Reinvigorating A 110-Year-Old Brand Through Customer Feedback


How do you move an iconic brand towards the future?

That was the question Harry Overly, President and CEO of Sun-Maid, faced when he took over the company in 2017. The brand had vast stores of emotional equity, not to mention the familiarity and fondness for its iconic red raisin boxes. But it didn’t have a coordinated consumer marketing strategy and had missed an entire generation of consumers.

Overly relied on data and customer feedback to bring the brand to the present. That required listening to customers and being open to their input and ideas.

Overly represents a new type of CEO who sees his role as a marketer and customer supporter along with being an executive. His example and vision led the team to embrace data and innovation. Taking a deep look at data showed the Sun-Maid team everything from the efficiency of the manufacturing process to the demographics of current customers and began to unveil the customer story.

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Because the brand hadn’t been nurtured in 15 years, a major step was understanding and connecting with a new type of customer to reflect the modern snacking landscape. Overly calls this group “Balancer Moms” who are looking for healthy snacking alternatives that are still fun and delicious.

According to Overly, the key to reinvigorating an existing brand or starting a new brand is to spend time with customers to learn what they appreciate about the business. Their view of the brand can help define the competitive landscape and weaknesses that may not be apparent to people within the company. Listening to customers and the data gives brands a short- and long-term game plan. In the case of Sun-Maid, that meant focusing on high-demand times of the year like back-to-school and holiday baking and creating a solid omnichannel strategy to share insights with retailers to improve all areas of the experience. 

No matter if a brand is 110 years old or one year old, customers should always be central. Listening to customers and implementing their feedback and ideas creates a customer-centric brand that can stand the test of time.


Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist and the bestselling author of The Customer of the FutureFor regular updates on customer experience, sign up for her weekly newsletter here

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