It’s the chicken, not the egg

Two red hens pecking at grass.

Storytelling when your product is not your story

When you want to sell more of your product, your corporate story should be about your product, right? For one admirable business storyteller, the answer is no. And they have finally resolved the proverbial puzzle — the chicken did come before the egg.

Vital Farms is a nationwide producer of eggs from pasture-raised chickens, working with family farms across the U.S. There is no shortage of eggsperts who will tell you about the nutrition advantages of pasture-raised, free-range, organic, or non-GMO certified eggs. But those aren’t the facts that draw customers into the Vital Farms story.

It’s all about the happy hens. When you first see a Vital Farms egg carton, you know there’s a story behind these orbs. Decorated in a home-spun way, the cartons tell you about happy hens. Pleased pullets. Chickens that are free to forage outdoors year-round … on green grass … under open skies. They’re “made with fresh air and sunshine.” And called Alfresco, for goodness sakes. How much happier can anyone be about pleasant poultry?  But the eggs themselves are barely mentioned!

And, jaded marketing writer that I am, I bit. I tried a dozen. As the granddaughter of two sets of farmers, I liked the idea that the hens could peck around in the dirt. Because a hen is most delighted when snapping bugs out of the barnyard dust and picking at the grass. And I thought that the brag of “vegetarian-fed hens” by some egg producers was, at best, disingenuous. Although I wasn’t thrilled about the factory farming of chickens and eggs, I’d never been much of an activist.

But the story reached out and grabbed me. Because when I opened the carton, there was a downright cute miniature newspaper telling me more about those happy hens and their marvelous eggs. I learned that the green grass was Mother Nature’s salad bar. The hens were referred to as “our girls” or “the ladies” – they were respected partners in this production. I even met the Bird of the Month in each edition.

And you know what? The eggs tasted good. They’ve been ranked highly by many of those aforementioned eggsperts, and they have a loyal and growing following. Do they taste better than other eggs? I think so. Are they worth the premium price (albeit lower than some other pasture-raised eggs)? In my book, yes. I’ve been buying Vital Farms’ pasture-raised eggs (and now their delicious butter) for quite a while now. Was I specifically looking for “better eggs”? Not really.

But I was egged on by a story about happy hens. Eating bugs out of the grass. And leisurely enjoying life in a sunny, spacious pasture on a bucolic farm. I’m yet another victim of a corporate story told in a captivating way. And enjoying every bite of it.