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Connecting with New and Changing Customers: Lessons from the Del Monte Foods CMO

How do you reinvigorate a 135-year-old brand to connect with new and changing customers?

That’s the question faced by Bibie Wu, CMO of Del Monte Foods.

Customers have changed drastically in the last few years, especially in the food industry. Even with changing trends, Del Monte stays grounded in the goodness of fruits and vegetables. In fact, with more people eating at home, managing their household budgets, and trying to put great food on the table, Del Monte has never been more relevant. Wu jokes that Del Monte is the first plant-based food company and was thinking about plant-based options before it became a trend.

The challenge is updating that focus on fruits and vegetables and bringing out innovative packaging and products that will delight consumers. Over the last few years, Del Monte has focused on inspiring people with at-home meal ideas and hacks, including their new lines of flavor and meal enhancers.

Del Monte is leaning into data and new ways to connect with customers. On a macro level, the company partners with retailers to highlight its products and get them right in front of customers when they need them most. But on the micro level, Del Monte uses influencers to share meal ideas and inspiration. Some products and ideas go viral on their own, while others require a partnership and sales pitch with Del Monte to get in front of potential customers. Today’s customers, especially younger generations, trust information and ideas they see from their peers online, so Del Monte uses channels like TikTok to share meal ideas and showcase new products. 


But even as Del Monte expands into new channels, it also holds firm to its founding values. Wu says the company has noticed that in times of uncertainty, consumers get a lot of comfort from staying with tried and true, trusted companies. Del Monte has always had a strong core mission about leveraging the inherent goodness of fruits and vegetables to improve and nourish people’s lives.

Strong values resonate with older customers who have been loyal to the brand for years and younger customers who want to connect with purpose-driven brands. Wu says Del Monte has bumped up its efforts to ensure its core purpose is visible. That includes not only purpose-driven marketing campaigns but increased corporate social responsibility and commitments to the community.

Fruits and vegetables will never go out of style, but customer needs and preferences change. Del Monte stays connected with old customers and finds new customers by paying attention to trends and data and showcasing its long-standing values.


Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist and the author of The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her weekly email here.

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