Is Cross Merchandising Ruining the Produce Section?

The Lempert Report
September 23, 2014

Produce departments are important to a store’s appeal.

It’s a vital component to generate trips, put shoppers in a buying mood, and position the store as a health and wellness destination. Especially when backed by nature imagery, water sprayers and bountiful displays, people feel uplifted by the department’s colors, aromas and freshness. And when they choose fruits and vegetables from this section of the store, they know they’re making a beneficial decision for their household.

With this being the case then, why do so many stores feel the need to water down the impact of the produce department with so much cross-merchandising?  Take for example, large displays of salad dressings, or croutons, or other pairings for certain seasons, like shortcake, whipped cream, crepes, chocolates. As consumers are making a push to eat healthier, it seems the focus should remain on selecting the best available produce.

The question for retailers should be; will they use produce as their stores’ key to freshness and wholesomeness, or as an opportunistic place to get people to buy other products? The solution should not be to end the practice entirely. But rather, tone it down.

The more retailers do to excite people about produce, the better. This could include tactile displays, a focus on local farmers, and signage and Web content about specific items arriving soon as their seasons roll around.