New retail brands keep emerging as the demand for fresh produce continues to increase. In fact, branded produce sales are expected to reach almost US$7 billion by 2018, up from $5.6 billion in 2013.
To meet this demand and differentiate themselves from competitors, fresh produce brands are looking to build brand loyalty and illustrate value using a variety of marketing and advertising channels to reach and interact with their consumers — and that means increasing their focus and investment in marketing.
As consumer trends shift towards healthy eating, fresh produce is challenging processed food as the first choice for consumers, marketing themselves in spaces that are traditionally dominated by junk food. Consider Super Bowl XLIX where advertisements for fast food and cars shared the platform with a 60 second avocado ad (costing nearly US$4 million), funded by a Mexican non-profit avocado organization that co-ordinates the marketing activities for their growers.
Social media builds loyalty, adds value for fresh produce brands
Social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram all have their role to play in marketing fresh produce brands, after all, if you want to connect with your consumers, why not do it in the places they hang out? Social media allows brands to connect with consumers in a low-cost, real-time, conversational way (and vice versa) allowing them to uncover the wants, needs and values of the people who are buying their product.
Social media sites are excellent platforms for the fresh produce industry, particularly avocados, which are the most posted food on Instagram — a site with 500 million active monthly users. West Pak Avocado is one leading avocado brand that is successfully leveraging social media channels to communicate with consumers and build brand loyalty.
“Our Social media channels play a big part in our yearly marketing strategies. Our mission is to add value to our brands by sharing merchandising, promotional information, and company updates to our customer audience, as well sharing relevant avocado recipes and educational content about our products with our loyal followers.” Doug Meyer, Sr. VP of Sales & Marketing – West Pak Avocado. Watch the West Pak story here.
Lachlan Donovan of Avodon is another great example of successful fresh produce marketing. Donovan pays The Avolution marketing group $1 per tray to market their fruit, who in return gets $3 to $4 a tray more than he used to.
“Marketing of fruit is about quality and flow, this is then matched to demand. Promotion is a collective effort across the whole supply chain to drive usage and demand. For us it’s about volume and quality marketing, coordinating and placing sizes and quality where it will get the best return for growers.” – Antony Allen, CEO – Avolution.
As fresh produce demand increases, so does the convenience factor. Fresh produce is being sold pre-packaged to compete with other readily available snack items. Take the demand for prepackaged guacamole which has sky rocketed with the growth of the avocado category. Packaging plays a big role in this new marketing investment as brands attempt to catch consumer attention at the point of sale and offer pack types that suit consumer’s lifestyles.
The fresh produce industry has its own unique set of challenges
Consumer interest in the food they buy evolves beyond just knowing who grew their food. For the fresh produce industry, quality control can be difficult as it is a perishable product. Consumers are looking for a quality, safe product, available 365-days a year — and are willing to pay a premium for it.
Fresh produce brands shoulder the responsibility of food trust, and must ensure traceability from orchard to consumer guaranteeing the produce is safe for consumption. Packhouses are looking to technology to ensure that every piece of produce meets the standard of their brand promise. As the saying goes, one bad piece of produce can spoil the bunch — and one bad eating experience can turn a consumer away from your brand. While social media has the ability to build brand loyalty for consumers, it can also take it away. Consumers will share their experiences, good and bad, with their followers.
By maintaining control over the supply chain and food safety standards, fresh produce brands can breeze through compliance standards, maintain global profitability and above all else, hold on to a consumer’s precious trust.