Avocado marketing reaches many different consumers

02/28/2013 04:41:00 PM
Vicky Boyd

Avocado consumers come in many different forms, from those who shop for larger fruit to those who seek bargain prices to those who shop for them nearly daily and make volume purchases.

AvocadoFile photoBy offering a couple of different sizes of bulk fruit as well as bagged product, retailers can cater to those different shopping habits and increase overall category sales, said Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing for the Irvine-based California Avocado Commission.

“If you have a customer who likes to have a large avocado, say a 48, and you also have a smaller size, you’re appealing to your different customers,” she said.

Doug Meyer, vice president of sales and marketing for Murrieta, Calif.-based West Pak Avocado Inc., said adding bagged product helps retailers expand the category if they were previously just on a bulk program.

“It’s another way to drive additional sales in the category,” he said.

Many retailers have successfully bought into this concept, DeLyser said.

“Avocados have become such a contributor to the produce department sales, so most retailers have found a permanent display for them,” she said. “Depending on the market and the location, you can see as many as four or five different (stock-keeping units).”

To help boost sales, Rob Wedin, vice president of sales and fresh marketing for Santa Paula, Calif.-based Calavo Growers Inc., recommended retailers use all ripe fruit in bulk displays rather than a mix of one-third green and two-thirds ripe.

In the end, they’ll experience less shrink because consumers won’t have to search as much through the display to find a ripe piece of fruit.

“We believe that the best success comes when the whole display is ripe,” he said. “There’s less spoilage because the shopper is trained that they don’t need to pinch all of the avocados. The shopper does a lot less damage.”

As in real estate, location also is important in moving avocados. A study sponsored by the California Avocado Commission found best sales and volumes were achieved when bulk avocados were displayed with tomatoes.

When bulk avocados were paired with other produce items, such as onions, lemons or peppers, sales volumes increased by up to 11.7%.

Secondary displays, including racks with hanging mesh bags, also can boost sales, DeLyser said.

A commission survey found that bagged avocado sales increased more than 15% when displayed with onions and more than 10% when displayed alone and away from bulk avocados.

DeLyser said some packers offer racks or stands that allow retailers to move displays of bagged avocados around the store.

West Pak Avocado is one of those that offers retailers portable secondary displays, such as bag racks and display bins, for cross-merchandising opportunities, Meyer said.

Examples include displaying bagged avocados near the deli section, near the chip aisle or in the store front, which can prompt impulse purchases.

“Bags are another growth vehicle that continue to do well for us,” he said.

Bagged avocados may have started as a club-store item, but Dave Fausset, sales and category manager for Mission Produce Inc., Oxnard, Calif., said their popularity has spilled over into traditional retailers.

“We’re finding the bag program continues to increase across the country, whether it’s in the club stores or even traditional retailers,” he said. “What (traditional retailers) are finding when they put out bags, it’s not cannibalizing their individual sales. They’re actually finding a different customer.”

Bagged products also are popular with customers of Index Fresh Inc., said Dana Thomas, president.

The Bloomington, Calif.-based grower-packer, which markets under the AvoTerra label, offers a wide variety of configurations based on fruit count or weight.

“We’ve found in the avocado category that you can run multiple displays and not cannibalize sales,” Thomas said. “You might have a size 48, you might have a smaller product and you might have a bag with four or five count — each at a different price point because you’re reaching a different consumer.”



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