Home Commerce Chips Ahoy! Takes A Bite Out Of TikTok

Chips Ahoy! Takes A Bite Out Of TikTok


Chips Ahoy! wants to be Gen Z’s cookie of choice, not a nostalgic snack pick.

But to achieve that objective, the Mondelēz-owned chocolate chip cookie brand is refining its targeting strategy to focus on behaviors, not demographics. Its key marketing goals are to build brand love and to make sure its product is differentiated in the market.

“If we’re not growing and seen as modern and relevant with Gen Z consumers, we’re not going to be able to evolve and expand as a brand,” said Senior Brand Manager Natalie Gadbois.

What Chips Ahoy! doesn’t want is to be seen “as the brand you loved when you were a kid and then fell out of your mental space,” she said.

Building brand affinity across a wide audience doesn’t necessarily require a strong data infrastructure, so a first-party data approach hasn’t been a priority so far – not that Chips Ahoy! isn’t considering building something.

“It’s a conversation we’ve been having across our media and ecommerce partners,” Gadbois said, “but we’re not there yet.”

Chips Ahoy! does use other forms of data, however. Gadbois and her team look at point-of-sale data and customer panel data to see how the business is doing with specific consumer groups. They also use social listening tools to see which of its content gets more impressions and generates greater engagement. They even analyze how content is being perceived by customers.

The brand also considers market data it gets from its agency partners and vendors concerning Chips Ahoy!’s promo strategies and share of voice, including brand awareness and popularity compared to competitors.

All of this data helps Chips Ahoy! create marketing programs that resonate with consumers, Gadbois said, “even if how we come to life may look a little different between a Walmart shelf set and a TikTok ad.” For instance, the brand recently partnered with Gen Z designer Vandy the Pink on a party kit for Chips Ahoy!’s 60th birthday celebration.

Gadbois spoke with AdExchanger.


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AdExchanger: Who is your target audience?

NATALIE GADBOIS: Multicultural Gen Z is our bull’s-eye. They are the growth consumers who we talk about when we’re building our strategies. We have a dotted line to their parents, who may be doing the grocery shopping, but [kids] influence the list.

Since Gen Z is so multicultural, do you do any demographic targeting?

We tend to target behavioral interests. In one ad, we have Chip, our mascot, playing soccer, and we have another that’s trap-music-based. We tend to focus on that rather than looking at demographics. 

What goes into your media decision-making?

From a media standpoint, we spend on TikTok. We focus a lot of our media on digital and social platforms. We look to work with partners we know are relevant to that consumer.

But at the same time, we’re conscious that we’re too big of a brand for it to just be Gen Z buying us. In store, for example, we make sure we’re not alienating other customers. When we redo our packaging or develop new innovations, we do a ton of customer validation, as all CPG organizations do, with a broader range of consumers.

What else are you doing on TikTok and other social media channels?

We’ve been very organic-first. When we get buzz behind organic content, we’ve recreated it and boosted with paid assets.

You won’t see a traditional ad in a TikTok feed because we know consumers aren’t necessarily responding to that type of content in the same way they’re more used to on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

On TikTok, ad-like content does not work. Consumers are looking for content that feels relevant to them, that feels bite-sized and that doesn’t feel polished and overly branded.

Any examples of times you applied a lesson or insight from one Mondelēz brand to others in the portfolio?

Before I was on the Chips Ahoy! desk, I worked on Trident gum, one of the first brands [at Mondelēz] to try putting paid media behind TikTok or getting social content on TikTok.

Some of the assets did not perform well. We boosted a trend that was a flash in the pan. Two months later, when we were still boosting it, it had become less relevant. We had a lot of learnings there that now I’m using at Chips Ahoy!

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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