What Blew Us Away (#WBUA): State of the Industry Marketing Takeaways from Fresh Summit

Like so many of you, each year the team at DMA is intoxicated by the information shared by Cathy Burns during the Fresh Summit State of the Industry (SOI).  While this year’s State of the Industry is the first ever to be hosted virtually due to the pandemic, we found ourselves empathizing with the realities that Cathy and the team at PMA faced when preparing the content for the SOI and appreciated the candor.

With so many unknowns relative to our future, Cathy’s words certainly resonated and we were pleased to hear her guiding words and collaborative-minded outlook.

Here are the take-aways that we believe are most important for marketers to heed as we begin planning for the year ahead:

A new extraordinary that we make together.

This motivating statement set the tone for the SOI as Cathy asked us all to look to pave the way for a future that will require collaboration and marketing together. Cathy said it so eloquently when she stated, “We cannot let hunger persist in a world where fresh fruit and veggies are abundant”.  Now is the time for our industry to work together to continue to develop solutions to get food in the hands of people that will continually need it as we prepare for the unknown of 2021.  In the meantime, business rules are changing and will continue to change as new realities will surface for our economy and our own businesses.

  • What you can do: Work together to cross merchandise and participate in promotions that include multiple brands.  Together we can market effectively either on the shelf or off.  Encourage your retail partners to work with you in driving demand to their stores using social media and geo-targeting to encourage foot traffic to the right people in the right places at the right time.

People are driven to buy “fresh”.

At the beginning of the pandemic, panic drove a shopping frenzy which produced the two highest sales weeks in retail history.  Retailers with strong ecommerce platforms were prepared to help shoppers that were unable or unwilling to visit grocery stores resulting in an increase in new grocery shoppers online.  In addition to fresh produce sales soaring, floral sales have also experienced a lift since the beginning of the pandemic in the U.S. to the tune of 8%.

  • What you can do: Consider creative ways to position your products to speak directly to the consumers needs right now (nutrition, immunity, personal nutrition needs).  Use health and wellness, both physically and emotionally, to help shoppers see that a life filled with more fresh food and flowers, is a flavorful and appealing lifestyle to lead.  And just because they may be shopping less in stores, fresh food and flowers are items that are available for pick-up or delivery!

Heroes don’t stop doing what they need to do.

When scarcity (or perceived scarcity) occurred in the spring, commercials and pop culture in general celebrated the unassuming workers that are essential to our maintaining our well-being.  From truckers to grocery store staffers and farmers, consumers started to take a deeper look at the people behind the products that they cherish. Business rules are fundamentally changing and will continue to rapidly change.

  • What you can do: Heroes don’t stop doing what they need to do.  Our opportunity is to give our world a glimpse of the work that we do each and every day by elevating the facts on our company’s website, social media posts and in public relations stories that we share with the world. Don’t hide the wonderful stories that you inherently have as a grower, trucking company or retail establishment.  You are the true heroes of the pandemic and you should be proud.

Leaning into your “purpose” and doing what is right.

Brands like Dyson and Nike answered the call for help and provided relatively immediate solutions to keep businesses and front-line workers in business despite the challenging realities the pandemic created. 

In the fresh produce industry, our own companies and brands have donated produce to people in need, worked with programs like the impressive USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Program and given families access to 600K food vouchers via Brighter Bites to ensure people have access to fresh food during these economically challenging times.

  • What you can do:  Investigate in and get involved with programs and organizations like Brighter Bites, that exist to help get fresh into the hands of people in need.  If you’re a grower, you likely already give away product, which is wonderful.  Highlight what you’re doing in this regard on the website, in social media posts, and use it in your everyday conversations with your internal and external stakeholders to drive it home.  Use your purpose to recruit qualified people into our industry.  If defining your company’s purpose is something you have put on the back burner, feel free to contact us and we can give you the push you need to get this important part of your business moving forward.

Seize the moment with the incredible opportunity we have with marketing.

As we noted earlier, seizing the moment to share what is good and what is right during this time in history provides a great opportunity for marketers.  Being inclusive with your content and stepping into trends that have surfaced over the last 7 months particularly around nutrition, are good things that you can do as a marketer to stay relevant. 

Danl Mackey Almy_State of the Industry_2020By sharpening your branding efforts with a thoughtful approach to buyers and consumers, you will inevitably create deeper connections that set the stage for a future filled with fresh produce. 

During the SOI, PMA shared clips from industry members highlighting life before and during the pandemic. Our CEO, Dan’l Mackey Almy, stated, “If we truly intend on increasing demand and consumption of fresh produce and floral, we need to seize this moment and treat marketing as a required investment.” 

  • What you can do:  Use your marketing efforts to elevate the things that consumers need from you most right now. When Cathy elaborated more on the ideals for which we are to optimize our marketing, she summed it up with:
    • Optimize people’s lifestyle with your products
    • Bring flavor and fragrance into their homes
    • Provide a better physical and mental opportunity for tomorrow

As we venture into day 2 of Fresh Summit, we look forward to hearing what you have to say including your take-aways and your revelations from the SOI and other programming during the show.  Feel the need to share with us?  Leave us a comment below or reach out to us on Twitter @TheCoreBlog using the #FreshSummit hashtag!