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A new McCormick product sold out in under an hour — again

McCormick’s done it again.

The Hunt Valley-based seasonings company has created a new, limited-edition product that sold out nearly instantaneously. The Sunshine All-Purpose Seasoning, created in partnership with vegan influencer Tabitha Brown, launched Thursday morning, only to sell out in just under 40 minutes.

The launch mimics McCormick’s early 2020 release of Old Bay hot sauce, which also sold out less than an hour after it launched (unlike when the hot sauce went on sale, though, fans flocking to buy the Sunshine Seasoning didn’t crash McCormick’s website). After it sold out, the sauce, which is now available in stores, was being resold on eBay for $50 a pop, an upcharge of over 1,400%.

Old Bay hot sauce and Sunshine Seasoning “have probably been the two most successful product launches,” said Alia Kemet, McCormick’s vice president of creative and digital.

The success of the seasoning — a Caribbean-inspired spice blend containing pineapple, mango and other herbs and spices, which was sold online only — can be attributed in part to the company’s partnership with Brown. The 42-year-old influencer gained massive notoriety in March 2020 when she began sharing vegan recipes and other videos on her TikTok account. She gained two million followers in five weeks, and now has over four million followers on TikTok and three million followers on Instagram.

Tabitha Brown Partners with McCormick® to Release an Exclusive New Seasoning Just in Time for Summer 2021

Tabitha Brown partnered with McCormick to release the exclusive new seasoning. (PRNewswire photo)

Brown promoted the product on her social media accounts leading up to Thursday’s launch. On Wednesday, she uploaded a video to Instagram of her making a vegan burger using the seasoning, which got half a million views. A TikTok she made promoting the product got 10 million views and over 285,000 likes.

While this wasn’t McCormick’s first time working with a celebrity to promote a product, this is the first product the company co-developed with a content creator, Kemet said.

“At the start of the pandemic, we were receiving a lot of questions from people who were cooking more and needed help in the kitchen. We reevaluated the content we were making, started talking more directly to McCormick fans, and encouraging them to cook alongside us,” she said. “Like many, a lot of us were working from home and consuming more content. We quickly identified Tabitha as someone we’d like to work with because her messaging resonated with our brand tagline, ‘It’s Gonna Be Great,’ which was intended to be helpful and inspire confidence in the kitchen.”

The company first worked with Brown on a Facebook live event, where viewers watched her cook one of her recipes from her kitchen. Because the event was so well-received, McCormick chose to continue working with Brown, leading to the development of the Sunshine Seasoning. Along with the new product, Brown is now a McCormick spokeswoman and will incorporate the company’s products into her cooking and social media content.

Yogesh Joshi, an associate professor of marking at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School, said that partnerships between influencers and brands can be powerful marketing tools for two reasons. Not only are the influencers able to drum up excitement around the product, but they are also able to help companies develop products that they know will be popular among their colleagues and fans.

“Finding the right person is quite important because when you have the right person, the input you get for the product you’re trying to make is very relevant,” he said. “Not only have you engaged the influencer, but you’ve also created a product that’s of a higher quality. It kind of works hand in hand.”

Kemet said that the product was not intended to sell out as rapidly as it did; new products usually take McCormick at least two years to develop (Old Bay hot sauce was in the works for over five), but the Sunshine Seasoning was conceptualized and released much more rapidly, leading to the limited stock. A restock is planned for the fall.

Even if it wasn’t the company’s plan, limited runs of items can be strong marketing tools, Joshi said. Common with products like Nike sneakers, a limited-edition product (especially one that sells out as quickly as this seasoning did) can lead to a lot of buzz and conversation that will still benefit the company even when the product is no longer limited.

“Scarcity is a fairly popular tactic that brands sometimes use to launch and promote new products,” he said. “If there are many people who are interested, it creates demand and conversation around it, and a lot of that stays around.”


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