( Photo courtesy Produce Marketing Association )

A healthy lifestyle has always been important and has never been so trendy. Fitbit reported 25 million active users in 2017, and in 2019 health insurers are looking to take advantage of the devices as a business strategy to lower overall costs. People are not only tracking their movements, they’re tracking their sleep, their heartrate, and the food they eat. 

While the influx of these new tools has changed the conversation about how we pursue a healthy life, one thing has remained true: eating more fruits and vegetables is the simplest thing any person can do to ensure a robust, vibrant and healthy life. 

Despite knowing it’s the healthiest choice, consumers worldwide often struggle to eat the suggested amount of fruits and vegetables each day.

We need to understand what drives people to eat the food they do and use this information to better market produce to meet those needs. This is what prompted the research with Sentient Decision Science that is central to the session I’ll be participating in at South by Southwest (SXSW) this year in Austin, Texas. 

SXSW is a yearly gathering of creative professionals from all corners of culture and innovation. With education tracks centered on every topic from food, tech and health to marketing, design, and the future workplace, SXSW is the perfect venue to share our insight into how consumers make decisions about what they eat. 

Understanding what influences consumer decisions will be especially critical for produce marketers to position their product to meet consumers where they are. It is about fulfilling the rational need, but it’s also about understanding that the emotional connection plays a strong influence at the point of decision. 

If our presence at SXSW shows us anything, it is that we are relevant. We are more than an industry of commodities: we are an industry that matters to everyone, everywhere. That gives us the opportunity to think about and position produce as the best product available to have a healthy and vibrant life. 

We are very lucky to have a competitive advantage that is good for business, and good for the consumer and the world. Health is our competitive advantage and we must never relinquish that, but we must challenge ourselves to go broader. 

Adam Cooper from The Wonderful Co. will speak to how it’s reframed and redefined its brand to expand its connections with consumers, but this isn’t just an idea reserved for the largest, big-budget companies. 

Any company — B2B or B2C — can position itself as more than just a healthy commodity. It starts with considering marketing as a strategy and not just a tactic. The strategy gives a path beyond health to tell your story in a way that helps consumers connect and choose your product for their best healthy, vibrant life. 

Lauren M. Scott is chief marketing officer for the Newark, Del.-based Produce Marketing Association.

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