Berries are purchased for a number of reasons, including their health benefits and good-looking displays. Not only are berries no longer just impulse buys, but they are also popping up on more shoppers' lists.
Berries are purchased for a number of reasons, including their health benefits and good-looking displays. Not only are berries no longer just impulse buys, but they are also popping up on more shoppers' lists.

Fresh berries can be impulse buys or planned purchases, sources say.

“Berries are both a household staple as well as an impulse buy. Consumers are increasingly becoming more health conscious and aware that certain foods, like berries, should be a part of their daily routine,” said Kyla Oberman, marketing manager for Naturipe Farms LLC, Estero, Fla.

This trend means more consumers are ready to consistently place berries on their shopping list.

“The Strawberry Commission recently released research findings about consumer shopping trends and show that more consumers are putting fresh berries on their shopping list, versus previously just buying on impulse,” said Cindy Jewell, director of marketing, California Giant Berry Farms Inc., Watsonville, Calif.


Nutritional Information

One important reason berries are beginning to be added to weekly shopping lists around the country is that consumers are more educated on the health benefits berries offer.

“Thanks to the media and the work of the industry, it’s now common knowledge that blueberries are healthy,” said Marcos Nuques, West Coast sales manager, Giumarra International Berry, Los Angeles.

Much of that consumer-related health and nutrition information comes from research supported by various berry organizations.

“We strongly support the research results we receive from the Strawberry Commission and the North American Blueberry Council on health attributes of fresh berries,” Jewell said. Jewell said she thinks it’s important to forward any new findings on to consumers because the information helps shoppers make valuable decisions on what to put in the cart when they shop for fresh fruit.

“If they know the nutritional values of fresh berries when shopping for their family, it helps to make sure we are on the shopping list,” Jewell said.


Displays matter

Despite the idea that more consumers are planning their berry purchases before they enter the store, displays are still extremely important.

“Even though 50% of consumers believe that strawberries are healthy and on their shopping list, 66% still make that final purchasing decision based on the appearance of the display,” Jewell said.

The quality of berries is also critical because consumers won’t buy berries they deem to be either damaged, underripe or overripe.

In order to better market to the consumer who plans on buying berries before they enter the store, Jewell said California Giant has tried to increase the quality of their berries even more.

“We do a double inspection process, one in the field and one as they are packed at the cooler, because we want to make sure we have the best quality when our berries are on display at retail,” she said.

Companies that want their product to stand out on the shelves need to have appealing packaging as well as great-looking berries.

That means companies have to constantly re-evaluate their packaging to see how to best communicate with consumers.

“We try to work with what we see from the research done by the Strawberry Commission,” Jewell said.

As a result, the company has revamped its packaging with a slightly different message to consumers.

“There’s a whole new set of information on the backside of the pack based on what we’re learning about consumers. We’ve included a health message and suggested links to give them the instant resources they want,” Jewell said.


Impulse buys

However, impulse purchases are still significant, so marketers strongly recommend keeping a berry display in a prominent location.

“We see retailers who feature all the berries together at the front of the store have great success,” said Nolan Quinn, berry category director for The Oppenheimer Group, Vancouver, British Columbia.

“It makes for a nice impulse purchase when customers see nice big beautiful berries on display,” he said.

Jim Grabowski, director of marketing for Watsonville, Calif.-based Well-Pict Berries, agrees that large displays are effective, especially for summer.

“At this time of the year, it seems that the ‘berry patch’ concept seems to work best at retail for the promotion and sales of all types and varieties of berries,” he said.

Oberman said convenient packaging also helps encourage impulse buys.

“For those consumers who choose berries on an impulse — that’s where items such as our ready-to-eat blueberry snacks are ideal. The value-added category is perfect for the impulse purchase customer,” she said.