Airplane Chat Reveals Fresh Produce Packaging Insight

I love meeting people on airplanes. The conversation is always diverse and interesting. On a flight to Melbourne recently, I sat next to a very engaging business woman and we had a great conversation about produce packaging. Even though I consider my packaging thinking cutting edge, I am always open to someone else’s thoughts and opinions.

Melissa and I got to talking about cereal marketing (my favourite subject!) and how cereal companies optimise every square millimetre of their packaging with targeted, “buy me” messages that appeal to segmented groups of consumers.

We compared this to the fresh produce category, where as an industry we fail to often:

  1. Segment our offer to specific target markets
  2. Optimise our on-pack message to appeal to the needs of our target audience

Take strawberries for example. Most strawberry punnets do not have “buy me” messaging. Typically what they do have on the punnet is the word “strawberries”, the grower or farm name and then the legal requirements like weight, PLU code, country of origin, etc.

I asked Melissa what was important to her regarding strawberries and she said, “I wish they would tell me the story about production and how they are grown.” Drilling down into this a bit further, she commented she was specifically interested in strawberries that were “spray free.” Yet she said she very seldom saw this kind of language on the pack (even on organic packs).

Her comment was a real eye opener for me, but it confirmed a core marketing premise. On-pack messages, whether for cereal or strawberries, must resonate with the buyer. There is no benefit in putting “high in Vitamin C” on a strawberry punnet if the nutrition message is not important to strawberry buyers.

As Melissa noted, “They are strawberries. I already know they are good for me. Don’t tell me that on the pack. Instead, tell me they are ‘spray free’ or ‘picked fresh daily’. This has meaning and value from my point of view and would prompt me to buy.”

Segmentation is critical for creating successful on-pack messages. The more you can breakdown a commodity fresh fruit or vegetable into multiple segments based on criteria like size, shape, variety – the more you can target those segments to specific customer needs and the more effective story you can tell on the pack.

Sometimes telling a story simply requires you to take one step back. Case in point, Melissa and I also talked about raspberries. One of the things she really liked about raspberries was that today, most punnets had the ‘long life pad’ at the bottom. “I prefer to buy those raspberries because they last longer.”

Is the pad at the bottom of the punnet a long life pad? I don’t think it is (please correct me if I am wrong), but what a great idea for a story to tell on the pack! Picture this in the corner of the raspberry punnet: “Long life pad included to extend our fresh picked goodness.”

This goes to show sometimes the best on-pack message comes from customer comments. Make sure you have a system for harnessing customer feedback and using it for on-pack message ideas.

Is your on-pack message optimised? If not, take advantage of the two ideas above to create a more customer focussed, “buy me” message.

  1. Create a segmented product offer then talk specifically to each segmented group of consumers. Remember one of my favourite slogans from Gorilla Marketing, “Talk to someone and say something.”
  2. Stand back and look for the obvious. Can you create a story around something you do that adds value to the product?

Your Turn:

What stories do you tell on your packaging? How did you create the story? Send your comments and photo to and we will share your story in an upcoming blog.