Produce marketers don’t exactly think their job is easy, but they do realize promoting healthy fruits and vegetables is easier than trying to sell other unhealthy treats.
Columbia Marketing International“We don’t face the same problems you might have with an unhealthier product,” said Steve Lutz, vice president of marketing for Columbia Marketing International, Wenatchee, Wash.
“What mom doesn’t like the idea of their child eating a fresh fruit that provides the recommended daily dose of vitamin A and C,” said Jim Grabowski, director of marketing for Watsonville, Calif.-based Well-Pict Berries.
“Parents like to please their kids, but they’re also interested in nutrition for their children. Balancing what pleases their kids with what is healthiest for them is the perfect balance,” said Mayra Velazquez de Leon, president of Organics Unlimited, San Diego.
The idea that parents already want to buy healthy foods for their children doesn’t mean that there is no marketing to be done. It just provides a good starting point.
In March, the Newark, Del.-based Produce Marketing Association, launched its Eat Brighter! campaign to get kids and families excited about eating those healthy items, not to discuss the health benefits of produce.
“We don’t need to sell the health message. It’s a given. Everyone knows produce is healthy,” Means said.
“We want to change the kinds of impressions children are seeing. We know marketing works. If you walk down the cereal aisle, it’s clear they have done a great job. We need to use the same kind of marketing,” Means said.
That typically means creating or using some type of animated character for children to relate to and interact with.
Brianna Shales, communications manager for Stemilt Growers LLC, Wenatchee, Wash., said the company isn’t involved in any licensing programs, although she understands they can have value.
“Those programs are good, but it has to be the right fit. And we found the big thing for us was building an attractive bag that appealed to kids,” she said.
“We looked into tying our product into a movie and found it wasn’t necessary. We can capture the attention and imagination of kids just by giving them a character,” said Steve Lutz, vice president of marketing, Columbia Marketing International, Wenatchee.
Others prefer to use well-known characters.
Brittany Wilmes, program coordinator for the Pear Bureau Northwest, said the organization’s partnership with Sprout TV’s LazyTown shows a clear lift in store sales when they include character materials in samplings or bring actors to the store for appearances.