Changing consumer shopping behavior can be tricky, but the pandemic has definitely changed where people buy and access fresh produce, and which production companies know how to leverage their strong brand identity in this world by mutation can reap huge benefits.
“Online shopping for fresh items has been more widely exposed during COVID-19 to a segment of consumers who might otherwise have been slow adopters,” said Tom Thompson, chief revenue officer of Revol Greens, greenhouse lettuce specialist based in Owatonna, Minnesota. “There is also a natural growth within the online channel as home delivery options become more sophisticated, resulting in a better delivery experience.”
A big reason Americans are much more comfortable shopping for produce and other fresh produce online is their trust in their in-store shoppers, Thompson said. Increasingly, these buyers, he says, know when a salad is short or when an avocado is not at the right level of ripeness.
Historically, products have been more difficult to market digitally than typical consumer packaged goods because each fruit and vegetable is a unique piece that shoppers often want to review first, said Bil Goldfield, director of corporate communications for Dole. Food Co, based in Charlotte, North Carolina.
But with the onset of Covid and the continued popularity of ready-to-eat products like packaged salad kits and meal starter kits, consumers have proven to be much more likely to put aside reservations and buy fruit. and fresh vegetables online.
Dole uses both Instacart and retailer-specific e-commerce sites to sell its fresh fruits and vegetables online and has seen steady growth from these platforms since the pandemic, particularly in the area of new products, Goldfield said.
Ease the way
Brand familiarity can play a big role in smoothing this transition from brick-and-mortar to digital, Goldfield said.
“Most fruits and vegetables have broad brand awareness across all shopper demographics, which reduces shopper anxiety about trial purchases,” Goldfield said. “Online consumers are experienced and know what they’re getting. The desire for fresh produce, immune-boosting nutrition, and exotic fruits and vegetables to relieve mealtime fatigue has increased during the pandemic, giving retailers a unique opportunity to tap into this buying impulse to try something again while appealing to everyday favorites like bananas, pineapples, apples and oranges.
While the same rules for merchandising fresh fruit and vegetables apply online – products must be well presented and immediately available – online retailers have the advantage of being able to link to recipes, presentation suggestions , product and nutrition information and even producer and sustainability details. much more seamlessly in the digital space, Goldfield said.
Thompson agreed that online marketplaces can be great showcases for brands. An online retail environment, he said, gives brands a greater opportunity to engage with their target audience and tell their story.
“The ability to showcase key messages about sustainability attributes, unique product features, or simply using great imagery are all benefits of storytelling for the online shopper.”
Revol Greens optimizes its online shopping experience for consumers by ensuring it has stunning product images and detailed product description.
But those aspects fall into the “table stakes” category, so much has the bar been raised online, Thompson. Building on this foundation, Thompson said, Revol Greens is committed to determining how best to reach potential consumers through customer marketing campaigns.
“It’s critical to the success of our program.
The proof is in the numbers: Revol Greens’ online sales grew at a faster rate than its physical sales, Thompson said.
This strong online performance will soon lead to announcements that Revol Greens is partnering with key retailers to bring its products to consumers and meet them where they shop – from access to sustainable lettuce at local grocery stores to supplying bulk products to club warehouses, says Thompson.
Trust is key to buying products online, Goldfield said, and brands like Dole have been able to build that trust after delivering positive, quality product experiences for generations.
In fact, he added, brand value can be even more important in the digital space where buyers cannot rely on traditional means of decision-making, product inspection and confirmation of purchase. the quality.
“Retailers are realizing this as a key benefit of established brands, and Dole is intensifying its collaboration with online partners to increase customer relevance and digital targeting,” he said. “Dole is leveraging its brand power for online shoppers across all product areas, but especially in packaged salads.”
As some of Dole’s retail partners lack the space to display the brand’s full line of salads, Dole relies on online marketing and promotion to communicate new product launches and the extent of its list of salad kit products, Goldfield said.
Dole increased its focus on retailer digital and e-commerce marketing with relevant offers, inspiration and recipes throughout the online shopping experience.
The company often adds a digital element to in-store purchases with QR codes on media such as banana stickers, pineapple labels and salad wrappers that take shoppers to Dole.com to learn more about the products, promotions, nutrition, recipes and more.
Using tools like Instacart as a vehicle to help launch new Dole products has grown in popularity with online customers, Goldfield said. Dole has strengthened its partnerships with Instacart and other retailers in recent years to support the introduction of new product lines and extensions, most with a track record of success.
Dole has also had great success with third-party partnerships and co-promotions in the digital space. The online healthy living campaigns the company has implemented as part of its multi-year nutrition collaboration with The Walt Disney Company have helped it expand its reach to many more fresh food-loving groups.
Previous campaigns have been themed around Disney’s Beauty and Beast, Disney & Pixar’s Incredibles 2, Marvel Studios’ Captain Marvel, Disney’s Frozen 2, and a Disney & Pixar’s Monsters-themed “Fruit & Vegetables Don’t Have to be Scary” initiative. , Inc., among others.
How To: A Case Study of Harnessing the Power of Online Branding
During National Salad Month in May 2021, Charlotte, NC-based Dole Food Co. used an array of online tactics, including digital and social media, public relations, and blogger/influencer partnerships. to actively promote the health benefits, taste and convenience of Dole Packaged Salads, and some of the dozens of Dole Salad Recipes on www.dole.com.
Melanie Marcus, MA, RN, in-house dietitian and nutrition and health communications manager for Dole, has shared salad recipes, serving suggestions and related content with hundreds of thousands of salad lovers via social media and blogger posts, streaming videos, online public relations and the Dole Nutrition News, the company’s monthly e-newsletter on healthy lifestyles.