Can A Sticker Convey A Message?



I’m passionate about packaging. Whether sticker, bag, punnet or pack, I believe any produce package can be optimised to better reach out to the consumer and help drive sales. But I want to focus on PLU stickers for a moment.

PLU stickers have limited space. I get that. However, the number of stickers I see that waste the opportunity to have some kind of consumer message on them staggers me.

Take the mandarin stickers in this photo. While they tell me the variety, this knowledge does not help if I don’t know what the key characteristics of a variety are. For example, I would think some mandarin consumers want mandarins that are sweet, seedless and easy to peel. If you are marketing a mandarin with one or several of these characteristics, I think it is really important to tell consumers the ‘buyer benefit’…and you tell it on the fruit. You can’t always rely on point of sale signage to tell your story for you.

I can hear your objections already. “But Lisa,” I hear you say, “My mandarins have seeds. Why would I put that on the sticker?” You put it on the sticker because it is the shoppers right to choose whether she wants to buy a mandarin with seeds or not. Why would you deny her that choice? Why would you choose to surprise a shopper (and potentially risk angering her) because you failed to advise her of a key product characteristic?

And remember, marketing is all about selling the benefit. So if your mandarin is really sweet but has a few tiny seeds, you word your sticker accordingly: “Super sweet with a few tiny seeds.” Depending on the shoppers’ needs, she can then weigh up whether she is willing to trade sweetness for seeds. It should be her choice…it is her money.

The other argument I also hear is, “But Lisa, everyone knows that a Murcott has seeds.” Really? I don’t know if a Murcott has seeds and I am in the produce business! The fact is, today’s consumers are very different than consumers ten years ago. For one thing, we are dealing with more demographic diversity now than we likely ever have in the past. Millennials, Gen Y, Gen X, Boomers. They all bring very different knowledge and awareness of fruit to the table.

Yes, the Baby Boomers who grew up with a mandarin tree in the back garden may inherently understand that a Murcott has seeds. But what about the Millennials who grew up in cities with parents who’ve never seen a mandarin tree? How would they know the fruit’s characteristics?

I know space on a sticker is limited. However, rather than put just the PLU code or a farm name or a variety name, why not try and see if you can incorporate some product descriptor? In the battle for share of stomach, you never know, it could be the little bits of information that make a lot of difference.