Q&A: H-E-B discusses influencers for the holidays

Retailer expertly leverages influencers to promote own brands; Giovanna Dimperio, senior director of digital at H-E-B talks with Store Brands.
Dan Ochwat
Executive Editor
Dan Ochwat profile picture

San Antonio-based H-E-B is a beloved retailer, often scoring high on the consumer ratings lists, so finding loyal influencers likely isn’t difficult. Nevertheless, the retailer expertly leverages influencers, including for its own brands.

a woman smiling for the camera
Giovanna Dimperio, photo from LinkedIn

To help consumers find gifts or entertain for the holidays, the retailer leveraged influencers, tapping into Pinterest, Facebook and more. Giovanna Dimperio, senior director of digital marketing, social media and content at H-E-B, spoke with Store Brands about its influencer strategy.

This year, the retailer conducted a Holiday Influencer Insights Surveyto gather feedback and listen to their content creator network and tap into trends for the 2021 holiday season. The company found that cocktails and mocktails are leading ideas for entertaining as are ideas around Dalgona candy, inspired by a wicked test in the popular TV series “Squid Game.” In addition, H-E-B has partnered with James Van Der Beek to host a Holiday Shoppable Facebook event on Dec. 2.

Store Brands: What do influencers mean to H-E-B and its strategy, and how do they help promote private brand products for the retailer?
Giovanna Dimperio: Influencer partners have been incorporated to amplify, promote and creatively demonstrate how to use our H-E-B brands and products. When leveraging the authentic voice and reach of our influencer network we have seen success with products ranging from our H-E-B Sushiya Sushi and Meal Simple line to Creamy Creations Spurs Sherbet.

SB: How do you work with influencers as partners, listen to them, communicate with them to help execute the message that best fits your shoppers?
GD: One thing that sets our influencer marketing strategy apart from others is that we have true, long-standing relationships with our influencer partners. We learn about their lifestyles, if they have kids or pets and take the time to find out what products they like at H-E-B. In addition, we take the time to introduce them to new products and offer background and perspective. As a result, our partners create truly authentic, engaging content that followers love. 

SB: Why are influencers so important during the holidays, and what are some programs you’re doing that might spotlight some H-E-B own brand products?
GD: We have so many wonderful things underway for the holiday season. To tap into authentic content from relationships with top influencers, we gathered feedback and listened to the content creators to help determine real trends and traditions for the 2021 holiday season. The influencer insights uncovered this season's holiday trends and found things like snack mixes, Dalgona candy and blackstone grilling lead the way.

a group of people sitting at a fruit stand
Texas-shaped Dalgona cookie tray.

SB: How will this year’s holiday digital and influencer strategy differ from years before, what have you learned or improved upon?
GD: When it comes to digital and influencer marketing, at H-E-B we are always willing to test, learn and evolve. Here are some of the new test-and-learn opportunities we are implementing this holiday season:

  • Partnership with Pinterest  — While influencer's authentic holiday content will live across all H-E-B social platforms, we will elevate our engagement with Pinterest this season. Select inspirational influencer content will be posted in a new "Idea Pin" format on Pinterest during the holidays.
  • Holiday Shoppable Facebook Event — On Dec. 2, Texas fans can tune in to Facebook to join in and shop A Very Texas Holiday with H-E-B hosted by James Van Der Beek including other Texas special guests celebrating the diverse ways Texans celebrate the holidays complete with giveaways and guest appearances.

SB: Do you have any advice for influencers who may want to work with H-E-B and grocers, what can they do to be the best partner for the retailer and its store brands?
GD: We love influencers who are genuinely passionate about our stores, brands and products. For those who reach out and want to work with us, we first get to know them and then match our creator network to the right opportunities.