Branded merchandise has been popular among old GICs for a couple of years. In 2020, Stouffer’s released a mac and cheese parlor set inspired by its frozen meal. Meanwhile, Nissin Foods, the parent company of Cup Noodles and Top Ramen, began a series of collaborations that included the release of its Cup Noodles x Hello Kitty line of products. A similar playbook is used by major fast food chain like Chipotle and McDonald’s. Now, Manischewitz joins the parade of beloved grocery brands looking to be worn and remembered by young customers.
The new merchandising campaign was spearheaded by New Jersey-based Joseph Jacobs Advertising, Manischewitz’s marketing agency that has worked with the company for decades. Joseph Jacobs CEO Elie Rosenfeld told Modern Retail that with the kosher brand being over 130 years old, “we want to keep our name top of mind,” he said of the new line of t-shirts. and sweatshirts.
“It’s a brand that’s relevant to a lot of consumers, to Jewish customers but also beyond,” Rosenfeld said. Over the past century in business, Manischewitz has become known for its kosher wine and other popular CPG products, such as matzo soups and gefilte fish.
“We want people to wear them [merchandise] have dinner and strike up a conversation around Manischewitz,” he said.
Over the decades, Manischewitz grew from a family business to a publicly traded company in the 1920s — and, at one point in the 1990s, it was a private food company. Eventually, in 2019, kosher food distributor and Sabra owner Kayco acquired The Manischewitz Company for an undisclosed amount. Manischewitz’s most recent annual earnings were not disclosed.
The branded merchandise is the latest foray into online marketing for Manischewitz.
Rosenfeld said the agency began cultivating Manischewitz’s voice online about a year ago, joining the slew of food brands posting on social media for relatability. The brand’s voice on social media focuses primarily on satirical humor and recipes. For example, last spring, the Twitter account claimed that a recipe for “Hash Brownie Macarons” would be the highlight of Passover dinner. The strategy has paid off over the past year, with Manischewitz’s gefilte dogs Twitter beef being covered by The Wall Street Journal and The Jerusalem Post last June.
This digital momentum gave way to the deployment of Manischewitz merchandising. The timing also coincides with Rosh Hashanah and other upcoming major holidays, where people will see their friends and family. “It’s the time of year when people think about us the most, especially as soup season approaches,” he said.
The brand consistently experiences spikes in traffic at the start of the Jewish fall holidays. According to Google Trends, searches for “Manischewitz soup” began to increase in mid-September. Similarly, the company’s official social media accounts have gained visibility; for example, the company went viral with its gefilte dog stunt earlier this year.
Rosenfeld said the merchandise drop also comes at a time when Manischewitz is gearing up to launch packaged products that speak to millennials and Gen Z shoppers. While he didn’t specify the new SKUs, he confirmed that they’ll hit shelves in early 2023. “We just launched a mac and cheese to meet the needs of the kosher space, and we have more on the way,” Rosenfeld said.
Marketing strategist and investor Nik Sharma says merchandise is one of the most accessible ways for brands to generate buzz and interest. “Legacy brands, especially those that this generation of consumers grew up with, will always have an emotional connection with consumers,” Sharma said. He cited recent examples of companies like UPS and Kirkland taking advantage of this trend. “It’s a two-way street – brands get a moving billboard, and consumers feel proud and excited to represent the brands they love.”
At the same time, Rosenfeld said Manischewitz needed to strike a balance between being a family-oriented name while appearing relevant to young people. “We’re not trying to make it a designer sweatshirt, but it’s a way to tap into our heritage and create a moment,” Rosenfeld said, referring to recent collaborations in the field of fashion. fashion and food, such as Kith’s Coca-Cola Collection Series.
Rosenfeld said sales of matzo ball shirts were already underway, driving higher-than-usual traffic to Manischewitz’s website. “It’s not a huge investment, but it’s a marketing ploy that acts as a conversation starter,” he said.
The Joseph Jacobs team hopes that over the next few months, customers will submit images and content showcasing their product, which will be used as part of Manischewitz’s user-generated content. “Over the next year, we will also expand the range of merchandise based on demand,” Rosenfeld confirmed.
“We were looking to create a voice that reflected our history and our cultural place,” Rosenfeld said. “The idea is to evolve beyond being your bubbles favorite brand.