Kids enjoy a classroom visit from CMI Orchards' Hero brand apples. ( Photo courtesy CMI Orchards )

Familiar faces can help sell fruits and vegetables to families with children, marketers say.

“Earning the trust of consumers is more important now than ever,” said Megan Wade, product development and marketing manager for Cashmere, Wash.-based Crunch Pak

“It’s easy to jump on Google, learn about the company and make purchase decisions based on factors outside the store aisle. Ask any marketer — we are all tackling the same issues. How do you connect with customers on a deeper level? With the internet, companies have more touchpoints with consumers. 

“It’s not just about standing out on the shelf anymore,” Wade said. “Crunch Pak has partnerships with influencers across the country as well as partnerships with Disney Digital Network and other brand partners.”

Bil Goldfield, director of corporate communications for Westlake Village, Calif.-based Dole, said research has confirmed that kids who see their favorite characters promoting fruits and vegetables are more likely to eat healthier.

“This direct correlation between popular animated, film and other characters and positive behavior can be most beneficial inside the store when these characters are printed on fresh fruits and vegetables to help promote a healthier lifestyle,” Goldfield said. 

Captain Marvel bananas
Photo courtesy Dole Food Co.

“Thanks to its ongoing multiyear collaboration with Disney, Dole has successfully attracted new fresh produce users, especially families with kids, by featuring the latest Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm characters on and in conjunction with Dole bananas, pineapples, vegetables, salads and berries.”

Some produce companies have created their own characters to appeal to the youngest consumers.

“Fun and bright colors on packaging or signage is the easy answer, but making your product stand out on display is much more difficult than it sounds — especially when everyone else is trying to do the same,” said Danelle Huber, marketing specialist for Wenatchee, Wash.-based CMI Orchards

“We’ve had success with our Hero brand by appealing to kids with our ‘superhero’ character and to parents with the snack-sized apples inside, perfect for lunch boxes and little hands. We’ve created eye-catching displays that ship with fruit inside so they’re super easy for produce managers to set up. These instant displays capture customer attention and really help retailers drive sales. 

“Another thing that parents love is that our Hero brand is tied to an empowering message for little ones: ‘The Power to Be a Hero is in Your Hands,’” Huber said. “In the past, as part of Hero marketing efforts, we’ve visited schools and engaged classrooms in efforts to promote hometown or everyday heroes, sharing that anyone can be a hero, no matter how big or small.”

Piñata Lil Snappers
Photo courtesy Stemilt Growers


Wenatchee, Wash.-based Stemilt Growers has seen big success with its Lil Snappers brand that caters to kids, said communications manager Brianna Shales. 

In addition to working to stand out in stores, many brands look to engage consumers online.

“We do blog posts on smart snacking ideas for kids and busy families utilizing Lil Snappers and have done influencer outreach to introduce the brand to a broader consumer audience,” Shales said. 

“We’ve had fun consumer giveaways via social media to award the ‘Snappiest Lil Snappers’ and highlight the funny things that kids say.”

The appeal of familiar faces extends beyond characters on packaging, however. Influencer marketing also continues to gain ground as consumers heed testimonials from people who’ve gained fame from blogs and YouTube.

The Weelicious Family visits Halos groves.
The Weelicious family visits The Wonderful Co.'s Halos groves. Photo courtesy The Wonderful Co.

Los Angeles-based The Wonderful Co. partnered with several YouTube celebrities to promote its Halos, including the 8-year-old star of Ryan’s ToysReview, who gets more than a billion views per month.

Wonderful has also collaborated with mom and blogger Weelicious and worked with The Holderness Family, notable for their viral Christmas videos, to showcase Halos as an ideal solution for group snacks.

“The humorous video is posted across their Facebook, Instagram and YouTube channels and has received hundreds of comments from fellow parents sharing their own trials and tribulations when it comes to tackling snack duty,” said senior vice president of marketing Adam Cooper.

Angela Serna, marketing manager for the National Mango Board, said her org has also embraced influencers, both kids and moms. 

NMB also aims to be a resource with the content that it creates.

“Parents, especially millennial parents, are committed to buying healthy foods and products for themselves and their children,” Serna said.

“These digital natives are constantly seeking out information on food and health on Google, on YouTube and even on social media. Our marketing efforts include ensuring that our web content and social content are optimized to help consumers, and especially parents, find the answers and inspiration that they are searching for with their fruit and food questions.”

Wade echoed that sentiment.

“The goal is to be a tool for the consumer — don’t just be a ‘billboard’ but offer solutions to everyday needs, i.e. what to cook for dinner, presents for kids, money-saving options, fun bonding ideas for families, etc.,” Wade said. 

“As customers enter the store we rely on bright, high graphic packaging that jumps off the shelf, but also hope we’ve done our best to support the consumer and make their lives simpler.”

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