In Produce Packaging, Does Size Matter?

This column, we are going to take a look at one of my favourite packaging communication tools – the sticker.

This little beauty has to be one of the most underutilised tools in a produce marketer’s arsenal. I love stickers because a good one, in a market crowded with bad ones, can get you cut through and drive incremental sales.

How many of you currently use PLU stickers?

For those of you that ship your produce internationally, I realise the world of stickers has changed significantly in the past few years. The new bar code style of sticker definitely limits key messages on the sticker as so much of the limited space is now consumer by the barcode. However, in lots of markets where fruit is sold domestically, I still see PLU stickers, so I will focus on these.

Even Small Stickers Can Communicate Big Messages

When I talk to people about their ‘on-pack’ message, most don’t feel their PLU stickers have communication value.

“They are too small to communicate on,” say some. “I use my sticker to promote my brand,” say others. My question – is a sticker any different than any other on-pack communication medium?

I think even small PLU stickers can pack a powerful punch when carefully designed and executed with the shopper in mind.

Take a look at the following examples:

This is a good example of a small sticker working hard to make a sale.

I came across this lovely plum recently in a greengrocer. There were a range of coloured plums to choose from – pluots, red plums and purple plums.

While I know my fruit, I am not a plum variety expert. So I was motivated to purchase the lovely red plums simply because the sticker on the fruit told me something about what to expect with the words, “Super Sweet.” Simple but effective and a sale was gained simply because this plum sold itself to me via the words on the sticker.





Images can speak volumes, in the case of the Heart Tick for health.

Another sticker initiative I have always respected was avocados using the Heart Foundation Tick of Approval. Many years ago, when avocados were maligned and not consumed because they were perceived to be high in fat and cholesterol, a Heart Foundation sticker on the fruit spoke volumes about their healthfulness, without having to use many words at all. This remains one of my favourite examples of how small little stickers can be a powerful marketing tool.

Bigger Stickers Can Be An Inexpensive Marketing Tool

What about bigger stickers? Again, I think stickers of any size are fantastic and an underutilised medium. In my work with clients, we often try to increase sticker size in order to better communicate with shoppers.

In the following examples, take a look at how some Australian marketers are using bigger stickers as marketing tools.

This sticker here was on an Australian pineapple. What I like about the sticker is the offer of a pineapple corer. Pineapples don’t tend to have high consumer penetration. A pineapple is a fruit bought by dedicated fruit eaters. As a result, you are marketing to a small group of consumers.

A great example of using a large sticker to drive increased sales.

One way to grow sales within a small audience base is to encourage them to purchase the fruit more often. Pineapples can be challenging to core, so the offer of an easy to use, simple corer has the added benefit of making the fruit easier, which makes it more attractive to new buyers and can encourage existing buyers to buy more. This is a great example of how to use a sticker effectively.

My final example is from some fruit I saw on the market floor in Perth. While I really like the attempt made by this grower to use a larger sticker to create interest in the fruit, I think it could have been done better.

Dragon fruit is not a common fruit purchase. It is one of those fruits when you see it, you go, “Wow, what is that? What do you do with it? What’s it taste like?” They often sell for $4-$5 each, so they are a high risk purchase if you don’t know what to do with them.

Another big sticker example, but this one could have been more focussed on consumer benefits.

These are prime questions to answer, in some way, on a sticker. While I appreciate this grower has done a great job promoting himself and his farm, this message does nothing to address the shoppers need to know more about the fruit. The sticker is big enough for a lot of consumer focussed key messages, but it missed the mark and in my opinion is a missed opportunity.

Given opportunities to market to consumers directly are often limited by retail policy, stickers, done smartly, are a great way to reach consumers with your own key message.