The Packaging Pitch: finding the "differential advantage"

Most Read Top Stories
The Packaging Pitch: finding the "differential advantage"

By Fresh Produce Marketing founder Lisa Cork

Thanks to everyone who responded to my last column with packaging examples for review. One company, Long Island-based Satur Farms, submitted their lettuce packs. Given they have such an interesting story to tell, they will be the focus of this piece.

Packaging that gets cut through with consumers and commands a premium price for the product within must find a way to differentiate itself and describe its "differential advantage". Companies using this strategy must also recognize that moving to a more premium niche segment means the marketing mantra of "We target anyone who eats" needs to be left behind.

Premium product marketing and packaging moves you away from one-size-fits-all marketing to niche optimization, and this move comes with its own pros and cons. First, you reduce your consumer purchaser numbers because you are now aiming for value, not volume. However, the trade-off is that your product commands a higher price and balance is achieved in that trade-off.

With fresh produce being mostly a commodity, there are a lot of players in the lower value, volume space. So the challenge for producers aspiring to a more premium positioning, is boldly moving out of mass marketing and into on pushing the purchase triggers of a more niche segment.

Satur Farms sent me two of their lettuce packs, which you can see in the photos below. Initially, when I looked at the packs, I thought they were quite attractive. The logo is quite upmarket and there is a clean-ness to the packs. The colors are not traditionally produce colors and this helps them stand out. Aside from that I was not really left with a strong feeling one way or the other, until I went to their website and read their story, and what a story it is!

When I read about them I got a sense and feel for the fact they are almost bespoke farmers, where 'bespoke' refers to custom, individualized quality. He is a former very successful chef and she has degrees in Plant Physiology. They supply premium customers like high-end chefs plus retail customers like Whole Foods and Dean & Deluca.

Everything about their website, their story and their products suggests this is a farm that selects its products and services their customers based on individualized attention to taste and flavor needs. As a result, I sense the opportunity for a strong, customized and personalized feel to their packaging, but I am not picking up any of this sentiment on their packs.

Here are some suggestions they could consider:

- Since packaging communication space is very limited, the Satur Farms brand could be reduced in size. While I agree branding has a role in the premium niche market, in this case I think it dominates too much of the pack and limits other messaging opportunities more in line with their bespoke story.

- I would re-name the product. Mesclun is a mass-merchandised commodity lettuce. It is no longer special, premium or bespoke. While I realize that legally you have to identify what is in the pack, perhaps there is an option for a more tailored mesclun blend with a different name? I would want to brainstorm and pursue this more with the goal of creating a more premium mesclun pack that commands a premium price.

- On the Frisee pack, I am curious about the story behind “Field-blanched for sweetness”. Perhaps the wording here could be put more into ‘marketing speak’ and convey the consumer taste benefit of what “field blanched” means.

- I would like to see more of their unique, quality, bespoke story communicated on pack. Their business is not a corporate farm and this has proven traction with the consumers they want to target. I did not have the chance to see the back of the pack, but would love to see a slightly larger label used or perhaps a label on the back of pack.

Most products and most companies have powerful stories to tell. It could be as simple as communicating the benefits of the corn you shucked or as in-depth as communicating the philosophy and attention to detail you bring to your business and your products.

While my specialty is helping companies get more sales from their packaging communications, a huge part of my work is teasing out the product/company/category/consumer story and telling it in a compelling way on-pack. Great packaging is simply the reward for the hard work done up front.

Free packaging review for Fresh Fruit Portal readers

Like what you’ve read? At Fresh Produce Marketing, one of the services we offer is a packaging communication review. As a value added offer for Fresh Fruit Portal readers, you could have your packaging reviewed just because you’ve read this column. Simply submit a front and back photo of one of your fresh produce packages and tell me a bit about your company and your story. For each column written, we will pick one company and review their packaging as part of this column. Send your packaging photos to

Remember, your packaging is an in-store, mini billboard seen by thousands of potential buyers every day. Make sure every word on your packaging counts by ensuring it adds value and ‘sells’ the benefit the shopper is looking to buy.

Lisa Cork helps fresh produce companies get more sales by improving their packaging communication. You can follow her on Twitter: @broccolilady or visit her website.

Subscribe to our newsletter