Fresh Perspectives on Fresh Produce From Next-Gen Marketers Unburdened by industry norms, student marketers’ insights provide a valuable lesson for the sector.
by LISA CORK
I recently returned to California part-time to lecture at my for- mer university. It has been my 30-year dream to be a univer- sity professor, and what a joy it has been. Next-gen student marketers, especially senior students, bring new thinking to old challenges, and I experienced this firsthand in one of the classes I teach: AGB445 - Fresh Produce Marketing. In my day job as a strategy con- sultant, I am a big believer in context. To create context for the produce marketing class, I had students do a ‘shelf-spotting’ assignment. Shelf-spotting involves going to a supermarket and doing a compare/ contrast exercise. For example: ‘Walk the fresh chilled perimeter and pay attention to the meat, seafood, dairy
and deli cases. Now, walk the store’s fresh produce department. Compare and contrast your observations. Walk the center store aisles, and look at shelf-stable products like muesli bars, etc. Compare and contrast your observations with the fresh produce department.’ You get the picture. Student observations were en- lightening. Unburdened by industry norms, they shared ideas, asked hard questions and pondered the oppor- tunities and challenges fresh produce marketing faces in a competitive supermarket environment. You can’t see flavor differences in fresh produce One insight brought up by multiple students was the ‘lack of variety’ in fresh produce versus consumer
packaged goods (CPG). As one stu- dent wrote, “My main observation in the CPG aisle was there were so many different brands and product varieties. Focusing on granola bars, half of the aisle was filled with dif - ferent brands, and every brand had bars with flavors like dark choco - late, cranberry and peanut butter. While the options were all about the same, they all looked different due to differences in their packaging and branding.”
34 Vision Magazine
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