( The Packer staff )

Raley’s hit the nail on the head with its new campaign — and not just because its photos and videos highlight fresh produce.

As much as we hear about consumer education, the buzzword that best encapsulates the goal in produce and grocery now is accommodation.

Raley’s debuted its campaign with the tagline “However You Eat,” and that message is exactly what people want to hear.

In an age of instant gratification gone wild and options galore, shoppers are probably wondering why it took so long to get here. Customer service above all remains the mantra for many stores, but Sacramento, Calif.-based Raley’s has taken it to the next level.
Its new Shelf Guide identifies for shoppers the two most relevant product attributes for all its products, with the list including minimally processed, nutrient-dense, no added sugar, non-GMO, gluten-free, organic, vegan and kosher. 

Raley’s is not the only retailer bending over backward to make life easier for exacting shoppers. On the website of Midwest retailer Hy-Vee, consumers can sort products by dietary considerations including low-fat, fat-free, dairy-free, lactose-free, soy-free, egg-free and wheat-free.

I had not realized there was such demand for this kind of information until a recent breakfast with fellow millennial friends; at least three of the 10 or so people there noted one ingredient or another they were avoiding.

Whatever you think of this development, it is the reality now, and it is not likely going away.

All of that affects center store and other categories more directly than produce, of course, but every company in the supply chain is ultimately serving the same end customers, so it is valuable to understand the services they are expecting — and receiving — elsewhere.

It is a high bar, but from what I’ve seen numerous produce companies have been proactive in their efforts to cater to shoppers.

Along with developing innovative, convenience-oriented products and packaging, grower-shippers are mining Nielsen and IRI data and other sources for insights. They can use that information to inform their own brand and campaign development, and they can share it with customers. I’ve encountered several examples of this in recent weeks.

Adam Cooper, vice president of marketing for Los Angeles-based The Wonderful Co., spoke in late March about the work the company does to decide how to position its products. Sometimes the brainstorm starts with a simple question such as “When are people already eating pistachios?” or “When are people snacking?” 

Market research helped the company identify specific occasions — while watching sports on TV and while working, for example — and it designed campaigns around those activities. Both enjoyed considerable success.

Along the same lines, numerous companies have found sharing category insights to be a big value-add for their customers. You’ve heard the saying “The customer is always right.” Still true, still easier said than done, but perhaps more complex today than ever.

Ashley Nickle is a writer for The Packer. E-mail her at anickle@farmjournal.com.