Marketing Matters

The fruits and vegetables section at Whole Foods in San Francisco

Z consumers to the category who want to buy what is new, seasonal and interesting. Moving beyond commodity A related issue students also ob- served was how fresh produce is only sold as a commodity and how this limits sales and opportunities. As students said: • “CPG aisles don’t need to sell you looks/freshness, which is why every item in the CPG aisle is pure market- ing. The entire package is covered in things to attract the consumer, whether it be short and easy health facts or colors to draw you in.” • “Overall, I was not as drawn to the produce section. I found this interesting, because I am a regular buyer of fruit/veg. I had no interest

in trying something new as nothing drew me in or told me a story. I be- lieve the biggest issue with the fresh produce section is its lack of emo- tional involvement with consumers.” • “Every other aisle in the super- market was full of creative packaging that jumped out at me while I walked the aisle. It’s like every other depart- ment knows they have to work hard to capture my attention. Produce doesn’t seem to act like it has to. Maybe produce assumes I will buy it because it is healthy, but I am looking for more than that.” • “In fresh produce, it seems like product quality and type are more important than labeling, branding and differentiation. The history of fresh produce has made this the norm, but an opportunity for fresh

produce is to shift its marketing more towards consumer preferences for branding and brand story values.” For me, these student insights are a reminder consumers are always changing, and we must never get complacent about understanding our audiences. Today’s next-gen con- sumers want to be marketed to, and fresh produce’s reliance on its health and freshness credentials is no lon- ger enough. Younger consumers don’t want to buy a healthy commodity. They want to buy a brand, a story and an emotional connection. This is a powerful lesson for our industry to learn and respond to. • Lisa Cork is chief executive of Fresh Produce Marketing Ltd and Adjunct Professor of Produce Marketing at Cal Poly State University in California.

36 Vision Magazine

December 2022

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