One of the largest aspects of helping to market the produce industry is offering support and connection, a job which takes many forms and creative avenues. In talking to the decision makers buying and selling fresh produce, I've received positive feedback I think could benefit all sides of our industry. Now, here we are in the fourth installation of a series focused on helping both suppliers and buyers be more successful at retail, and the first revisit.
Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to sit down with my longtime colleague, food and lifestyle expert Chadwick Boyd, where he provided insights to leverage trends, boost sales, and build consumer interest and affinity. Here, we dive deeper.
Chadwick Boyd: Understanding pop culture informs where and how to connect with audiences, and helps brands stay relevant. By monitoring media, especially social media, fresh produce brands can find new, playful ways to reach and connect with audiences—and augment sales. Influencer marketing has taken advantage of this in a great way. Through the lenses of trusted experts online who already have highly engaged audiences and are currently shaping pop culture themselves, fresh brands can tap into consumers’ mindsets and gain greater reach and trust. In a post-pandemic world where levity, fun, and joy are craved by consumers more than ever, this is an easy way to stay top of mind with consumers and show real impact through data to desired retailers.
CB: Martha Stewart is a great example. She is 82 years old and manages to stay current and enterprising. Her recent “Sports Illustrated” cover was a media bombshell that had a global impact. Overnight, she became the topic of conversation everywhere, breaking open market opportunities with older audiences and making “older” cool among Millennials and Gen Z. “Barbie” is another example. A longtime, well-established brand that has created cultural challenges and shifts in previous decades managed to catapult to the top in 2023, uniting Boomers, GenX, Millennials, and Gen Z, and creating chasms for brands in all categories—from Airbnb and Cold Stone Creamery to Whole Foods Market—to find new relevancy and boosted sales.
CB: Martha Stewart and Barbie are global brands, yet the way they changed conversation, mindset, and buzz in such a short time created new opportunities for all brands, including produce. Staying current with pop culture and trends through monitoring and participating in social media allows produce marketers to identify opportunities for pivots, partnerships, and new product merchandising strategies with retailers. It certainly keeps you on your toes, but it helps marketing teams stay fresh and be smart to hit their annual sales goals.
CB: We are post-pandemic. After a few years of isolation and uncertainty, consumers are craving connection, comfort, and conviviality, which translates into sales opportunities. Just look at the meteoric success of Beyoncé’s and Taylor Swift’s concert tours. Late last year, the two of them declared, “Let’s dance,” and the whole world has seemingly shown up in 2023 to do just that—to the tune of about $3 billion in estimated sales. It’s not just to pop stars’ benefit, though; fresh produce marketers can and should take advantage of these consumer desires and build their marketing efforts around them. Create a spirit of authenticity in your ads and messaging. Find inspiration on TikTok. Be real, relatable, and have some fun.
CB: I have three recommendations for produce brands looking to drive sales.
Every moment is now a shoppable moment.
This is true no matter where consumers are—at work, watching television, in the carpool lane, or in the kitchen—thanks to mobile devices and phone-friendly QR codes. If a product solves a problem and brings delight, they will immediately search online, read reviews or watch demos, and click “buy.”
Offer smart, easily-identifiable, thoughtful packaging.
We live in a visually forward time thanks to the influence of Apple, Instagram, and TikTok. Whether it is on a store shelf, a website, or scrolling through our phone feeds, what we see needs to captivate our attention, speak to us directly, and cause us to take a few seconds to want to learn more. Frieda’s Branded Produce and its new rebrand does this exceptionally well. The new packaging employs a bold yet simple design aesthetic and a clever naming strategy that helps consumers understand how seemingly unusual fruits and vegetables bring delight into consumers’ lives. The company’s social feeds extend that feeling and personality.
Social media is an equitable channel, along with television and digital.
Social media is a series of powerful channels on sophisticated platforms where consumers gather in communities to share common interests, learn from each other, and improve their lives. It is rich in data, too. Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and more all show real-time insights on audience behaviors and tastes, allowing marketers to quickly reach their intended audiences or learn more about consumer preferences and desires to improve or shift their products. LinkedIn, in particular, is a thriving community for B2B messaging in addition to the advantages other platforms offer. A secret weapon with great potential for most companies and brands, best practices for how to use LinkedIn effectively can differ from more B2C-minded social channels, with a strong lean on B2B networking and sales conversations.
Chadwick’s parting message to me is that there is so much to gain from prioritizing pop culture as a means to strengthen relationships with retailers and regulate engagement with consumers. With the world constantly changing in 24-hour cycles, one of the greatest ways to maintain a strategic advantage is to put greater value in what is being shown to us directly on our devices.