The Packaging Pitch: the good and bad news about driving consumption

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The Packaging Pitch: the good and bad news about driving consumption

By Fresh Produce Marketing founder Lisa Cork

Lisa Cork columnistRecently, our industry has been abuzz reporting on the outcomes of the English study showcasing the life-saving benefits of eating fruits and vegetables.

Published April 1 in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, by researchers from the University College London (UCL), the study showed that eating seven or more portions of fruit and vegetables per day reduces your risk of death at any point in time by 42%, compared to eating zero portions. That is a pretty powerful cause and effect outcome.

As a consumer, I know one of the frustrations I have with health research when reported in topical publications like women’s or health magazines, is it always seems a bit flippant. "Studies show eating seven lemons a day makes you happier…". Yes, but who can really fathom eating seven lemons a day?

But with this recent study, there is a much more defined cause and effect link. So that's good news, right? Perhaps, but let me take a contrarian approach.

If changing your life or health outcome by doing things that were good for you were easy, then there would be no obesity, no smoking and no sedentary lifestyles. Entire industries catering for quick fix pills and supplements and no-pain diets would simply disappear overnight because there would no longer be a need.

But that doesn't happen. We can read about how eating seven produce serves a day can make you live longer, but the reality is doing it is harder than we think.

Think back to what you ate yesterday. How many serves did you eat? I had a bad produce day yesterday, with only one produce item crossing my lips.

The psychology of eating is complex. While the science might be there to support eating more fruit and vegetables, the reality of doing so is difficult. Perhaps it is time to approach it differently.

What if the reason people don't eat more fruit and veg is because they don't feel it is truly marketed to their needs? What if the average punter felt buying and cooking a head of broccoli was harder than cooking a roast? What if a canned fruit buyer felt over-awed by having a choice of 15 apple varieties, so determined it was easier to buy canned or processed fruit?

I ask these questions because as you know, my passion is produce packaging and how we communicate with consumers on pack. But packaging is more than just the on-pack communication.

More and more, to help companies, I have to start broader and bigger – I have to look at their whole branding and product and category strategy – in order to find the untapped opportunity. It is only when I start with the big picture that opportunities for doing things differently or marketing/branding their products differently start to come to life.

Recently, I did a case study on Tenderstem broccoli in the U.K. I wanted to see how the product was marketed by the different U.K. multiples and if any retailer was doing anything inventive or unique. They weren't. Even though this is a great product with a great story, most of the on-pack communication was pretty perfunctory.

Yes, some talked about taste and sweetness. Some talked about tenderness. But no one really seemed to dig in deep and 'sell' shoppers on the beauty of this product. Yet when I went to the Tenderstem website, it was loaded with descriptive terms and phrases and unique angles that if they had been brought to life on pack, might have prompted more purchases.

So here is your test for this month. Grab one of your packaged products and put it on your desk. Now, grab the point of sale that goes with the product or print out the home page or Facebook page associated with the product, and see  how much crossover is there. Is your packaging and on-pack communications incorporating the message from your POS and marketing? Yes? No? If not, why not?

Produce companies and marketers put a lot of effort into creating POS to drive consumer interest and purchasing, yet they don't put the same work into their packaging or on-pack communications. If you want to see better results, merge the two worlds together and bring your POS to life on pack.

Yes, health news can help us drive consumption. But effective packaging and on-pack communication can also help too.

Related story: U.K.: Sainsbury's vegetable sales jump on UCL recommendation

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