Use Apple’s model to sell more perishables

The Lempert Report
January 18, 2013

Fruits and vegetables may be nutrition kings, but they’re popularity paupers.

Fruits and vegetables may be nutrition kings, but they’re popularity paupers. Repeated industry and government efforts have failed to coax produce consumption beyond the three-servings-a-day mark –well below what experts say our bodies should have. Perhaps retailers and suppliers should look to the apple for advice. Not the fruit—the technology company. Apple has been a phenomenon for years. Its success largely stems from the way the brand builds consumer demand ahead of product launches, then usually meets or exceeds reasonable expectations with superior design and performance. Like Apple, why not hype specific produce items to excite demand before their seasons start? How much more clementine and persimmon volume could your stores be selling right now—if you had messaged (on signs, blackboards, Web and Twitter) before their arrivals and continued to market with sampling and serving ideas? Heirloom tomatoes, and distinctive varieties of melons, peaches and plums are among multiple opportunities in produce alone. Messaging builds early buzz, tasting sustains the momentum. Because produce is largely unbranded, and because stores would reap the rewards of sampling programs, we urge retailers to bear this expense. These programs could help advance the image of supermarkets as health and wellness centers. Another way to connote freshness and spur buying is merchandising on the vine. H&Y Market strikes a visual with brussel sprouts on their thick vines. Many stores sell tomatoes and grapes on the vine – it looks natural and helps keep them “alive” longer. Bibb lettuce sold in clamshell boxes has its roots at the bottom, so a little water there can go a long way. It is time for us to learn a bit from others outside our industry.