How Amazon Ads helped Mountain House climb back to the top

22 December 2021 | By: Matt Miller, Sr. Copywriter

When the pandemic hit in early 2020, Mountain House – a brand that specializes in freeze-dried foods for adventures and emergency prep – found themselves in a complicated position. On one hand, Mountain House saw an incredible demand for its products, which are tasty and easy to prepare meals with a shelf life of 30 years.

“When COVID came, consumers were stocking up on emergency food, and our food is highly sought after,” said Mountain House’s E-Commerce Marketing Manager Cara O’Brien. “And they were not just purchasing for emergency food either. We saw more people become interested in outdoor recreation because they were looking for things they could do during the pandemic while social distancing. Our product is great for camping and backpacking because it’s lightweight and convenient – you just add water.”

Person lying in a canopy showing a package of Mountain House Adventure Meals

But, at the same time, Mountain House was working through an important rebranding while also trying to keep up with this increased demand. The brand traces its origins back to the Vietnam War, when the United States military put out a request for better food for its rations. Mountain House’s parent company, Oregon Freeze Dry, won the contract and has been making food for the US Special Forces and other branches of the military ever since. In 1969, they expanded to consumer products as Mountain House.

“Pre-pandemic we were leaders in the camping and backpacking category on Amazon. We had also been a trusted emergency preparation brand because our product not only tastes great, but has an incredible shelf life that consumers can find comfort in,” O’Brien said. “Then the pandemic hit at a unique time because we were in the middle of rebranding. Here we are, in the middle of a pandemic, trying to start from scratch everywhere.”

Not only was Mountain House working to rebrand, but it was also trying to keep up with the sudden, increased demand for its products.

“As the country began social distancing we saw demand spike across the county, and as an entire category, we weren't able to meet that demand,” said Mountain House Senior Brand Manager Josh Wark. “We also saw the category get more and more competitive, and it created a brand new positioning landscape.”

Going into 2021, Mountain House had successfully rebranded and had reached a better inventory position. The next goal was to re-gain their position in the camping and backpacking category, and even exceed it, this year.

quoteUpWe looked to Amazon Ads to put us in a better position to stay on the forefront of mind with returning consumers, as well as new shoppers entering the categoryquoteDown
– Cara O’Brien, Mountain House’s E-Commerce Marketing Manager

In June of 2021, Mountain House worked with Amazon Ads to launch an ambitious new campaign focused on a Sponsored Display multi-goal strategy for driving purchases with engaged shoppers in the camping categories they had previously excelled in and consideration with new customers in emergency preparedness categories.

“What we really wanted to do was not only stay top of mind with consumers and drive our brand awareness in our categories, but also expand into new categories,” O’Brien said. “Using Sponsored Display Onboarding Service (SDOS) we were able to focus on customers’ paths to purchase to bring in new consumers and to re-connect with existing ones.”

While using SDOS to reach newer customers in the emergency food aisles, Mountain House also utilized Amazon DSP to reach existing camping audiences at scale. SDOS is a 90-day service that lets brands partner with the Amazon Ads success teams to optimize reporting on Sponsored Display campaigns.

“For us personally, we're a small team, so to have the SDOS team go in and set up these campaigns for us it was great,” O'Brien said. “And any time we ran into any issues, as far as inventory or budget, they were able to go in and make our requested changes to keep our campaign running smooth and effective.”

A man and a woman sitting on camping chairs eating a package of Mountain House Adventure Meals

Compared to the pre-campaign period (March-May 2021), Mountain House saw ad-attributed impressions increase by 32%, clicks by 43%, orders by 27%, and sales by 36% during the SDOS campaign from June to August.1 50% of these orders were new-to-brand, meaning these shoppers haven’t purchased from Mountain House in the past 12 months.2 Mountain House also saw their branded queries increase by an average of 54% during the campaign period.3

“Amazon Ads helped us drive awareness and send a message about where we stand as a brand and where we want to go,” O’Brien said. “We have these campaigns that touch every part of the purchasing cycle.

quoteUpI would recommend using Amazon DSP and Sponsored Display and Amazon Ads in general, just to make sure you’re staying top of mind for consumers and reaching out and expanding your brand and sending the message you want out there.quoteDown
– Cara O’Brien, Mountain House’s E-Commerce Marketing Manager

Post SDOS, Mountain House decided to continue running their SDOS campaigns and expand their Sponsored Display strategy around camping.

O’Brien and Wark said Mountain House has undergone a seismic shift from where it was at even before the pandemic.

“We’re more clearly defined as a brand and the campaign has helped us solidify that in the minds of a lot of consumers,” Wark said. “We are a completely different brand than we were before the pandemic. From an awareness standpoint we’re able to leverage how and where we communicate to our consumers to spread the news of who we are, what we are, and what we believe.”

Wark said the brand is looking to continue growing and building on the awareness they’ve driven with Amazon Ads. “For us it’s really about the brand growing up and becoming cooler and more approachable for consumers,” Wark said.

1-3 Advertiser provided data, 2021