Leading from the heart led Plum Organics to the top

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Leading from the heart led Plum Organics to the top

Related tags Food Nutrition

The secret to Plum Organics’ rapid ascent to the top of the organic baby, toddler and children’s food industry is its deeply engrained philosophy to “lead with the heart,” the firm’s CEO Neil Grimmer says. 

“There is a saying that you have all heard in your careers, I am sure, which is: Hey, it is nothing personal – it is business. But I think that single-handedly is one of the most damning statements in business,” ​Grimmer told attendees at a webinar May 6 hosted by NEXT Accelerator.

“We believe you actually need to flip that saying on its head and actually make [business] personal”​ to succeed in today’s world, he added.

By “wearing our heart on our sleeve,”​ Plum Organics quickly gained young parents’ trust, loyalty and business, he said, noting that “consumers today actually want more from their brands” ​ than just a great product – they want to support companies that “do good in the world.”

Making it personal

Plum Organics makes business personal by creating and selling products that the founders – a group of young parents – wanted: organic, healthy food that parents could confidently and conveniently feed their children.

“Ultimately, we are the ones that we are trying to serve. As such, we have unique sets of insights and ways to connect with other young parents that transcend classic notions of focus group testing and one way marketing,”​ Grimmer said.

He explained that when Plum Organics launched in 2007, one in three children in the U.S. was overweight or obese, and that the founders wanted to address this problem by creating food that inspired children to eat the right food, right from the start.

As the company grew, it realized that its employees also were eating their baby food products, and decided once again to meet their personal needs by launching Plum Vida – a line of fruit and vegetable purees with a “culinary flair”​ designed for adults’ palates, Grimmer said. The line launched a year ago and already has found success as a healthy, on-the-go food, he added.

Relate to consumers

Another key component to “leading with the heart”​ is being empathetic to consumers’ needs, Grimmer said.

“Many consumers don’t feel recognized by companies and don’t feel like companies understand what they are about,”​ Grimmer said, citing as an example Pinterist campaigns that show only the picture-perfect moments of parenthood and not the messy reality that makes up 99% of parents’ lives.

Plum Organics responded with a campaign that launched two weeks ago that focuses on “the mess that is the magic of parenting,”​ by showing the moments when life isn’t perfect – such as a wailing, inconsolable child. The commercials already have more than 2.8 million views online and have reassured parents that they aren’t parenting incorrectly if their lives are imperfect, Grimmer said.

Have compassion

Plum Organics’ compassion helped it gain prime placement in retailers and garner earned media that raised the brand’s visibility by launching its “full effect” ​campaign to nourish underfed children in America, Grimmer said.

To help feed the one in five children in the U.S. who are chronically hungry, Plum Organics created a product specifically designed to meet the nutritional needs of these children and donated 500,000 units to the food security system.

It also worked with Target to create a program in which for each four pack of Plum Organics sold at the retailer’s stores, another one would be donated to feed hungry children in the U.S., Grimmer said.

Be devoted

Finally, leading with the heart means being devoted to all consumers – on a large and small scale, Grimmer said.

Plum Organics demonstrated its devotion to its consumers recently when it went out of its way to collect and give to a dying child his favorite Plum Organics blend, which was being discontinued. Not only did the company re-route the remaining packs of the oatmeal and fruit blend to the child’s mother, it also created a custom run of the product in packages featuring the child’s name and image, Grimmer said.

The donation may not have created a “tangible return on investment,”​ but it reconfirmed for consumers and employee’s the firm’s dedication to “bringing humanity back to business,” ​Grimmer said. Plus, he added, Plum Organics is now a No. 1 brand, and there isn’t a much better measure for success than that.  

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