FreshDirect has chosen Curiosity as its first creative agency of record following a three-month competitive review conducted by Mercer Island Group.
The online grocery delivery company, which has traditionally worked with agencies on a project basis, decided to seek out a long-term strategic partner to help navigate what has become a more competitive market since the pandemic. “We’re looking for that five-year story about who we are and how to portray that to our customers,” said John MacDonald, chief marketing officer of FreshDirect.
Originally the brand was looking for a local agency partner—the majority of its revenue comes from New York City—but MacDonald expanded its search and said the Cincinnati-based agency stood out because it “challenged” the brand creatively.
“We gave them all of our current brand assets and said, 'This is how we want to market' and mentioned our emotional necessity,” MacDonald said. “If you look at most of our marketing over the last couple of years it's all beautiful food. But they challenged us with, ‘Well who's eating that food and what are they doing over that food?’ Most supermarkets will talk about food as a connector, but they talked specifically about food as a connector in New York City. There are nuances to that. When you think about it, while you want to be a little bit broad, you [can] still narrow yourself in a very specific way that lifestyle comes into it. I love it when people make me think differently. It opens up the possibilities of conversation and it opens up questions to ask customers and ourselves about how we present the brand.”
MacDonald recognizes that the landscape has changed, especially in Manhattan, where the online grocery company was founded 20 years ago. Now there are dozens of competitors in the market, including companies like Byuk, Gorillas, Gopuff, JOKR, Fridge No More and Instacart, many of which champion their 15-minute delivery times. FreshDirect offers its own two-hour express delivery service.
While New York City will be the main focus of its advertising, FreshDirect also has a footprint in Philadelphia, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Washington D.C.
To differentiate itself, the brand will look to focus its advertising beyond the “functionality conversation," which can lead to more of an emphasis on performance marketing, MacDonald said.
“There's this functional war going on ‘15 minutes, 20 minutes, I can do this. I can do that,”’ MacDonald said. “I think our challenge as FreshDirect is we have to move [the consumer focus] away from this ‘It's nice to have my groceries delivered’ to ‘I've got to have an emotional necessity to shop FreshDirect every week.’ We have those reasons for people to believe. We just haven't talked about them for a long time. We're going to get back to some really good basics about the quality of the food. "
He added, "There's a whole funnel of ways to communicate. There's a whole method of awareness that we can get ourselves back into talking about what makes us great, not only in the food we keep, but how we take care of the food.”