How A 400-Year-Old French Mustard Brand Is Using Beacons To Spark Targeted U.S. Expansion

Unilever’s upscale mustard maker Maille tapped inMarket to appeal to ‘foodies’ in SoCal, and Chicago.

Although Maille’s mustard recipes haven’t changed much since its founding in Paris, France in 1747, the Unilever-owned brand is often interested in trying something new when it comes to marketing its products to upscale, mobile consumers.

For the past month, the company has been working with proximity marketing platform inMarket and its trade marketing agency Sopexa on a beacon-based promotion aimed at “foodies” and influencers at selected shops in Southern California and Chicago.

By working with inMarket, which boasts of a total reach of 46.2 million monthly app across thousands of U.S. stores and locations, Maille is looking to connect specific push notifications to its consumers at precise moments.

“Through this program, we are accomplishing so much,” Elisa Galassi, Maille’s brand manager tells GeoMarketing. “We are engaging with foodies at a critical time and influencing their ultimate purchase decision. Maille becomes top of mind, and shines on the shelf. It also allows us to show our commitment to retailers by supporting their business and driving their sales. Also, from an internal perspective, it is very encouraging for our sales force to see the engagement and sales lift, beyond the classic discount way of promoting a product. It is also such an efficient way to very precisely target the markets we want to focus on to increase our brand awareness and ultimately our sales.”

Maille’s interest in a more narrowly-focused market interested in fine foods, as opposed to trying to capture the broadest possible mass audience makes its goals a natural fit for a one-to-one beacon effort, says Kevin Hunter, inMarket’s president.

“Maille appreciates our audience reach and the ability to get its message out at that right moment, either in store or in the aisle, to be able to really make sure they can get that moment to influence that shopper’s behavior,” Hunter said. “They wanted to do something more innovative in the space. And they know that we’re pushing the envelope and driving that value proposition.”

Maille on the shelf.
Maille on the shelf.

The decision to seek out beacons for the 400-year-old mustard brand also reflected the digital impulse of Maille’s parent, Unilever, which has prided itself for the past two decades for exploring digital marketing across all its properties.

“Unilever has done a wonderful job celebrating the rich brand heritage of Maille through creative uses of technology,” notes Benjamin Bourinat, US brand director of Sopexa, which specializes in food and beverage marketing. “Beacons engage with consumers at critical touch points in store. What’s truly remarkable is how such a long standing brand as Maille has been able to combine legacy and user-centricity to create real resonance and relevance through ages and markets. In the U.S., Maille is providing more integrated experiences for consumers, blurring digital and physical to connect with people in more meaningful ways. Agility means authenticity, and that’s exactly how a luxury brand stands out.”

To ensure that the level of authenticity remains high, the messages that consumers will get from Maille also reflects the context of the particular app publisher consumers are looking at when the notification appears, Hunter says.

“We make sure that all the engagements for the push side of that always are really native to the application,” Hunter says. “So each notification could differ a little different according to the different publishers in order to make sure the engagement makes sense for that application and the mindset the consumer is in at that moment the message arrives. The creative component is so important. Each time someone receives a push from Maille, the reaction from the consumer should always be, ‘This seems like a natural, serendipitous message. It just makes sense that I should get this now.’”

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David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.