It's All About That Base: Why You Should Never Lose Sight of Your Most Loyal Consumers

For Barber Foods®, success meant looking back to the base of loyal consumers that helped them win in the first place — even if that meant forgetting about millennials. 

When Gus Barber opened his meat shop in Portland, Maine, in 1955, he had little more than a sharp butcher knife and an old truck. But his passion for the brand and desire to serve the best helped him build one of the most loved frozen stuffed chicken breast brands. In 2011, Barber Foods was acquired by AdvancePierre™ Foods with a common goal: the never-ending pursuit to delight customers.


In honor of the brand’s 60th birthday, and with the goal of honoring and growing the consumer base, Barber Foods implemented fundamental changes to the brand, including a recipe reformulation and a packaging reinvention designed to pay homage to the brand’s heritage while also appealing to a new generation of consumers: millennials. Unfortunately, a product recall threw a wet blanket over the 60th anniversary brand celebration — and long-time customers didn’t like the new packaging, either. The result? A sharp decline in sales. Some of us called it Barbergeddon.


Working hand-in-glove with the Barber Foods brand team, we quickly developed a plan. First, we let the consumers weigh in, gathering insights through social listening and market research. What did they want? First, they wanted to enjoy the same Barber Foods in the same way they always had. That meant bringing the legacy packaging back.

Second, we used a highly targeted marketing campaign. “Make Tonight Barber Night” was designed to reintroduce Barber Foods’ original recipe and legacy packaging to loyal baby boomer consumers, while also playing to the consumer’s desire to enjoy real food and real dinnertime moments.

Plan specifics included:

  • High-value direct-mail gift packages — with a note signed by David Barber — created to mend relationships with disappointed consumers and reassure loyal ones of Barber’s commitment to them.
  • Social media content designed to drive engagement and conversation, and to educate around core brand benefits.
  • Broad-based yet targeted digital media advertisements to reach loyal and lapsed consumers, driving them back to the stuffed chicken breast section of the frozen case.
  • Targeted digital and traditional couponing combined with in-store advertising to incent trial and repurchase at a higher frequency.


The 18 months since Barbergeddon have marked a journey from recovery to stabilization to success, with Barber ultimately achieving double-digit growth across many retailers. Even with competitor Koch Foods back in the market after a recall of their own and a new market entry, Sandra’s, Barber has reclaimed and maintained dominance in the frozen stuffed chicken breast category.

The campaign achieved robust results across all channels — digital, social, search and web — routinely beating industry averages. And through a smart, control-exposed digital media test, the data showed a 30 percent lift in household spend in those exposed to the campaign. Household penetration and purchase occasion results went up, too, indicating the overwhelming success we had in helping bring lapsed Barber customers back to the brand — and setting the stage for continued growth.


Keep winning with your loyal consumers. Barber has always thrived on a base of baby-boomer consumers who love their products and keep coming back for more. 

Don’t get distracted by millennials. The siren song of millennial purchase power can be hard for brands to ignore. But for Barber, staying focused on the consumers who were already loyal to their products proved to be the path to success.

Harness the power of geotargeting. Using incredibly focused targeting, we were able to reach the consumers who were most likely to respond to our messaging. That meant no wasted budget.

A smart plan beats an expensive plan every time. A slim budget doesn’t necessarily mean slim results. Our creative use of marketing dollars allowed us to focus on the consumers who would help us rebuild the Barber Foods brand — and ultimately grow it into an even greater success story.