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Turning Ugly to Beauty. A clever marketing idea using a social cause. Smart insights on how to add

Intermarché, a French supermarket chain, launched a campaign of “Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables”. The campaign generated 24% more traffic and sold 1.2 tons per store during the first two days alone. All while garnering significant free media coverage and publicity.

The idea came from the concern about food wastage. While many tonnes of “not good looking” but consumable fruits and vegetables were being thrown away, the supermarket decided to collect them and sell at lower prices to consumers. But why would consumers want strange-looking carrots or hideous oranges?

The supermarket built a sort of in-store brand around “Inglorious Fruits & Vegetables”. This product line even had a dedicated sales corner, aisle racks and price promotions. Most importantly, it let people try free soup and juices made from it.

It instantly generated curiosity and noise amongst consumers and the media. As more people tried the line, more people appreciated the value of the new line of products. Word of mouth started to spread.

So how can local retail brands in Hong Kong do something similar?

1. Explore opportunities. When we think bigger and higher, out of our own “boxes” of products and services, we can see more opportunities. Thinking from the customer’s point of view and needs will give us insights into customer concerns, opportunity gaps, better options, or even new solutions.

2. A novel way to explore social causes. Some call it Corporate Social Responsibility or charity ideas. It is always good to create a positive and healthy image for a brand. Relevancy with the “cause” brings value to enhance the brand proposition. Intermarché is a good example; it chose to reduce food wastage, which fits with the supermarket industry.

3. Seeing is believing. Sometimes, a new idea or concept includes a bit of risk. It can be tricky to get people to understand or relate the idea to your brand in a relevant way. It is always important to be creative to get the ball rolling. Intermarché’s campaign overcame this hurdle by offering free samples of soup and juices. When people realised that ugly produce tastes as good as “normal” fruits and vegetables (and it is cheaper!) then they were more willing to participate in the cause. The “mind changer” needs to be amplified.

Contact us at if you want to discuss further how to create buzz for your brand.

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