While marketing and branding certainly loom large in today’s produce landscape, when it comes to enticing shoppers to buy more produce, they’re only part of the puzzle.
“Quality, freshness, cleanliness and variety drive the department,” asserts Rick Stein, VP, fresh foods for FMI. Research supports the idea that clean, well-stocked produce departments staffed with knowledgeable people will sell more produce, he adds.
“When your produce stand looks really clean and organized, and you cull out all the product that isn’t high-quality, not only does the consumer buy, they buy incrementally,” observes Stein. “Maybe they were going to buy 3 pounds, and that goes up to 5 pounds.”
While FMI’s “The Power of Produce 2016” research indicates that consumers believe they should eat more produce, it also shows that they may lack an understanding of certain fruits and vegetables.
“They want variety, but give them 15 kinds of apples, and maybe they only know Red Delicious,” notes Stein, underscoring the need for experienced staff and in-store education. “Consumers decide where to shop based on the store ad, but they decide what to buy once they’re in the store.”
Convenience is also a major trend, says Stein, who notes that value-added and convenience account for $11 billion of the $61 billion produce category. “People are more stressed for time, so the more you can do for them, the more they participate.”
And while Millennials are a sought-after demographic, one compelling revelation from “The Power of Produce” research is that multiple generations are contributing to the bottom line in important ways.
“Research shows that you can’t abandon a generation and overemphasize the next generation,” affirms Stein. For example, the majority of shoppers still read advertising circulars. “Retailers want to know how quickly they can go to digital and save on printed ad costs, but while the younger demographic is digital, both platforms are still needed,” he adds.
Ocean Mist Farms found that many Millennials were intimated by artichokes. In response, the Castroville, Calif.-based company launched the Don’t Be Afraid: Be an Artichoke Adventurer campaign earlier this year.
The grower offered multiple activities designed to generate awareness, including display and sales contests with retailers, radio ads, and a nationwide product launch featuring cleaned and ready-to-cook artichokes in Season & Steam packaging. Additionally, a consumer contest engaged home cooks, using the hashtag #ArtiAdventurer.
“Ocean Mist promoted the sweepstakes with email blasts to its more than 65,000 artichoke club members, in-store signage made available to retail customers, petal inserts affixed to some artichoke petals, and digitally through its website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts,” explains Diana McClean, director of marketing. The company also worked with traditional media outlets and social media influencers during the promotion.
“The combination of media outreach, in-store point of sale, [and] online and social media outreach delivered more than 7 million consumer impressions during the sweepstakes period,” adds McClean. As a result of the program, Ocean Mist branded artichoke dollar sales were up 32 percent for those four weeks versus a year ago.