High Flavor, Organic, and Conventional

Branding A New Era: A Q&A with Scott Mabs, Chief Executive Officer, Homegrown Organic Farms

Branding A New Era: A Q&A with Scott Mabs, Chief Executive Officer, Homegrown Organic Farms

Isn’t it fascinating to see trends evolve from generation to generation? Everything from fashion fads to eating experiences are touched by the hands of time, with high-end brands and health-forward, ethical grocery offerings taking precedent amongst the Millennial generation.

Not only do these consumers want to freshen up their looks, but they expect the imagery around them to be aesthetically equivalent. Enter the age of minimalist modernization. As Gens Y and Z garner more buying power and seek out those uniquely simplistic experiences, it is essential that fresh produce suppliers pivot their branding strategies. Homegrown Organic Farms, for example, has turned its attention to a new visual appeal in 2020, introducing a landmark rebrand that reinforces its presence as a leader in the organic sector.

Who better to delve into this strategic rebrand than Homegrown’s Chief Executive Officer Scott Mabs? Self-proclaimed organic champions and fierce, fresh produce advocates, Scott and his team have set the pace for organic operators, and this monumental rebrand is only part of the equation.

Chandler James: Scott, Homegrown Organic has always carried a trusted brand presence in the eyes of the consumer. What inspired you to rebrand at this time?

Scott Mabs: Our brand has remained the same since we originally created the Homegrown Organic Farms label, which was about ten years ago. Since then, there’s been a lot of growth for Homegrown and the organic industry as a whole. We’ve taken our expansion in stride, bringing in new items and launching new marketing tactics in tandem. After ten years of this, we needed to step back, reassess, and get everything in order to make sure we were communicating strategically to consumers through our packaging and our brand.

We’re staying on top of visual trends that drive demand by creating more of a simplistic aesthetic that appeals to today’s consumers. Our top priority was maintaining the hominess that we have long been known for, and I think our new branding accomplishes that. In doing so, we are moving forward with our key value propositions: keeping a 100 percent organic, fresh-fruit focus, and leading with our expertise as a family- and farmer-owned company with a combined 300 years of organic experience.

CJ: When I look at your original and rebranded labels side by side, the differences I notice are extremely intriguing. How do these changes communicate the message you want to convey?

SM: Our logo’s design is still very similar, with a cleaner and more modern-looking image and text. That, in addition to a minimalist theme incorporated in our brand image, will generate and accelerate sales at retail. This new look will trickle down to anything representative of our brand—such as marketing materials, packaging, and so forth. The essence of who we are and what the company stands for remains the same. Our tagline, “Always organic, always homegrown” is still oh-so clear and evident in what we do.

Our wholesale and retail partners have commented on how much they love our new look and how it truly speaks to the aesthetic we are aiming for, which is very on-point and on-trend right now.

CJ: Homegrown has invested heavily in this new era of consumers. In what ways have you maintained this critical self-awareness surrounding their shopping habits?

SM: There’s always a new generation of consumers coming into the market. If you don’t stay relevant to shoppers, you’re missing out on an opportunity to show them who you are and engage with them in a real way. I think we have a very strong message because we are experts in organic exclusively, and we want consumers to recognize that this is our primary focus. The consumer in all of us makes purchasing decisions using our eyes, so we’re bringing that visual element to the forefront of our strategy.

CJ: Organics have become a centerpiece in produce aisles everywhere. How has the brand been able to bob and weave in order to remain an industry leader in this space?

SM: Pretty much every major retailer is now working with organic products and has made them a key part of their produce department. We’re seeing the availability and consumption of organics rise, and I think that will continue to look different as we walk into the future.

Organics experienced an incredibly high growth rate when they initially became mainstream—that trajectory is beginning to level off some. With that comes changes in the market and a look back at the reality of our grower returns. So, in a way, not only are we reevaluating Homegrown’s image in the eyes of the consumer, but we are taking a closer look at how we can stay ahead of the rapid movement throughout the organics sector.

CJ: In addition to this revamp of your logo, Homegrown has recently rolled out multiple initiatives to support the company’s expansion. Can you speak to how this supports the new brand image you are pursuing?

SM: In May, we announced that we completed the Equitable Food Initiative (EFI) certification process for our California-grown organic stonefruit. We are proud to be the first in offering an EFI certified organic stonefruit program to the consumer. EFI facilitates cross-department collaboration and personal development: We are now at the forefront of systems improvement for the farm supply chain.

We launched three additional growth initiatives in June and July: We announced that our Oregon blueberry production has been officially Bee Better Certified™, and we rolled out a partnership with Valles del Sur to introduce a new organic Chilean blueberry import program. Lastly, we revealed an incredibly exciting addition to our portfolio, introducing a new jumbo kiwi variety. Adding this product to our organic lineup was a natural next step as we continue fulfilling our buyers’ organic fruit needs. We have remained on the cutting-edge of variety development, even in unique products such as kiwis.

“If you don’t stay relevant to shoppers, you’re missing out on an opportunity to show them who you are and engage with them in a real way.”

Scott Mabs, Chief Executive Officer, Homegrown Organic Farms

All of this further exemplifies our commitment to bettering the brand. We are confident that these new additions to our label will bolster Homegrown’s presence on the shelf, both from a retailer and shopper perspective. We want to appeal to shoppers from a visual standpoint, but it’s also important that they have an extremely positive eating experience. In turn, we want our products to become a staple in more households as these shoppers continue to make repeat purchases.

CJ: Rebrands such as this can’t happen overnight. When can we expect to see the new look across Homegrown’s entire portfolio?

SM: This transformation will take place over the next couple of months as our different commodities come in and we roll out our new packaging for each. We are a year-round program of organic, fresh fruit, so we’re taking it on a rolling basis from that standpoint.

Organics aren’t going anywhere, and Homegrown continues to ensure its place at the category’s helm. From this strategic rebrand to methodical moves across its fresh produce portfolio, the company’s growth continues to trend upward. And I, for one, believe that this is a trajectory worth keeping our eyes on.

As for the next generation’s brand preferences? We can’t say for sure, but I’m betting Homegrown Organic Farms’ fresh fruit will be in their kitchens.