Here is content marketing done right.
Whole Foods Market recently announced they’re partnering with Pivot Media to transform their online magazine “Dark Rye” into a 20-episode TV series. The show, according to a press release, is intended to target Millennials. "Aligning with [WFM’s] brand addresses our desire to create customized content that truly speaks to the spirit and attitude of the next generation," said Kent Rees, EVP, Marketing, Scheduling and Operations at Pivot. “The first season of ‘Dark Rye’ will highlight topics ranging from artists seeking social justice to entrepreneurs rebuilding Detroit to culinary masters maintaining sustainable food traditions.”
Whereas many brands attempt to appeal to the Millennial demographic (roughly ages 18-30) via overt pandering and caricatured portrayals, Whole Foods’ “Dark Rye” does so by engaging, informing and inspiring.
I've been a fan of Dark Rye's online edition since it's 2012 launch. Not only do the issues investigate deeper implications of food eating, preparing, and buying, but they also outline DIY-isms: Readers can make their own pancetta, learn where to source reclaimed wood materials, and like any respectable food magazine, find recipes to bake holiday cookies. These stories are encased in broader themes ranging from "body" to "ritual" to “gather.”
While the content is top-notch, the magazine’s innovative presentation is what makes “Dark Rye” truly stand out. Rather than viewing it as a print publication that happens to be online, “Dark Rye” functions more as a website that’s updated on a monthly basis. You can bookmark the horizontally integrated pages (catered for a computer screen) and view beautiful videos fit for, well, a television show.
View the “Dark Rye” trailer below.
Educate and engage
I’m certainly not qualified to comment for the entirety of the demographic, but as a Millennial, I appreciate Whole Foods’ creativity and exploration of foodie themes beyond home-brewing and hipster cupcakes. James Beard Award apparently appreciates “Dark Rye” as well—in May the magazine won best “Group Food Blog.”
Above all, this is a successful retail content marketing campaign because Whole Foods Market invests in the intelligence of its customers. In turn, these educated, enthused Millennials will likely be more inclined to put their dollars and their trust into the natural retailer.
Of course, smaller natural products retailers probably cannot financially support a content marketing program as robust as "Dark Rye"—it's obvious that Whole Foods pumps a good deal of resources into this intitiative. But I urge independents to adopt the same strategies as Whole Foods on a community level.
Want to get young people into your store? Offer free classes on how to make yogurt, how to cure meats, or how to roll sushi. Host monthly showings of foodie-films such as Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Eat Drink Man Woman, or Food Inc. Why not organize a book talk with local authors that write about food? (Hint: Sell $5 glasses of organic wine, beer, or kombucha for added Millennial appeal.)
Education doesn't have to be expensive. It just has to inspire.