Marketing challenges inspire changes

11/05/2013 03:40:00 PM
Melissa Shipman

Courtesy Homegrown Organic FarmsSuppliers often provide retail display bins that include educational information for consumers, such as this design from Homegrown Organic Farms. Marketing organic produce brings some special challenges.

For one thing, at many stores organic displays are quite small, which means they don’t see as much traffic.

“The biggest thing we’re challenged with is small displays,” said Roger Pepperl, marketing director of Stemilt Growers Inc., Wenatchee, Wash.

Another problem can be the higher price associated with organic produce.

“The cost will probably always be as much as twice as much, so there is a lot of pressure as retailers want bigger and better deals,” said Diane Dempster, organic specialist for Seattle-based wholesaler Charlie’s Produce.

Unfortunately, the price isn’t as negotiable as the size of displays, so suppliers seek to increase consumer awareness and grow demand for the category through marketing.

And, as the demand for organic product grows, the displays tend to grow as well.

“I’ve noticed more and more retailers have dedicated organic sections,” said Karen Caplan, president and chief executive officer of Frieda’s Specialty Produce, Los Alamitos, Calif.

“Organic products can really stand out by having a designated section that’s set apart with the proper labeling,” Caplan said.

Having organic options on ad is also an important part of marketing efforts, Pepperl said.

“We like to see promotions happen every so often,” he said. “Promotion forces produce managers to build larger displays to support those ads.”

Pepperl thinks that by placing organics on special, it creates an exciting atmosphere.

“We try to create a festival atmosphere to let people know that retailer is a real player in organics,” he said.

Lakeside Organic Gardens, Watsonville, Calif., recently launched an idea to gain more public attention, and they took the promotion to the streets.

In July, the company redesigned its trucks used on local routes to include bright, high-graphic wraps.

The trucks — which feature the company’s logo, as well as a talking carrot cartoon that exclaims, “Don’t panic, it’s organic!” — are meant to be fun and bright and attract attention while making daily deliveries.

“These trucks make our local deliveries throughout California and most commonly to the San Francisco Bay Area,” spokeswoman Lindsey Roberts said in an e-mail.

Roberts described the trucks are providing “roadside entertainment” to consumers while the produce is shipped throughout the area.


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