‘Amateurish but authentic’: NZ’s Forty Thieves keeps up with video marketing trends to appeal to short attention spans

By Hui Ling Dang

- Last updated on GMT

Forty Thieves’ nut butters are catered to differing consumer preferences in its domestic and overseas markets. ©Forty Thieves
Forty Thieves’ nut butters are catered to differing consumer preferences in its domestic and overseas markets. ©Forty Thieves

Related tags New zealand nut butters Peanut butter Spreads Marketing

Auckland-based nut butter producer Forty Thieves is investing in social media content creation and influencer marketing to target online consumers, whom it says have increasingly shorter attention spans.

From roasting and milling of raw materials to blending ingredients and bottling of products, Forty Thieves has been producing its nut butters fully in-house for the past seven years.

According to co-owner and marketing director Shyr Godfrey, the brand’s marketing strategies have evolved considerably since it was launched, with the biggest difference being the way social media and its algorithms work today.

“Our posts used to be seen by more people and the content were mostly just images. People’s attention span is getting shorter nowadays, so we are prioritising Instagram reels and TikTok videos. That is definitely a big change because it takes longer to create videos, yet people consume them in an instant and move on quickly.

“In the past, content creation was largely done by big advertising firms. Brands would spend a long time and a big budget on a short video to be used on various platforms over and over again. But now, it’s more about quantity — although quality is still important, people are more inclined to watching slightly amateurish footage that feels more authentic and made by the business itself, rather than a big marketing company,” ​she told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

To keep up with these demands, the firm has hired an in-house video producer to “create content that consumers like to see”, such as manufacturing processes, new flavour developments, and serving suggestions.

At the same time, it has invested in influencer marketing to extend Forty Thieves’ reach to a wider audience.

Beyond the digital space, the brand is also gearing up efforts in on-ground marketing.

“After COVID-19, we find that consumers are really receptive to trying and experiencing the products in person. We are getting back into the community by doing a lot more sampling in supermarkets, and providing our nut butters for different events that are aligned with our values.”

Catering to differing consumer preferences

Forty Thieves’ products are sold on its website and stocked at more than 400 supermarket chain stores in New Zealand.

The brand has also started exporting to Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan in recent years.

“For our main export markets, we were approached by local and overseas distributors. They gave us a lot of information about local consumers’ behaviours and their spending habits, which we then tailored our export range to suit,” ​said Godfrey.

The product line-up consists of about 15 nut butters of different flavours and textures, including two new flavours Chocolate Fudge Peanut Butter and Cinnamon Donut Peanut Butter that are targeted at children.  
While the peanut butter series are its best-sellers across all markets, speciality butters, such as Salted Macadamia with Maple and Vanilla and Peanut Satay, have been particularly popular among overseas consumers.

“We use high-quality Argentinian peanuts, so the flavour is very strong. I think the main reason why our peanut butter performs well is because people are very familiar with it — they know how to bake with it or use as a spread.

“On the other hand, the speciality butters showcase our creativity and are a little more special, which we believe appeals to consumers in our export markets.”

In addition, Godfrey shared that although Forty Thieves has reduced focus on its keto spreads in New Zealand due to changing consumer preferences, the demand for this range is still prominent in Asia.

Although overseas markets offer significant growth opportunities, the firm is avoiding “spreading itself too thin” through rapid expansion.

“Exportation allows us to unlock a whole new customer base. Our products may be more unique overseas than they are locally. For every market that we go into, we want to make sure that we are entering with the best possible products and that we market them in the right way, so they don’t sit on the shelves.

“We do have some expansion plans but for now, we intend to continue growing with the three export markets first.”

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