What Blew Us Away (#WBUA): Fresh Summit 2020 Day 2 Highlights

Can we be honest?  It can sometimes be a stretch to find common ground with speakers and business leaders outside our industry who are operating with an entirely different set of constructs and daily realities.  Of course, we understand that there are principles and practices that span industries and offer something for all of us to learn from. We certainly go into every educational session looking for those takeaways that can make us better marketers and business leaders.

But there was something special about today’s sessions that made us not have to look very hard.  Day 2 of virtual Fresh Summit can be summarized in one word for us – INSPIRING.  Both the general session and the Selling A Healthier You! session left our team feeling hopeful, inspired, and motivated to continue striving toward our purpose to inspire demand for—and ultimately, consumption of—fresh fruits and vegetables.

General Session: Inspirational Ways to Grow a Healthier World 

Wine to Water

Doc Hendley, the Founder and President of Wine to Water opened the session with a heartfelt introduction to himself and his early years struggling to find his calling amidst a family filled with academic and athletic talent – something he felt sorely lacking in.  It wasn’t until his early 20s after several odd jobs that he stumbled into the foodservice industry and eventually bartending, that he discovered his passion for people and service.

That passion took flight in a new direction when he heard about the plight of families on the other side of the world and their lack of access to a fundamental daily need, fresh water.  Armed with this new awareness, Doc decided to do something about it with his first Wine to Water fundraising event. One event turned into many, and he then found himself in Africa witnessing first-hand who his efforts were helping. Not only was access to fresh water preventing mass illness, but families were now able to spend less time caring for the sick and walking miles each day to gather water from a clean source and more time on industrious activities that contributed to the local economy as well as the financial stability of their own family.

Doc and his team have now served 1,000,000 people with clean water – all because a young man who didn’t have much belief in himself decided to ignore the negative voices in his head and dream the impossible. He encouraged us to recognize that now is the time to take on the impossible. He challenged us to take risks, learn to fail well, and look for the growth opportunities we can gain from those failures.

In these challenging times, it can be terribly easy for even the biggest risk-takers to become risk-averse.  To start measuring every move against what makes the most sense, what is the most conventional path, and what will ruffle the least feathers. Perhaps now is the time to actually stretch ourselves and reach for the uncomfortable.

Zipline International

Our second speaker, Keller Rinaudo, CEO of Zipline Industries was no less inspiring. Having a similar calling to serve the underprivileged, Keller’s focus was on that of the 5.5 million children who die each year due to limited access to basic medical supplies – supplies that we take for granted to be in abundance at any given medical facility in our country.

Keller looked around at the technological advances that tech giants in our country were focused on and realized we had the collective means and the thought leadership to solve this crisis – we just hadn’t cared to try yet.  In his words, we were too focused on solving the problems of the rich vs. really addressing the lack of basic resources for millions of people around the world.

Keller and his team set out to become the catalyst for change. Despite experts telling him his idea for a healthcare logistics system was unattainable and his business plan was a bad investment, he stayed the course. His company eventually overcame the odds and built the largest autonomous delivery system in the world. Today Zipline delivers 75% of the blood supply to Rwanda and serves 2,500 hospitals and health care facilities in Rwanda, Ghana, and the US.

Keller underscored Doc’s point that we grow up being told how not to fail and gauge success based no mitigated failures, but it’s okay to crash and it’s okay to fail. It’s actually required for true success. He challenged us to think practically as we’re problem-solving and to not trust the experts because they are paid to tell us why things won’t work.

Selling A Healthier You! Marketing the Benefits of Fresh Floral and Produce 

With a lineup of speakers including pioneering physician Dr. William Li, Texas A&M Professor of Horticultural Sciences Dr. Charlie Hall, Zespri Chief Growth Officer Jiunn Shih, and our very own Dan’l Mackey Almy, we had high expectations for this dialogue about marketing the benefits of fresh floral and produce, and we were not disappointed! 

Dr. Hall opened the session with compelling insights about the physiological, psychological, and social benefits of flowers.  Numerous studies have found that flowers have a chemical effect on our emotional and physical well-being in a number of ways, including reducing cortisol levels which, in turn, reduces stress and anxiety. Even more interesting, he shared that both the giver and the receiver experience positive physiological and psychological benefits from gifting flowers. Maybe the most eye-opening data he presented was on a study that  found that patients with flowers in their room or in the visible landscape around their room can tolerate more pain with less pain medicine. What an incredible testament to the power of our floral industry!

Dr. Li shared equally strong remarks regarding the importance of thinking about fresh produce as our body’s own activation for health, now more than ever. The pandemic we are facing has begun to elevate the opportunities we have to use food as medicine, and unfortunately, the medical community isn’t trained to address food and nutrition when they are speaking with patients about healing and prevention. We absolutely loved Dr. Li’s idea to bring together the medical, fresh produce, and floral communities in a joint conference to collaborate and benefit from each other. How do we make it happen, PMA!? We’re here to help!

Of course, the medical discussion was just one piece of this thought-provoking dialogue. Equal emphasis was given to the value of marketing’s role in sharing these incredible stories so that consumers can consistently hear and come to understand the power that flowers and fresh produce have in our lives. (Power of Flowers is a catchy campaign slogan if we do say so ourselves!)

DMA Solutions’ Dan’l Mackey Almy and Zespri’s Chief Growth Officer, Jiunn Shih, weighed in on the role of marketing. Dan’l shared how eating is innately an emotional experience that automatically lends our products to these deeper, more meaningful conversations. Our challenge is to shift our brand communications with shoppers to the benefits of our products rather than the features.  We need to focus on how our products directly impact so many aspects of shoppers’ lives rather than the details of our product attributes.

Jiunn agreed that as brand managers, we need to identify the jobs and/or tensions in shopper’s lives that our products can scientifically address and bridge that gap by communicating medical data in a consistent, digestible format.  Our job is to understand the consumer and use science to communicate what they will gain by consuming our products. To that end, Jiunn introduced us to a soon to be released study undertaken to verify kiwi’s significant health benefits, not the least is gut health and improved mental clarity by simply consuming two kiwis per day.

The discussion concluded with a resounding agreement from the group that we all must play our part to improve shopper understanding about the health benefits of our products. Dan’l emphasized that while we all have such unique stories to share, we must use our megaphones to get our messages out.  We may look at CPG brands that have bigger budgets, bigger megaphones, and greater access to shoppers, and quit before we’ve even started. But bigger megaphones are not always better. Thousands of fresh produce and floral megaphones will, indeed, have an undeniable impact on the health of our country if only we will pick ours up and join the fight.

We genuinely hope you found today’s sessions as memorable as we did. As we consider the current circumstances in our country, we are ending today looking ahead with hopeful expectations for what is to come because we know so many of you have chosen to take up your megaphone and spread the joy of fresh right along with us.