PLUM ORGANICS AND HAPPY BABY CHALLENGE GERBER FOR THE HIGH GROUND… I used to believe that there was nothing healthier than Gerber Baby Food. When I was designing packaging and promotions for the brand, I remember learning that they owned 70% of the market share. That’s because Gerber was made of all-natural ingredients. Peas were 100% peas. Carrots were 100% carrots. What can top that?
Then baby food startup brands changed the market with one disruptive promise… “ORGANIC.” Plum Organics and Happy Baby capitalized on the sustainable food movement as a cause and raised the bar by responding to consumer buzz in the market. They promised parents that they’ll stand up for nutritional integrity and that they’ll never violate that standard. Parents have returned the favor by becoming loyal fans of Happy Baby and Plum Organics, making them big winners in the marketplace.
Now, the values the two startups were founded upon are facing tests of endurance. That’s because two mega-players in consumer packaged goods, Groupe Danone and Campbell Soup, have respectively acquired Happy Family and Plum Organics.
Danone, the Paris-based parent of Dannon USA, and Campbell have allowed the co-founders of their new acquisitions to continue to run their companies and brands the same way they did before. In doing so, the giant companies would pretty much follow the playbook written by Dutch CPG titan Unilever when it bought Ben & Jerry’s, the very progressive and expressive ice-cream brand, several years ago.
“Plum remains focused on adhering to our core values and beliefs,” co-founder Neil Grimmer told us in the wake of the Campbell announcement. “Plum is backing up this statement with a program to develop a nutritionally power-packed Super Smoothie with a prominent pediatrician, Dr. Alan Greene, which Plum has begun providing to at least half a million ‘food-insecure’ youngsters.” Grimmer expressed that the program has become the strongest manifestation of his conviction embracing brand values. Plum had 500 million online impressions within the first few weeks of the of the Super Smoothie announcement.
“If ever there was a doubt that doing good in the world isn’t good for business, this would dispel that notion,” Grimmer said.
Happy Family co-founder Shazi Visram told us she’s confident that Danone shares the higher values of the company she has built. And that’s saying something, given that Visram’s very personal odyssey as a mother over the last few years and her social media posting have been big parts of sharing the brand with parents.
These two case studies affirm our belief that participating in market change associated with the values that people care about will not only bring about a better human condition, but also increase your bottom-line.