Uncommon Food Brands Collaborations and Why They Work

Collaboration between food brands is not a new concept. From celebrity-endorsed Justin Beiber x Tim Horton’s “Timbiebs” limited edition donut holes to this winter’s Sunkist citrus x Whistle Pig bourbon collab on the perfect Old Fashioned, marketers are hip to the game known historically as cross-promotion. These pairings bring together two audiences allowing the brands to generate a curated experience unique to the consumer, strengthening the relationship with them and further developing brand loyalty.

Collaborations also generate a lot of buzz, boosting tired brands with the popularity of their partner brand and introducing traditional kitchen staples to a new generation of shoppers who may not be familiar with the brand. For example, the Yoplait x Kool-Aid limited edition yogurt in three kool flavors: Tropical Punch, Blue Raspberry, and Cherry.

Beyond the kitchen cupboard, brand collaborations have been quite popular to introduce a new product line, garner attention from customers of one brand for another, or leverage a luxury brand’s star power to boost another.

Most recently, Nike x Tiffany announced their partnership, dubbed “a match made in branding heaven” by FastCompany. The article continues, “The Nike partnership is notable given it’s Tiffany’s first collaboration with a mass market brand that will allow the company to engage with a broader swath of young consumers.”

In time we’ll learn the success of this collaboration, but if history is a tell, we will soon see tween-agers in Tiffany & Co. x Air Force 1 sneakers all over social media. The fashion industry has volumes of case studies of successful brand collaborations.

Related Article: The Affordable Luxury of Fresh Produce

Food brands are primed for the stage, and it’s time we see food marketers, most specifically produce marketers, step out of the comfort of their brand and into the uncharted collaborative territory.

The recipe for food brand collaboration success is a 1 + 1 = 3 quotient where the collab must generate attention from a broader audience than that of either brand on its own.

With produce, consumers are creating “collaborations” on their plates daily, whether in soups, sandwiches, smoothies, or salads; produce items come together, creating thousands of delicious flavor pairings. Recipes help encourage consumers to bring these food products together, but marketing might take it one exciting step further.

Go beyond in-store cross-promotion and elevate produce sales through collaboration. The marketing power of social media has proven beneficial for an infamous, savory block of cheese [feta] and a sheet pan of cherry tomatoes.

What if those two products were branded, and their marketing teams took full advantage of the trend? Well, they did, and what is being proposed here is more of the same. We’re not talking about licensing of brand assets, but rather true, mutually beneficial brand collaboration among produce products that will allow both brands to reach new audiences and grow awareness, loyalty, and ultimately sales of their food products.

When considering a collaboration, consider your objectives: what are you trying to achieve with this marketing tactic? As an industry, we preach the need to increase consumption, starting with growth in a specific social media channel, increasing an email subscriber list, driving more website traffic, or developing noteworthy, branded content.

Choose your tactic, then begin to explore partner brands already having success or are printed to be successful at achieving your same objective. This is where the magic will happen.

Complimentary audiences are key when it comes to choosing your brand partner for collaborative marketing. A brand collab will only be successful if it’s mutually beneficial. This can work in both B2C and B2B environments too. Maybe the produce department is too daunting of a stage for the collab, but a trade show floor at a key event could prove to be the perfect ground to test the partnership publicly.

The time is now to capitalize on the collab trend. Consumers are familiar with the story of their favorite brands getting together for limited edition offerings. Consider the reward of breaking the brand marketing mold with a fresh, friendly brand. The possibilities are endless.