To say that we’ve seen massive transformation in the past couple of years as a society may be the understatement of the century. However, adaptability is the name of the game for an innovative company in the digital era. As Texas’ #1 grocery store, H-E-B saw early on that when people stayed home, they headed to the kitchen and they didn’t ONLY want to bake bread.
By monitoring Google search trends, Pinterest searches and listening to our customers, H-E-B saw the opportunity to provide a service to Texans and created a brand new program of Virtual Cooking Classes. What started on zoom and as an effort to empower and educate customers new to at-home cooking (or just bored of the same 5 recipes they know) evolved into something much more. The intention to serve and provide help hasn’t changed, however the success of the program led the team to evolve and expand beyond a zoom screen, and onto both Facebook and YouTube as weekly livestreamed cooking shows - completely shoppable with the click of a button.
Essentially, we created a TV show for the palm of your hand.. A totally shoppable weekly TV show streamed live with real-time access to H-E-B and celebrity chefs for any of your questions in real-time. We sought out to answer your questions, provide help and inspire the answer to “what’s for dinner” with H-E-B products.
In a virtual world, customers are looking for the path of least resistance when it comes to online shopping and one of H-E-B’s digital team’s big bets for the year was to lean into ease of online shoppability. How can we reduce the clicks on the path to purchase, so you go straight from inspiration to purchase as well as providing help and answering the questions customers have? Thus, we created the H-E-B Virtual Cooking Classes streamed live on Facebook and YouTube each week leveraging Facebook’s new shopping feature.
One way our strategy is unique is that we start by listening. We look at trend-data to see what does the customer actually want to learn about. Working closely with Google and Pinterest, we identify key recipes/trends from customers, blend that with what’s happening in the world culture calendar (ex. Football season translating into a Fun Bites for the Big Game class etc.), and then pair it with key products we want to sell. Then working closely with the H-E-B culinary team or guest celebrity chefs like Johnny Hernandez and Tiffany Derry, a menu is designed.
Another part of what makes our strategy different is continuing to lean into our digital strategy of - inspire, empower, educate. Content should be fun and also attainable, keeping overall skill level and ingredient costs at a reasonable place. Additionally, as a regional grocer all about Texas, we keep the customer at the top of mind and utilize the classes to showcase distinctive new ingredients like Honey Sopapilla Chips, local Texas wines, or even Hatch Chili Salsa. We want and see our viewers leave their experience knowing how to do something new, learning about something new, and utilizing the shoppable functionality, purchase everything they need in a click of a button right there from their feed.
H-E-B remains the first and only grocer to embrace this digital pivot of online shoppable functionality on Facebook - not to mention stand up and sustain on a weekly cadence that keeps Texans coming back for more. In Texas, it’s go big or go home, but if you’re at home, tune in to your friendly neighborhood H-E-B cooking show on Facebook.
The H-E-B Virtual Cooking Classes started on zoom, and evolved into a major program with weekly long-form engagement with our customers with over 6M views to date and more than 700 H-E-B products featured. We aren’t just going in your feed, we’re entertaining, inspiring and empowering Texans for an hour each week. Upon surveying customers who viewed the class, 93% responded “very likely” or “likely” to purchase H-E-B branded products and 97% responded planning to use the recipes/techniques shared in the class.
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