Tariq the “Corn Kid” got a deal with Green Giant, and I’m not surprised.
This summer, the first thing I thought when “It’s Corn” started trending on TikTok was “everyone involved with sweet corn needs to be riding this wave.”
I even reached out to IRI to see if they’d seen any measurable bumps in corn sales. Alas, it was too nebulous for them to track, unlike the bump cherry tomatoes received with the “TikTok Pasta” went viral in early 2021. If you don’t recall, cherry tomatoes and feta were selling like the proverbial hot cakes, with cherry tomatoes up 36% the week after everyone was talking about it.
Instead, we all had the catchy tune, produced from a Recess Therapy interview with Tariq, where he colorfully described the sweet corn he was eating. The Gregory Brothers turned it into an incredibly viral song.
My 8-year-old has been listening to it on his regular rotation. Thank goodness the “What Does the Fox Day” and “Baby Shark” are no longer on this list.
But what was also interesting is that he’s been asking for sweet corn – a lot. It’s like the song reminded him he loves it, and I hadn’t bought it in a while.
So, there you go, instant anecdotal sales.
But I’m not just here for anecdotes. TikTok is an incredibly powerful platform for people in the fresh produce industry to do exactly what we’ve been talking about for decades: tell our story, from our point of view.
I recently gave a talk about it to attendees at the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas BB #:144354 annual convention in Tubac, AZ.
When I first heard about the platform, I think it was in one of the big, sweeping, “State of the Industry” type presentations, but it was proposed as a way for buyers to sell to consumers direct, with a few videos from growers using the platform as kind of a QVC for fruits and vegetables. I kind of dismissed it. No way would that work for the produce industry, except for a few notable exceptions, like direct-to-consumer sales gift fruit and specialty boxes.
When I downloaded the app to check it out at first, it was an insane miasma of teenagers doing viral dances, and just…really bad content about fruits and vegetables. My 14-year-old takes great delight in showing me gross (I hope parody) accounts that talk about eating whole sticks of butter every day.
But then, I started to interact with the algorithm, and once I let the platform know what I wanted, I’m being served up excellent content. Quick, delicious recipes, informative how-to’s, and neighbor drama are fascinating – and addictive – to watch. I love it when they show me mechanics learning some trick about fixing an obscure engine part that completely changes their world.
So, after about six months of “professional research” (aka scrolling TikTok for way longer than I care to admit), I jumped in.
And the reception, and views I’m seeing are far beyond what I was getting on other platforms. A quick video about Carbon Robotics LaserWeeder grabbed more than 30,000 views in a week.
But wait, that’s not all! TikTok is dramatically changing other platforms’ use of video. Everything’s going vertical, for one. And even though it seems like the audiences are vastly different, some of the content plays quite well across platforms.
I can’t tell you how many times someone has told me “I don’t do TikTok, I just watch the same videos when they make it over to Instagram Reels.” And then Instagram pushes Reels over to Facebook. Or the cool kids share TikToks on Facebook. You get where I’m going here. YouTube even has a TikTok-like feature called YouTube Shorts.
So, if you’ve been thinking about jumping in, this is your sign. I’ll discuss more about the how-to’s and how to measure ROI in Part 2.