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Putting the Magic in Marketing

Putting the Magic in Marketing

When we were children, magic was real.

No boundaries or limitations existed within our minds, which cast a special glow over the world and created a realm filled with endless possibilities.

Whether it was acquiring superhero powers like Superman and Superwoman, or the ability to swish and flick our wands to cast spells like the witches and wizards in Harry Potter, we believed there was something special lingering just beyond our reach that could someday be attainable.

However, we grew up and were struck with the realization that magic in this mystical sense may not exist—a startling awareness that took some of the sparkle out of our lives. But Krista Beckstead, Director of Marketing for Mountain View Fruit Sales, and I are here to tell you we humans have a superpower that lies within our imaginations.

Instead of being able to fly or enchant objects, we can conjure images and ideas we share with others through our words, designs, and storytelling. In a way, it’s like telepathy, but we call it creativity, and it can add sparkle to any brand or product.

So, what do we do with this power? Fight crime? Defeat Lord Voldemort? If you talk to Krista, she will say we use it to inspire the masses through marketing. Send out energetic messages about the possibilities of fresh produce through brands, campaigns, and so much more.

“Creativity and standing out in the sea of brands is and will always be a challenge, but it is essential, especially with the younger generation. You have split seconds to grab their attention, so you have to make it striking,” Krista imparts with a gleam in her eye. “Once you have their attention, it will be worth it, as they are a generation of talking about it, sharing, and repurchasing. You can’t go wrong once you make that connection—it’s just bringing that awareness that is the trick, and that is where creativity and innovation can pay off and SHINE!”

Her love of artistic expression began in the world of fashion. After starting in the quality testing lab and being promoted through several positions, Krista traveled the globe for Nordstrom and Cutter & Buck, visiting the factories and setting up the Social Compliance and Quality Assurance programs for them. Through that role, she saw the parallels between produce and fashion in the development and production processes.

In many ways, that thread has traced its way through her career. Now, instead of dressing people, she is dressing fresh fruits and vegetables and finding the proper design, print, and messaging to flatter each product.

“Produce is so similar to fashion. It’s exciting, always changing, and trendy if you market it correctly,” Krista says, hinting slyly at the possibilities in the creative marketing mindset. “Take, for example, the PANTONE® Color of the Year: Peach Fuzz! As the Marketing Director for a stonefruit grower/shipper, there are so many fun marketing initiatives we can do with this trend. Also, ‘Food is Medicine’ is a long-standing concept making a splash again, leading to many exciting opportunities. Just like fashion, where what you wear portrays your personality, what you put into your body shines through to the outside.”

For Krista, moving outside of the traditional is what she loves to do when it comes to marketing. Anything to bring vibrance, individuality, and SPARKLE to a product is welcome, and that starts with packaging, which is a facet of the marketing space that she wants to evolve creatively.

“When I started over 12 years ago, all the packaging was basic and boring. Now everyone is thinking outside the box—literally the boring brown corrugated box—and developing bright, colorful new packaging that tells more of the story and catches shoppers’ attention,” Krista details. “Dress and Identity was my all-time favorite class during college, and I truly believe how you dress can say a lot about your personality without even using words. The same goes for packaging. I always put my consumer hat on and ask myself, ‘What would I buy?’, ‘What would pique my interest enough to purchase or try a product?’, and ‘What would make me repurchase a product?’”

“Creativity and standing out in the sea of brands is and will always be a challenge, but it is essential, especially with the younger generation. You have split seconds to grab their attention, so you have to make it striking.”

Krista Beckstead, Director of Marketing, Mountain View Fruit Sales

The answer to all of these questions falls under the umbrella of differentiation, and the best way to achieve that, in Krista’s mind, is to lean into innovation, ingenuity, and originality. There are some specific trends that the ace believes are worthy of hanging onto in the marketing space as they are still being explored and excavated.

“Sustainability isn’t just a buzzword anymore—it’s here to stay and it’s always evolving. Consumers are more aware of where and how their produce is being grown and how the packaging will affect the environment after they purchase and consume that product,” Krista lays out, providing the first arena in which innovation is critical. “Color is another trend I love and want to see stick around! So many produce brands have embraced the bright, vibrant aspects of the produce department in their packaging, making it pop even more out there in the retail world. We can learn so much from other CPG companies. Produce has such a huge advantage over the CPG companies because it IS good for you—you don’t have to fluff it up!”

Krista’s favorite non-produce company, poppi, a better-for-you soda brand, is a prime example of the last concept. It took a traditional product and added a healthy twist, which its branding plays off of to make it more fun and enticing to the consumer.

“poppi’s product colors are so bright, fun, and exciting you can’t help but grab a can to try,” she explains. “Its messaging is also catchy, with tag lines like ‘Let’s be Friends with Benefits.’ It makes you feel good about drinking something that is normally labeled as unhealthy, rewiring shoppers’ thoughts about the category through imaginative marketing.”

But what is holding our industry back from leaning into this marketing style? As Krista relays, it’s not a lack of imagination.

“Pricing is always the innovation ‘dream killer.’ As we all know, the bottom line back to the grower is always the challenge, and the cost of packaging, marketing initiatives, transportation, etc., all play a part in the final payment back to the growers. But, consumers are willing to pay a premium price for a premium experience when it comes to food; it’s just about getting everyone behind the scenes on the same page!” she tells me. “Also, motivating leadership, growers, and stakeholders to change and think differently is always challenging, especially if it means spending more budget dollars. It’s a struggle to get them to let go of the mentality of ‘It’s worked so well for us for 20 years; why change it now?’”

But that mindset is not stopping this marketing whiz. She is embracing her artistic side and encouraging the rest of the industry to do the same, even if it involves a little bit more nudging and elbow grease than complacency.

“My goal is always to tell the brand and grower story in a fun, unique way. Personalize the product so consumers understand how much blood, sweat, and tears went into getting that piece of produce to your table. Help them understand that it wasn’t manufactured in a factory and will have natural characteristics that aren’t always perfect because it came from nature,” the Marketing Director articulates. “This makes shoppers want it, and they get excited to purchase and eat it. If we’re lucky, we can make the experience so great they talk about it to others, and creative packaging, social media, website content, and more are the tools to do this.”

So, take a step outside of the box…

Then, turn around, reinvent the packaging, and introduce a stand-out marketing campaign that blows consumers away.

In other words, use your magic to add sparkle. You can bet that is what Krista is busy doing. 

Putting the Magic in Marketing