Produce Positioning and the Impact on Packaging

Let’s talk about positioning produce. I don’t mean the physical interpretation of positioning, as in where to put it, but the marketing interpretation of positioning, as in what does a product own in the mind-set of the shopper. You see, I believe most fresh produce items have a unique ‘position’ in retail.

Let me tell you what got me on to this thought process. I was in Australia a while back meeting with some avocado growers and we were doing store visits. Shepherd avocados were just in season. We visited two retail stores (within the same banner) and these stores had their Shepherd avocados on a hot promotional price of A$.98 each.

I talked to both produce managers (as you do) and they were both amazed they had their avocados at such a hot price. One of the guys noted they had been $1.79 the previous week, so both were surprised they had avocados this cheap.

What caught my interest was people were only buying one avocado. Given the ‘hot’ price, for the 15 minutes I stood observing shoppers I noticed people were still only buying one avocado.

Now I realise 15 minutes does not qualify as a nationwide, qualitative study of avocado purchasing habits among Australian consumers, but c’mon, if it were such a hot price, at least 1-2 shoppers would have bought more than one.

This scenario makes me wonder if the price of A$.98 was too low. The whole goal of reducing price and margins is to sell volume. If shoppers are only buying one avocado, is the strategy working?

Which brings me to my point.

  • I believe individual produce items have unique positioning points based on consumer acceptance, consumer usage, shelf space, price, location in-store, etc.
  • I believe there is an opportunity to position and price products strategically enabling increased produce department and grower revenues.
  • If you have a sense of a product’s position, then your packaging should reflect this and incorporate part of its positioning message on pack.

If we were in packaged foods, the opportunity to position a product and understand how subtle changes in packaging, placement and pricing effect sales is easier to track. Tools like scan data and other purchasing research enable all these micro details to be tracked.

In produce, this type of data is only just starting to be utilised. While expensive, it is important to understand who is buying a product and data helps suppliers better understand a product’s position.

Once you understand who is buying and why, then you are a big step towards knowing how best to position the product, both on shelf…and on pack.