By Fresh Produce Marketing founder Lisa Cork
I’ve spent the last few months researching the impact of omni-channel retailing on fresh produce. Part of this was in preparation to speak at an marketing conference on the topic in Europe and part of this was to satisfy my own curiosity as a brand and marketing strategist.
What does omni-channel actually mean? According to Shopify, a company dedicated to helping companies sell online, “Omni-channel retailing — or, omni-channel (meaning, all channels) — is a fully-integrated approach to commerce that provides shoppers a unified experience across online and offline channels (e.g., touchpoints). True omni-channel shopping extends from brick-and-mortar locations to mobile-browsing, e-commerce marketplaces, onsite storefronts, social media, retargeting, and everything in between.”
Within the fresh produce industry, where our consumer sales channels are less complex, I have interpreted omni-channel to mean an integrated approach to selling fruits and vegetables both offline and online.
A simple example to explain this is Instacart. Instacart is the phenomena that has enable brick and mortar retailers to offer online and home delivery options using their existing, brick and mortar offer, including fresh produce. Let me use the following story as an example.
I recently visited my hometown in California. Even with a population of only 50,000 people, we have access to Instacart (thanks to 36 local Insta shoppers) and seven different retail supermarkets. Wanting to ‘test’ the system, I placed an order for Food4Less, via Instacart, which gave me seamless access to Food4Less’s grocery and produce offer. I booked my delivery time and my Food4Less order arrived on schedule and was exactly what I had ordered, even down to the ripe and unripe avocados.
To me, this is a simple but good example of omni-channel in action. I could go and do my own grocery shopping at Food4Less or I can use a service like Instacart that makes Food4Less items available to me online and for home delivery.
Omni-channel is changing food shopping as we know it. While the numbers are small now, there is both evolution and revolution taking place and food shopping is an industry poised for disruption.
As for fresh produce, there are multiple factors that will see shopper numbers and the conversion to omni-channel lag behind shelf-stable, packaged foods and grocery staples. But never say never and once the technical and logistical issues are overcome, look for more and more fruit and veg to be sold online.
A good case study to note is Ocado in the UK now reports that 40% of its orders are for chilled fresh food and when they add bananas and potatoes into the mix, this moves to over 50% fresh.
The lesson here is be prepared for change and the time to start thinking about the impact of omni-channel on your brand or business is now. I’ve talked to brick and mortar retailers who say omni-channel will be fully embedded within three years – that is how fast individual retailers are moving to prevent loss of sales and shares to their retail competition.
Just when you were trying to get your head around the disruption caused by omni-channel selling…there is another major disruptor looming on the horizon – voice technology.
Simply search ‘voice activation’ and you will get a million hits with all kinds of stats and data. If you like the numbers, check out this blog for voice search stats: https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2018/04/10/voice-search-statistics-2018. One of the stats the blog shares is that by 2020, comScore is predicting that 50% of all searches will be done by voice. Other experts note Google has reported that around 55% of teens and 40% of adults use voice search daily and voice search is growing faster than any other type of search.
Here in New Zealand, a new ad by telecom company Spark paints an entertaining (and frightening) picture of what they are calling ‘Generation Voice.’ Click on this link to see the ad: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vaNl5d4rjk. It is interesting to think that even for young children, voice searching (and buying?) becomes available as soon as they are old enough to verbalise a request. Surely this will be a game changer for the next generation.
To get my head around voice, I decided to start playing with voice activated searching and getting an understanding for the impact voice will have on brands and brand naming. What I can tell you is, voice changes everything – and here is why you need to care about this.
I met recently with a company who wanted me to provide an external opinion on a new brand that had been proposed by their agency. The new brand name was long and not very distinctive. I asked the client, “Have you tested it on voice as part of ensuring the brand will work for you in the future?” and they had not. So we tested it…and it failed.
On a search mechanism like Alexa by Amazon, the name was so generic that a search pulled up a raft of products with no relationship to fruit. The name was also long and slightly hard to pronounce, which also caused issues.
Let me link this column together. More fresh produce companies will turn to branding as a strategy for survival in an omni-channel world. The alternative to branding is to become a generic, commodity supplier and I can’t see that being a satisfactory outcome for most produce suppliers. So brand is only going to grow in importance.
If brand grows, then brand naming becomes important. Not only will a brand need to be suitable for offline sales and online sales, but a brand will need to be successful in a voice-activated search world too. That’s a lot of pressure for a brand!
For those of you considering a new brand or rebranding as a part of your future strategy, here are five ways voice activation will change how you think about a new brand name.
- Think memorable. While anyone who creates a brand strives for this, memorability becomes even more important in a voice activated world where consumers may not have your product or packaging in front of them to know what to ask for. It is important they remember your brand.
- Think visual. Create a visual brand ‘hook’ as part of creating a memorable brand. Pink Lady apples is a good brand name. It is both visual AND linked to a core product attribute – the pink colour of the apple’s skin. Cotton Candy grapes is another great brand name. Cotton Candy is very visual AND it links to the flavour of the grapes.
- Verbally test any new brand to ensure it can be understood. If you are given a list of brands to choose from, test them verbally either using a home based device like Echo or using an app like Google or the Amazon shopping app. For example, I tested trying to find the Mighties kiwifruit brand on the Amazon Shopping app. I have tried and tried to get the app to find Mighties Kiwifruit but the app cannot understand what I am asking for. It will pull up brands with the name Mighty but it does not seem able to understand Mighties. This is important because if your brand can’t be found using voice, this is not good news for the future.
- Beware of clever, misspelled brand names. I know misspelled brands are all the rage now, especially in packaged food. Brands like Nootra, Verday, Vybes, Tranquini (verbal search shows Train Queenie) are all great on-shelf but the spelling and sound of the name makes them hard to find via voice. This is an important consideration.
- This final one is just a hunch but two/three syllable names search well, providing you have met the other rules above. There is something about the voice cadence of multiple syllables that works with search right now.
Fresh produce is late to the branding party and the new rules around voice-activated search will make creating a good brand name challenging. Hopefully my observations provide some guidance for your next brand naming exercise. Happy branding!