ANAHEIM, Calif. — Consumers don’t need to be educated as much as understood.
Three consumer trend consultants shared their views in an Oct. 26 Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit workshop, “Turning Consumers into Customers to Increase Consumption.”
Laurie Demeritt, president of The Hartman Group, Bellevue, Wash., said food trends change at a rapid pace, and it’s important to determine their motivations.
For instance, her research found that consumer drivers for local produce are much heavier on freshness, taste, seasonality and price, and less on environment and helping growers.
Karen Halliburton Barber, assistant vice president and senior agricultural analyst for Rabobank, N.A., said research shows that 85% of consumers say they choose a retail store based on local produce assortment.
Some ways retailers can appeal to these consumers are to have farmers markets on their property, giving loans to local growers and promoting items as “picked fresh daily.”
Barber said most retailers have always carried local product, but with the consumer demand rising, they need local suppliers to produce more, so they may need some help.
That also means local suppliers have to prove that they’re as safe as other produce and sustainable because there is a rising backlash against local produce.
Tish VanDyke, general manager of food and nutrition for public relations firm Edelman, said a company survey found half of consumers say the foods they eat make a statement about their values.
Consumers take their purchases seriously, she said.
“Consumers will reward companies that meet their expectations and punish those who don’t,” VanDyke said.