Puff pastry, that boxed stuff many people walk past in the grocery freezer aisle, is staging a comeback thanks to social sharing.
Pepperidge Farm has been quietly producing and posting its own easy-to-follow recipe videos and posting them on its Puffpastry.com site and elsewhere.
"It was a business that was basically flat for about three years and what we've seen now is a 20% increase," said Chris Foley, senior VP-Chief Marketing Officer, Pepperidge Farm. "It hasn't seen this type of growth in decades."
With a commanding market share of about 80% of the frozen puff pastry business, Pepperidge Farm does not need to push its brand too heavily in the videos. Just getting people to think about using puff pastry more often, or for the first time, seems to help drive sales.
Pepperidge Farm puff pastry sales jumped 19.5% in the first three quarters of the fiscal year, lapping a minimal increase a year earlier, Mr. Foley said. The brand, which is part of Campbell Soup Co., is seeing new consumers coming into the category including younger millennials, he added.
The video idea was cooked up as Pepperidge Farm noticed the rising popularity of recipe videos from outlets such as BuzzFeed's Tasty and the food ideas people search for on Pinterest. Tasty has a massive following of millions on Facebook -- where its videos often pop up and play automatically -- and on Pinterest.
Pepperidge Farm said its most popular recipes are often tied to holiday occasions, such as Easter egg cream puffs or Christmas trees. It has more than 400 recipes online, from Baked Brie Cups to S'mores Sandwich Swirls. Now it is rolling out three new videos it thinks will be a good fit for Mother's Day celebrations, as it works on pushing the right "creative entertaining" content at the right time.
The first part of the Mother's Day trio, a Pull-Apart Loaf With Maple Bacon (above), was a new recipe posted in April. Then Pepperidge Farm added new videos for existing recipes in its lineup. A Tomato Jewel Tartlets video posted in late April and will be followed by a Puffs Primavera video in early May (below).
The work has been done largely over the past six months by everyone from in-house chefs to the social team. An integrated services team provides the cameras for the shoots.
The product's marketing spend is all dedicated to digital, including paid Facebook and Pinterest posts. Facebook and Pinterest are probably the two lead places where people first find the content, Mr. Foley said. Then the brand has a chance to bring viewers into its owned assets, including having them sign up for the Puff Pastry email newsletter, which has more than 400,000 subscribers.
Now, Mr. Foley would like to see the puff pastry way of thinking about digital and social applied to bigger Pepperidge Farm businesses, such as Goldfish crackers or Milano cookies. After all, while puff pastry is growing, it only represents about 2% of total Pepperidge Farm sales. The puff pastry business is about 1/20th the size of the Goldfish business, he said.
"It's very small, but its model is impacting the way we think about how we should be marketing on many of our other big brands," Mr. Foley said.