The program, called Avocado Nation, uses machine learning to track customer preferences within the platform and aims to eventually tap that data to serve up a personalized experience to each user. Consumers can enter into a contest to win the limited-edition clothing items through loyalty points that are garnered by either sharing on social media or submitting receipts from grocery store purchases.
The launch is part of the produce trade group’s ongoing mission to digitally transform its marketing efforts with the use of AI and other emerging tech. The brand previously tapped IBM Watson’s AI to match people with local adoptable dogs as part of its 2019 Super Bowl campaign and set up a rewards program via blockchain for its Big Game campaign last year.
“We have been working on this idea of becoming the most innovative produce company in the world for a while,” said Alvaro Luque, president and CEO of AFM. “These type of ideas—creating our own [customer data program] and developing artificial intelligence programs to keep them engaged—is something that definitely doesn’t exist in the produce category.”
AFM’s limited-run apparel line is geared toward women and designed to span the six top fitness activities for women in the U.S.: running, hiking, tennis, golf, cycling and general fitness, such as aerobics, yoga and Pilates. AFM head of marketing and ecommerce Ivonne Kinser said the rewards points system was devised in part because as a nonprofit entity, the trade group is not allowed to profit from the platform’s sales.
Netflix for avocados?
Another section of Avocado Nation features short-form video content that ranges from simple avocado-preparation tips and recipes to original mini-series with bite-sized episodes. There’s Avocadoland, a travel show that takes viewers on a tour of the avocado industry in Mexico. Then there’s The Food Reporter, in which food writer Talia Pollock extols the nutritional virtues of avocados, and even an odd Bachelor-like avocado-based dating series called Love at First Bite.
AFM has high hopes for expanding this portion of the website into something consumers might actually be interested in seeking out. Doing so will allow the brand to better gauge what type of content customers are interested in and personalize marketing accordingly, according to Kinser.
“The inspiration came from Netflix,” Kinser said. “What we want is to really learn how they prefer to consume content, whether it’s short videos, long videos or documentaries, et cetera.”
The data collection and personalization element is the one overarching thread that binds these otherwise disparate-seeming strains of avocado fanaticism, according to Kinser. “We created three different areas [apparel, video content and loyalty rewards] that are apparently disconnected from each other but are actually built that way on purpose so that we can capture data from consumers in different areas,” she said.
Boom times for avocados
AFM managed to break its yearly sales record last year with 2.1 billion pounds sold in the U.S., thanks in part to pandemic-oriented marketing measures, like upping the portion of avocados it sells in cleaner-to-handle bags and creating more coupons for consumers on a budget. The brand is aiming to break that record again in 2021 with 2.3 billion pounds of sales.
The launch of Avocado Nation also comes after the produce brand sat out this year’s Super Bowl after seven consecutive appearances, forgoing what has previously been the linchpin of its
annual marketing strategy.