“People want to know what is on sale, and they want Doritos.”
That’s the advice and message my beloved marketing mentor, Seth Godin, delivered straight to my face during a 2014 event titled Business Gets Personal when I told him we were on a mission to increase consumption of fresh produce.
He was right and I knew it. And you know it too.
As I wrestled with his stark statement (when what I was really hoping for was some sure-fire Seth “how to” advice), a revelation about our constant quest “to increase consumption” started to take shape.
Unequivocally, if there is any topic we are consistently thinking about and working on as an industry it is increasing consumption. It has been our quest since I entered the space over 20 years ago, and it still is today. As it was 20 years ago, despite many efforts, consumption remains flat or well below the recommended levels according to PBH. We could spend days discussing why consumption is flat, but the truth is that while our products are becoming more popular and “mainstream,” we are far from reaching our potential.
Which begs the question...is increasing consumption an achievable goal? Can we increase consumption of fresh produce? If so, how will we measure success? Sure, there is a tremendous amount of research available that provides benchmarks and progress based on specific criteria. (I highly recommend this one by PBH). But, at the company and brand level, is this a measurable, realistic goal?
If consumers want Doritos, how can we increase consumption of fresh produce?
I don’t think we can, at least not in a measurable or meaningful way.
But, what can we do?
I believe we can influence and increase demand for our products.
Demand is about a person’s desire and willingness to find, seek and choose your products.
Demand starts online with a recipe search, a Facebook like or a memorable experience with a product you sell. Demand also exists when there is access. Are the products that we grow readily available to consumers where they shop and eat…think schools, fast food restaurants, airports, etc.
Demand can be measured. Demand precedes consumption. Demand for fresh produce is what we can control and when we are successful, we increase consumption of fresh produce.
In other words, consumption of fresh produce alone doesn’t tell us much as individual brands. Just recently we had a call with a fresh produce grower who mentioned to us that their retail customers were asking them to get more involved on social media to create awareness and demand for their new product line. This only confirms that our thinking around demand is in the right place: As marketers, we have to first drive demand and then increased consumption will result.
As marketers we have the ability to inspire consumers to prefer fresh produce over the bag of Doritos. Think about your own marketing efforts relative to demand and how you are actively creating content that inspires consumers to choose you over a bag of chips. If we are going to be relevant in the food marketing space, we are going to need to think, market and measure differently to succeed.