Mushroom marketing agents say they have an array of promotional strategies to fit a variety of tastes.
No single strategy is best, they say.
“People eat mushrooms for different reasons, so certainly, when you’re targeting those segments, you need to be sure you’re speaking to each segment,” said Gary Schroeder, president of Kennett Square, Pa.-based Oakshire Mushroom Farm, which does business as Dole Mushrooms.
“From that perspective, you use ... the communication tools and the language that each of those segments is receptive to.”
Multiple target consumers
Some shoppers look at price. Some seek a high-nutrition message. Others shop for convenience.
Schroeder said mushroom marketing can reach those audiences and more.
“There are certainly value shoppers right now, and those people, you have a value message, and you talk about that to them,” he said.
“There are other folks that are taste-driven, so obviously, you need to have your conversation about taste. And you have this group that (buy because) mushrooms are healthy. That’s the overlay that covers all of those, that, no matter what your motivation is, mushrooms are a nutritional powerhouse.”
Even in promoting the nutritional content of mushrooms, that message also can be disseminated in different ways, Schroeder said.
A well planned and executed promotion offers substantial help to sales, said Fletcher Street, marketing and sales director with Olympia, Wash.-based Ostrom Mushroom Farms.
She said the Internet has been invaluable in conveying promotional messages.
“As people try things on the Internet, social media, cooking magazines, they’re going to find more uses for mushrooms,” she said.
Retailers can market mushrooms effectively, said Jane Rhyno, sales and marketing director for Leamington, Ontario-based Highline Mushrooms.
“Retailers continue to use ads as their primary promotion tool to help drive sales and tonnage in the category,” Rhyno said. “At Highline, we are also looking to help educate and inspire the consumers with great info and ideas about mushrooms.
Highline offers point-of-sales tools to tell consumers about the nutritional benefits of eating mushrooms and suggest serving ideas. Highline also uses social media to speak directly to consumers, she said.
Per-case ad allowances, which allow for flexibility, comprise most of the promotions for Abbotsford, British Columbia-based Champ’s Mushrooms, said Harvey Mitchler, manager of sales and marketing.
“Retailers plan their promotions according to their calendar, not ours,” he said.
“We often offer additional promotional allowances at times when inventory is in excess. We avoid promotions at peak holiday times.”
Mulitple prices, large packs
Two strategies stand out, according to Joe Caldwell, vice president of Watsonville, Calif.-based Monterey Mushrooms Inc.
“One, promoting multiple-item prices — the two-for-$3 type of things — it’s a really good value,” he said.
The second trend is larger packs, Caldwell said.
“Most consumers, especially with the economic downturn, weren’t shopping for the lowest price point. They were looking for the best value, and the larger packages give you more value,” he said.
“We’re seeing 16-ounce, even 24-ounce. The baby bellas were once only offered in the 6-ounce packs, and now we’re seeing retailers put out 16-ounce packs.”
At foodservice, weekly specials can be effective, said Paul Frederic, vice president of sales and marketing for Avondale, Pa.-based To-Jo Mushrooms.
“Most operators put out a weekly special or whatever,” he said. “We like to get on that special that draws attention to mushrooms. We offer a discount, which kind of keeps mushrooms out in front. And we can also tie that in if we see good production on portabellas or shiitakes and can offer those in strong supply on promotion and help to balance our production or sales.”