The Broccolilady Blog




  • The China E-Commerce Explosion
    I’ve been tracking the rise of e-commerce fruit sales in China for the last 18 months, through the likes of companies like FruitDay. Yummy77 is one of the new e-commerce fruit sales companies in Shanghai. This delivery was laden with boxes and had two ice-chests for keeping product cold. Very efficient and effective. Having met and heard Loren Zhao speak, it is interesting to hear how he describes his business. He says, “We are a technology company that sells fruit.” And that describes the brave and burgeoning world of e-commerce in China. Having just spent some time in Shanghai, the  

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  • The Art of Producing Food
    I’ve never really had a garden. There was one year I grew a few tomatillo plants but as far as having a large, grow-your-own-food-and-be-self-sustaining garden, I’ve never had one. Not until recently. After 15 years we finally moved to a house where the section is truly massive (compared to the previous), and with a raised garden box. So this year, my inaugural garden year, I planted it with the basics. With huge pride I’ve tended it, plucked caterpillars and watched the plants flower and fruit. For someone with degrees in agribusiness and a career marketing fruit and veg, I am  

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  • Packaging Matters
    Companies don’t care about their packaging and mostly when I ask a grower about it, they reply variably with “It’s not an issue for us” or “We’re happy with our current packaging – it’s working fine.” And they’re half right, packaging itself is neither the problem nor the solution. But the ability to utilize every means at your disposal to sell more produce for more money is. People don’t buy fruits or vegetables because of a brand name or what variety it is. They buy it for what it does for them. This means it’s time to stop treating your  

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  • Hacks and Nasties
    The Changing Language of Fresh Produce Marketing How many of you have had an encounter with either a hack or nasties? Sounds like something to be wary of when in actuality, these are both just new marketing terms involving foods. Hack has emerged as a word describing a short cut in recent years. If you Google the word ‘fruit hacks’, you get over 1.5 million hits. Some of the more popular sites are, “21 Fruit Hacks to Make Your Life Easier” or “10 Best Fruit Cutting Hacks Because Life is Hard.” So a fruit hack is all about making eating  

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  • A US President, Broccoli and Where The Produce Revolution Began
    The biggest marketing coup of my career came just after I became Marketing Manager at Apio Produce Sales… it involved broccoli and a President. President George Bush Sr. banned broccoli from Air Force One, saying he’d hated it since boyhood. Given Apio was big into broccoli I had to do something, so I organized a ten ton “protest”. Our growers donated the broccoli and we trucked 10 tons of it to the White House. The global media ate it up. Would you believe it was the first press release I’d ever written? Besides generating over $150 million dollars in free  

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  • How Homemade Truffles Link To Fresh Produce Value Growth
    A girlfriend of mine recently started a business making homemade truffles. These little chocolate treats are amazing – creamy, flavourful and very hard to stop at one. She decided to sell them at a local farmers market and we recently spent time discussing her pricing strategy. She currently sells her truffles for $1 each. So I asked her, how much does the competition sell truffles for? She advised they sell for $2 to $2.50 each. So I probed further about how she set her price and she advised she worked from the cost of production up to arrive at a  

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  • Be Wary of Stagnation
      Okay – I have a question for the men out there, but it comes with a warning. I am about to make a huge generalisation – so prepare yourself. Take a deep breath. Do not be offended. My question is – what is it with men and boards and senior management teams dominated by men that makes them so resistant to change?  Let me explain.  My consulting work is moving me more into strategy. I have a knack for seeing untapped opportunities within a company and helping them to change. As part of doing this work, I use an  

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  • Produce Stickers That Sell
    I often find growers are a bit ho-hum about their packaging. In particular, they seem very ho-hum about their PLU type stickers. Often their thinking is…how can a sticker make a difference? To see a sticker as a marketing tool, you’ve got to change your thinking. Any message that goes on your fresh produce is a sales and marketing tool. It costs you money, so therefore it needs to work hard to help drive your sales. I am always on the hunt for great stickers, so I wanted to share this avocado sticker. Using A Sticker To Educate In much  

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  • 5 Reasons Why Retail Branding Limits Growth
    I am currently in South Africa and spent much of the day yesterday visiting different retail stores. With fresh produce branding, packaging and on-pack communication being a passion of mine, I always love to get out to stores and have a look. In South Africa, a high percentage of fresh produce is retail branded. Since I was touring with other passionate produce people, this led to some interesting discussion about the pros/cons of retail branded produce. Never one to be shy in my opinion, in my mind, there are five reasons why I don’t like 100% retail branded produce departments.  

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  • Snail Secretions Cream Provides Produce Packaging Insight
    I’ve spent the last week in Asia. As my goal there was to come up with some new category strategy concepts for a client, I was in full ‘observation’ mode. By that I mean, I was looking and watching and analysing and absorbing everything I could to get insights into cultures that are very different from my own. Magazine Ads Provide Insights You Can Use In Your Packaging Along with store visits and observing packaging and what’s on the shelf, I also get a feel for the culture and what’s important to consumers by looking through magazines. One of the  

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  • Great Mango Pack Steals My Heart
    I love it when I come across a great fresh produce pack. It thrills me to my toes to see effective on-pack marketing in action. I was recently in Singapore doing some retail strategy work for a client and I stumbled across this fantastic Pakistan mango pack. What makes it so good? Lots of things. First, it educates shoppers on mango ripeness. I believe as produce growers and marketers we have a duty to educate shoppers so they can be successful with our products. This pack, through using the simple colour guide for ripeness, educates shoppers exceptionally well. Second it  

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  • What Does A Man, A Chook and a Sticker Have To Do With Fresh Produce Branding?
    That is a great question. I know I go on and on ad nauseam about niche marketing – about picking a target audience and then talking specifically to them. If you are an avid reader of this Packaging Matters blog, you will know I think one size fits all marketing is old school…passé’, yet it is the norm in fresh produce. One could potentially argue it was the norm in poultry as well…until…the chicken marketers in NZ set out to reinvent chicken…for men. Take a look at this photo. It is simply a fresh whole chicken (chook down under) but  

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  • Russian Dolls and a Single Minded Purpose
      Often in marketing, you will hear people talk about the need to have a ‘single minded purpose.’ Basically, the meaning is know who your audience is…and know what you want to say to them. These days, with consumers expecting more and more customisation, the more you can tailor your product and your message to a niche market, the more value you can get. At least, that’s the theory anyway. The More You Niche, The More You Drive Value Growth I wrote about this a few blogs back when I covered the difference in health messages between Vital Vegetables and  

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  • Confusion or Clarity – A Sticker Can Make All The Difference
    I’ve just returned from a retail conference/trade show. These events are always fruitful in terms of seeing new products and learning about new fresh initiatives. One of the new products that caught my eye was a beautiful new melon. On the outside, it looks more like a vegetable. It has a rough-ish, marrow like outer skin with the deeper, darker colouring of a vegetable. Yet inside, it is not a vegetable at all. It has sweet, delicate, honeydew like flesh. It is light and beautiful to eat. From a marketing point of view, it’s one of those products you want  

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  • The Difference Between Average and Excellence
    I was recently working with my son on a science project. I have realised over the past year, his natural tendency (and I think this is true for most 11 year old boys), is that ‘average’ is good enough. Unfortunately, it is not good enough in my household! The challenge however, was not to assert my opinion, but to get him to see the implications of ‘average’, decide if he was happy doing average work and then try and guide him towards excellence. I am not one of those mums that do the science project for their child – but  

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  • Packaging Is The Final 10 Seconds
    I read a great article the other day on packaging. It described it as the final 10 seconds of the sale. All the work done to get the customer in store and looking for your product goes to waste if your packaging turns them off…or fails to capture their attention. I love the analogy of packaging being the final 10 seconds. This directly relates to a conversation I had with a grower the other day. Once again, they were advertising their product in mainstream media (read EXPENSIVE) but their packaging was a complete turn-off from a shopper point of view.  

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  • Using Trends to Future Proof Your Fresh Produce Brand and Pack
    I love researching and monitoring food trends. When you’ve been doing it for several years, you can actually see trends evolve, drive product development and penetrate the marketplace. One of the important strategies I use in my work with clients is to research and evaluate current trends to see how I can apply them to my clients’ businesses. Being up-to-speed with trends and making them part of your business culture is one way to future proof your business and your on-pack message. Google the words “food trends” and you will get thousands of hits. I am a fan of The  

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  • Sometimes Branding Is Simple
    It’s is interesting to read about branding. There are lots of people who make it sound like branding is an expensive and complicated process. There is no doubt, if you are a big corporate with lots of brands in lots of countries, I am sure it is complicated and expensive. Fresh Produce Branding Does Not Have To Be Complicated But for the average produce company, I don’t think branding has to be that complicated at all. Take a look at this gum pack I just bought. I love it – vitamin gum. Any uncertainty at all what’s in the pack?  

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  • Can Packaging Solve The Squeeze?
    I was approached by a group of growers the other day about a branding project. They were torn. They had a product that was selling okay in a few stores and not so well in others. They wanted to explore a packaging solution, but at the same time, they weren’t convinced it would make a difference to their sales. They were also considering using traditional media, radio advertising, but also felt uncertain it would make a difference to their sales. Then they talked about ‘the squeeze.’ Feeling ‘The Squeeze’ On the production side, they were constantly faced with increased input  

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  • Using Trends to Influence Your On-Pack Message
    I am currently working on a speech I am going to deliver at the PMA’s fresh produce packaging conference in South Africa. While my core subject is getting growers, packers and marketers to think about their packaging differently, I always try to bring new ideas and insights to every speech I deliver. One place where I find new packaging ideas and case studies for my speaking is I study food and health trends that are topical in any given year. Simply Google “food trends” and you will get a million plus hits taking you to a range of sites telling  

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  • 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  

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  • The Role of Packaging In Compounding Your Sales
    I find many growers and marketers feel like passive bystanders when it comes to increasing their produce sales. Once the product is grown, packed and shipped into a retail channel, it becomes hard to influence the sales outcome. I realise growers contribute to marketing and retailers put products on promotion, but long term sales increases seem illusive. This is where packaging has a significant role to play, especially when combined with a compounding sales strategy. Compounding Sales Is Easier Than You Think I once attended a marketing seminar and was taught the compounding sales formula. To increase your sales, you  

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  • Re-Stating the Obvious On Your Fresh Produce Packaging Costs You Dollars
    Packaging communication optimisation. It’s a mouthful, but it’s where fresh produce packaging is trending in today’s competitive retail environment. So what is it and what does it mean? Packaging communication optimisation is about putting a message on your produce packaging that reflects what shoppers want to buy. Re-Stating The Obvious Costs You Dollars In produce, it is common for value-added sweet corn to be sold in packs like the one shown in the photo. The grower likes this pack because ‘value’ has been added and the pack should earn a higher return. The retailer likes this pack because it’s a  

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  • 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  

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  • It’s What’s On The Inside That Counts
    I had a very interesting conversation with a produce buyer recently. We were talking about product confidence. The buyer stated that of all the hundreds of produce items he purchased throughout the year, there was only a handful of products he purchased he felt 100% confident in putting his stores’ name to. “Only a few?” I asked. “Only a few,” he replied. “Day to day, week to week, month to month and year to year, there are only a few products I buy I feel I could stand behind and guarantee 100%, all of the time.” He went on to  

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  • The Art of Marketing Food
    Have you ever thought about what separates fresh produce marketing from the marketing of other grocery items? Aside from the obvious differences like perishability, varietal variation and seasonality, there is a real gap that exists in how we manifest the marketing, branding and packaging of produce compared to how the grocery industry markets, brands and packages their FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) items. Take Away Compelling Packaging…And What Is Left? Imagine walking into a supermarket and noticing that none of the grocery products had any marketing messages on their packaging. For example, imagine… In the cereal aisle, rather than saying Cocoa Puffs with  

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  • Fruit and Vegetable Packaging Needs to Loosen Up and Have a Little Fun
    One point I make every now and then in the magazine columns I write is tell produce growers and marketers to, “loosen up and have a little fun.” Now, I don’t mean from a life philosophy point of view, but from a packaging and branding point of view. Let me explain.  Fresh Produce Is Facing the Most Diverse Buyer Demographics in History As fresh produce growers and marketers, today we are facing the most diverse buyer demographics in history. We have aging Baby Boomers shopping alongside plugged in Gen-Y’s, we have men shopping beside consumers with smart phones scanning QR  

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  • What’s The Cost of a Bad Apple
    A few years ago, I spoke at a national retail grocery conference. My presentation was titled, Revolutionising The Produce Shopping Experience – What Does a Bad Apple Cost Your Business?  It raised questions about how we measure and evaluate a produce department’s success. Given the fantastic audience feedback, I realised this topic hit a nerve. Do KPI’s Effectively Measure a Produce Department’s Success? Most produce department’s measure their success using key numeric criteria: percent of store share, gross profit, percent wage cost, percent waste, etc. It is uncommon to find anything other than numbers as success measurement tools. What if  

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  • Would A Produce Department Survive A Reality Show Vote?
    I am not a big watcher of reality television. But on the odd occasion, I do sit down and have a look. What I like is the black and whiteness of ‘the vote.’ Someone either stays…or they get voted off. There is no ambiguity; the audience has spoken! Translating this to fresh produce, I am curious to know if most fresh produce departments would survive the audience voting process if shoppers could vote in that way. Are Fresh Produce Departments Really Customer Focused? I am pondering all this based on a conversation with a produce marketer the other day. He  

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  • Branding Produce or What’s In A Name
    It is always interesting to track fresh produce brand conversations online. As a shopper driven marketer, I like the insight it gives into the shopper mindset. I recently came across this post on www.openideo.com. Branding Vegetables! There is huge opportunity in the vegetable category for branding. Most fruits and vegetables are sold without brand names. A few exceptions are Chiquita and Dole. When a person thinks of ‘banana’ they probably think if ‘Chiquita’, a brand almost synonymous with the fruit. But why is that not the case for apples? We know types of apples – Gala, Fuji, Granny Smith –  

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  • How To Design A Brand
    Hot off the press, the following column has just appeared in Produce Plus Magazine’s Winter 2013 issue. The task was to write a column on effective branding in under 500 words. Must admit – I think I achieved it quite nicely. Branding is a passion of mine – particularly produce brands that talk to the consumer. For most of fresh produce, this area is untapped. Tiz why I am on a one-woman mission to reach out to growers and help them with their branding and packaging communication strategy. Most every produce company pays hugely for packaging – but often then  

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  • Lisa Cork Gives A Fresh Perspective on Produce Packaging – Mammoth Supply Co Yoghurt
    Lisa Cork’s packaging review VLOG gives you free tips on how to make your packaging more effective…and impactful. This review:

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  • Lisa Cork Gives A Fresh Perspective on Produce Packaging – Eggplant
    Lisa Cork’s packaging review VLOG gives you free tips on how to make your packaging more effective…and impactful. This review:

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  • Lisa Cork Gives A Fresh Perspective on Produce Packaging – Starbust Pumelo
    Lisa Cork’s packaging review VLOG gives you free tips on how to make your packaging more effective…and impactful. This review:

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  • Lisa Cork Gives a Fresh Perspective on Produce Packaging – Bluebird Local Harvest Potato Chips
    Lisa Cork’s packaging review VLOG gives you free tips on how to make your packaging more effective…and impactful. This review:

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  • Lisa Cork Gives A Fresh Perspective on Produce Packaging — Skinny Water
    Lisa Cork’s packaging review VLOG gives you free tips on how to make your packaging more effective…and impactful. <br

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  • Lisa Cork Gives A Fresh Perspective on Produce Packaging — Cara Cara Navel Orange Stickers
    Lisa Cork’s packaging review VLOG gives you free tips on how to make your packaging more effective…and impactful. <br

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  • In Packaging, The Devil Is In The Details
    I read an interesting stream from my Fresh Produce Google Group recently about ASDA adopting an innovative traffic light colour coding system for their avocados. You can read the original article here: http://ljxxx.ajhvbsejbo.cjdp.cjvl.nl4.gsr.awhoer.net/lifeandstyle/2012/jul/16/supermarket-colour-coding-buying-avocados. The article describes how a green box will be used for lovely, brown ripe Hass avocados that are ready to eat, an orange box will be used for avocados a few days away from being ripe and a pink box will be used for not ripe avocados. I applaud this initiative to colour code because let’s face it, avocado ripeness is a mystery to most shoppers. However,  

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  • Jina’s Edible Gems: Easy and Delicious Oven Roasted Tomatoes
    See how easy it is to make delicious oven roasted tomatoes. They are a perfect partner to Borlotti beans. Try them as part of a bruschetta or a quick pasta sauce.

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  • Jina’s Edible Gems: The Great Borlotti Bean Cook Off
    Comparing the differences between fresh Edible Gems Borlotti beans vs dried or canned beans. You will be shocked.

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  • Jina’s Edible Gems: Roasted Eggplant
    Learn how to roast and freeze eggplant. Perfect for using in my Borlotti Bean, Avocado and Eggplant Dip. Jina

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  • 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.  

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  • The Elephant In The Room and Branding Fresh Produce
    I recently spoke at the PMA Australia-New Zealand Conference in Brisbane. If you have never been to a PMA event, you are missing out. Combine great networking with new ideas and you get enough ‘oomph’ to keep you going all year! But I digress… I get a huge thrill speaking at events like the PMA. I know most people don’t like to speak publicly, but I love it. The chance to throw out new ideas and test cutting edge subjects for market feedback is beyond compare. However, I do hate making mistakes when I speak. I want to fess up  

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  • Fresh Produce Battle For Share of Stomach
    Fresh Produce Marketing. Providing Savvy Strategies, Persuasive Packaging and Bold Brands for the Fresh Produce Industry

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  • Flawed Assumptions
    In the fruit and vegetable world, we rely on the belief we can change or influence consumer behaviour. For example, we believe we can get consumers to eat more of Fruit A if we design a clever ad campaign. We believe we can get consumers to increase their purchase frequency of Vegetable B if we get the quality and size right. We believe we can get them to eat more of Produce Brand C if we redesign the logo to incorporate more colours and create a fresher feeling. What if we are wrong? What if our assumptions are flawed? What  

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  • Kids Yogurt Provides Ideas for Marketing Fresh Produce to Children
    My 24 May packaging tweet showed the back nutrition panel of a product called Vaalia kids vanilla yoghurt. This pack does a fantastic job of marketing its nutritional benefits in an easy, simple and ‘helpful friend’ tone. While it targets kids, it does a great job of talking to parents who are the purchase decision makers. Here is what I liked about their on-pack messaging. On the front, they’ve done several things really well. • There is a focus on Omega3 but with the link being the kid benefit of “for brain function and concentration.” Omega3 is big right now  

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  • Retail Fresh Produce Strategy and the Need to Have a Plan
    Tar and feather me for the following admission, but I am an ABBA fan from way back. As a result, one of my favourite movies is Mamma Mia. There is one scene in the movie where Meryl Streep’s character says, “Plan. What plan? Goodness knows I have no plan.” I can’t help but feel there is a similarity between that line and retail fresh produce strategy. I don’t mean to be critical of retail. I’ve never been a produce buyer or head of produce, so I am sure there are multiple challenges I am blissfully unaware of. However, one of  

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  • A Seriously Good Product Name
    If you are a regular follower of this “Persuasive Packaging. Bold Brands.” blog, you will know I am big on learning from grocery. I normally talk about what fresh produce and produce marketers can learn from cereal packaging and branding, but running a close second has got to be the water category. There is some very clever brand work and on-pack messaging being done in energy water. A few weeks ago, I wrote about the water, “function: Urban Detox”, their honed-in target marketing and their very effective on-pack messages. This week, I am writing about…wait for it…“Skinny Water”. In terms  

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  • 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  

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  • Using ‘Provenance’ to Create a Point of Difference
    One of most cost-effective ways to monitor food trends is to observe what packaged food companies are doing. These companies are usually big, have budgets equal to the GNP of a small African nation and they invest in research. Chances are if a packaged food company is featuring a message theme on their packaging – this is a trend you should be paying attention to. This week, I am loving Wattie’s (New Zealand) “Pick of the Crop” labelling on their canned fruits and vegetables. There are three things we can learn from their packaging. 1. Notice the frequency and prominence  

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