I just finished reading my July issue of Produce Business, a publication that I find to be very helpful in discovering new products and learning about how supermarkets, grocery stores, and club stores merchandise new and established products, packaging, national promotional programs, etc. While flipping through the pages, I saw a picture of black garlic, something that I was able to taste at the 2009 Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City. On first glance, you might not find this product to be visually appealing. The bulb certainly looks like a garlic bulb you would find in a supermarket. Instead of a creamy translucent- looking bulb though, the contents are a dark black, almost charcoal-looking. Being someone who loves the flavor of garlic, I was pleasantly surprised to find, as stated in the Produce Business article, that the garlic tasted "milder and sweeter" than traditional garlic. The bold color could really add dimension to a dish.
I must admit that if not presented with the opportunity to try the garlic at the Food Show and hear about the various ways that it could be used (in place of or in addition to traditional garlic) I would have probably passed by without a second look. I'm sure that there have been instances where you have seen a new product or service and weighed the cost vs. the benefits that the item would have provided you. If you are a retailer or a wholesale grower who gets feedback about consumer response to products you sell in an outlet, perhaps you have learned about or witnessed consumers looking at or touching a new item that is offered but instead of placing it in their basket, they return it to the shelf. The consumer might not even know what the product is, how to store it, how to prepare it, and/or how to serve it. Attendees at the Food Show (most of whom are retailers, brokers, and others involved in the food industry) benefitted from some insight about the product. It is best that retailers consider the same level of promotion and education in their own stores.
What are some simple promotions that a retailer could implement whether it be at an independent grocery store, a farmers' market, on-farm market, or other?
-Signage that describes the item is one example and probably something you already implement. Do you describe the products flavor, how it could be used, and how easy it is to prepare? The idea is not to make the sign too busy with words and overload the customer, but rather pick three brief but informative points and include them on the sign.
-How about making the new product the "product of the week?" Add extra signs throughout the store to alert customers of the new addition.
-Product placement may also be something to consider. Keep the featured product near the other like items but also position smaller batches for sale near the register and other items consumers tend to purchase frequently.
Perhaps to get you started, visit a few retail outlets that appeal to your target customers and see how they are using signage and product placement. What works for them might just work for you.