Digital Marketing Redux   //   July 10, 2024

Primal Kitchen partners with Pinterest on multi-city pop-up

Condiments brand Primal Kitchen is hitting the road this month for a cooking pop-up in partnership with Pinterest. 

Called the Colorful Kitchen pop-up, Primal Kitchen and Pinterest will be hosting events in three cities where influencers will serve custom bites and snacks made with Primal Kitchen condiments while also sharing cooking tips. The first event will feature an appearance by cooking influencer Carolina Gelen, who has 1 million followers on Instagram. Pinterest previously tested the pop-up concept with Anthropologie but this marks the first time the platform has done an in-person collaboration with a food brand.

For Pinterest, the pop-up is just one way that the platform is trying to show up more in person this year. Pinterest also hosted its first in-person activation at Coachella this year. For Primal Kitchen, the partnership is its latest physical activation to drive brand awareness for its better-for-you products as it expands into big-box retail.

The “kitschy kitchen” aesthetic is currently trending on Pinterest, which inspired the concept’s design. The pop-up will offer dips on tap to go with the recipes, which are based on Pinterest trends and feature some of Primal Kitchen’s popular products, like ranch dressing, original mayo and buffalo sauce. According to Pinterest, searches for terms like “clean food” spiked over last year while searches for dips and snack hacks increased 100% year-over-year. Attendees will also receive Primal Kitchen products and swag.

The Colorful Kitchen pop-up will kick off with a two-day event in the Flatiron Plaza on July 17. It will then move to Chicago’s Pioneer Court on July 23 and The Original Farmers Market in Los Angeles on July 28.

Founded in 2015, Primal Kitchen sells a line of dressing and marinades made with avocado oil. Ana Goettsch, Primal Kitchen’s head of marketing, told Modern Retail that Pinterest has been a big part of the brand’s channel mix since launching.

“Pinterest drives a ton of traffic for us, so they make up a chunk of our social ad spend,” she said. The brand declined to share specific figures spent on Pinterest ads, but Goettsch said, “We buy media directly from Pinterest, and we have some of the lowest CPMs in all of food and bev.” Primal Kitchen has nearly 40,000 Pinterest followers and receives about 4.6 million monthly views on the platform.

To promote the Colorful Kitchen digitally, the pop-up will feature QR codes of trending topics for visitors to explore on Pinterest. The pop-up will have pins of these trending topics with QR codes that direct visitors to either content or retailers to buy the items in the recipes. “We want to own trends like clean eating, high protein, things like that,” Goettsch said. “This partnership also has a unique tie-in with retail.”

As the brand grows its presence in conventional retail chains, Goettsch said driving awareness of retail availability is becoming a priority. Primal Kitchen’s products can be found at retailers like Target, Whole Foods and Wegmans. “Last year we grew 30% in Walmart alone through points of distribution,” Goettsch said. 

The activation also comes on the heels of Primal Kitchen’s increased push for in-person brand-building to reach mainstream audiences. Goettsch said doing these types of events and talking to people “made us realize that we still have a white space within our target consumer.” 

Sara Pollack, global head of consumer marketing at Pinterest, said the Colorful Kitchen pop-up brings to life a number of food trends currently popular on the platform. This year, Pinterest has seen searches for “clean food” spike by 9,794%, she said, as well as “clean snacks” and “high protein dips” rising 187% and 97% respectively. Pollack noted this data specifically reflects a surging interest in clean food among Gen Z.

“The Colorful Kitchen pop-up with Primal Kitchen is our first partnership in the food space, one of Pinterest’s most popular verticals,” Pollack said. The idea is to show visitors how to use Pinterest as a place to find recipe inspiration. “This partnership helps us meet our Gen Z users where they are as they enter young adulthood and experiment more with food.”

Outside of inspiring the Primal Kitchen recipes, the pop-up also incorporates trending kitchen designs, per the Pinterest Predicts report released last December. “One of our biggest 2024 trend predictions was ‘Kitschy Kitchens,’ which identified an increase in quirky, bright, vintage kitchen decor,” Pollack said. 

John Clear, senior director in the consumer and retail group at Alvarez & Marsal, said social platforms like Pinterest and TikTok are highly visual and focused and move quickly to catapult certain health and wellness trends.

“Algorithms are quick to pick up on trends and push new recipes or hacks to gain popularity quickly,” Clear said. Past examples include recipes like whipped coffee and cauliflower rice, which have since gained mainstream popularity. “What has been less clear is the stickiness of these trends, since the priority of the platforms is ‘new’ content rather than simply reinforcing what has come before,” Clear added.

As such, Clear said brands like Primal Kitchen can leverage content creation, recipe sharing and user-generated content to promote their products to this highly engaged audience. “Cooking pop-ups can serve as educational hubs where consumers learn about ingredients, cooking techniques, and the nutritional benefits of products,” he said, as well as community building and generating social media buzz.

For Pinterest, the goal is to continue testing physical marketing to generate awareness for the platform’s discovery tools. “This year, our consumer marketing strategy involves showing up IRL in ways that surprise and delight our consumers at Pinterest-branded moments,” Pollack said.

Goettsch said the pop-up is an extension of Primal Kitchen’s out-of-home and in-person campaigns it has been rolling out over the past year. Earlier this year, Primal Kitchen also launched a Super Bowl-themed billboard promo in Las Vegas, along with giving out wings made with Primal Kitchen products at a tailgate party. 

“We saw success just from a general awareness perspective and also in those specific markets,” Goettsch said. “We wanted to take our learnings from 2023 and do it in a bigger way this year,” she added.

“Our metrics for the event is measuring how much buzz we’re building in earned media,” said Goettsch.