Marketing agents get creative selling more berries at retail - The Packer

Marketing agents get creative selling more berries at retail

05/05/2009 02:14:39 PM
Jim Offner

Large clamshells and small, two-for-one sales, multi-colored displays, cross-promotions, coupon recipe contests and in-store demonstrations comprise several options for getting consumers’ attention.

With all that, plus more ideas presented in various media, there are ample marketing opportunities in retail stores for the berry category, according to marketing specialists.

“The key word is going to be value,” said Bob Von Rohr, marketing and customer relations manager for Sunny Valley International Inc., Glassboro, N.J. “The retailer will be more cautious than ever this year.”

That’s why a wide assortment of marketing strategies is helpful, he said.

Some retailers plug locally grown berries, with much success, said Frank Bragg, chief executive officer of Grand Junction, Mich.-based MBG Marketing.

“The locally grown is a very powerful motivator,” he said. “We had a blueberry display at the local Wal-Mart Supercenter during the festival in South Haven, Mich. I believe we had 5,000 cases in that display. We featured four of the local growers that contributed to the product that was there in that store.”

The effort resulted in as many blueberry sales in three days as the entire chain might have sold over a month, Bragg said.

“We had the right display, obviously, at the right price,” he said. “We sold out by Sunday. We couldn’t keep the store stocked.”

Berries have the compelling visual marketing advantage of color, Bragg said.

“Blueberries may not always be on the consumer’s shopping list, so the display is a way to get the consumer to seek blueberries,” he said.

Pricing strategies can work if done right, Bragg noted.

“Frankly, soft ads, typically smaller discounts than you’d give to a produce buyer, only ends up being a 10% or 15% discount,” he said. “It’s where we get into a partnership with a retailer, and we’ll bring down our wholesale price, and they bring down their price, and we receive the velocity all of us need to make money.”

Variety in pack sizes also can be an effective retail strategy, said Art Galletta, sales manager for Atlantic Blueberry Co. Inc., Hammonton, N.J.

“It’s very costly to make product changes, and there are actually quite a few sizes that farmers do now that gives the retailers a wider array of selection of what they want to buy,” he said.

Larger pack sizes may be more compelling this year in a recession, Galletta said.

“I think you’re going to see some of that this year,” he said. “In this economy, we need to offer a value proposition for the consumer to move the fruit, that’s for sure. So I see some creativity in that area.”

Berry marketing agents have spent years studying optimal display locations in retail stores, and it has paid off, said Mark Munger, vice president of marketing for San Diego-based Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce.

“The (California) strawberry commission has spent a lot of money researching the best and most ideal place,” he said. “Strawberries are a destination category. Almost every consumer will buy strawberries at least once a year. The best place to have them is front and center.”

Nevertheless, work continues on keeping retailers informed about the best storage and handling practices, Munger said.

“The cold chain is the most important thing to maintain,” he said. “Keeping berries in a high-traffic area, and people are primed to buy them. Trying to keep them on a refrigerated dry table is a challenge.”



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