Tuesday, March 4, 2014

What Retail Produce Marketing is About!

by John Berry, Extension Educator, Lehigh Co.

The incentive to consider retail marketing is obvious.  The closer you can get to retail customers, the more retail dollars go in your pocket.  However, it's not all profits.  If you sell retail, you will be providing services the wholesalers, packagers, distributors, and retailers typically provide.  As we approach another fresh produce marketing season, let's review some of the key details of operating a direct-to-consumer marketing enterprise.

Visual Display
Proper presentation of products increases sales.  Shoppers receive a positive impression if products are top quality, clean, and tastefully displayed.  Remember that high-quality products are the strength of produce markets!

A lively, well-stocked produce department entices the customer to buy and increases sales and profits.  Think of yourself as an artist, with several palettes of colors to choose from: visual - color, contrast, shape, size; smell - herbs, fruits; and touch - soft or firm.

Make displays that look like they came from the farm.  Wooden crates or boxes work well.  Baskets are beautiful; slant them toward the customer.  Even an attractive tablecloth can add to your sales.  Stair stepped displays create an array of depth, color, and texture; however, they may not be easy for the customer to reach or easy to restock.  Utilize vertical space by hanging products from slings or hangers.

Merchandising
"Pile it high and kiss it good-bye!"  Full, well-stocked displays make customers want to come back and get it.  Customers don't like taking the last of something from a bare, picked-over display; they want to choose the best.  Remember to not overstock to prevent the risk of crushing tender items on the bottom.

Make it easy for the customers to reach for the produce.  Your display should be no more than an arm's reach in depth, and between knee and waist level in height.  Don't put your merchandise on the ground.  Instead of placing your boxes flat, try slanting your produce to give the customer a more pleasing visual sense of your product.

Excellent example of using color and texture with a wide
product mix.  Everything I need to make a delicious side
dish for my dinner.
Organize products in related groupings.  Such groups might include dessert items, salad items, cooking vegetables, apples and pears.  Displaying compatible products together serves as a suggestion for additional purchases and uses of the products.

Research shows the use of color and texture greatly enhances eye appeal.  People enjoy food with their senses, so displays that are eye appealing tend to increase purchases.  Mix a row of radishes between the mustard and kale, tomatoes between the lettuce and cucumbers, or intersperse peaches with blueberries to create dazzling color displays.

Suggested good color groupings:
  • Red and yellow or green
  • Light green with yellow or purple
  • Dark green with red, orange or yellow
If you don't have a lot of variety, create a color mixture with flowers or signs.

Price Signs
Prices should be clearly marked.  Most shoppers are in a hurry and will not search out the manager to find out how much something costs.  Include a few product features and perhaps menu suggestions on signs to stimulate your buyers' thoughts on how to use the item.

Great use of limited sign space to describe the product itself,
how to store at home, and possible uses.
Final Thoughts
Restock displays frequently, rotate products as needed, and remove damaged, decayed, or unsaleable products promptly.  Unsightly produce left on your stand not only detracts from sales, but it leaves the customer with the notion that you sell rotten produce.  If you'd buy it, leave it; if not, pull it out.

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