Archive for May, 2013

Brand Exposure Is Not Always Positive

chiquita I took the photo recently on the main railway station in Munich. I am digging it out again because I have been contemplating the DOLE position vis a vis the Oxfam report on banana plantation ethics. On one hand, here is DOLE trying to position its fruit at the sustainable/ethical/credible end of the supply spectrum. On the other hand, CHIQUITA is busy trying to break out from the produce shelf, aiming its offer direct at the consumer.

There is a common theme here. Both companies have built up considerable brand equity in their brand over the decades. Naturally, when one is in such a position, one can be forgiven for looking for arising commercial advantages. In both cases, it involves a positioning exercise with the consumer. Which approach is more plausible do you think? Saying to commuters, “hey look, you can also trust my brand when it comes to buying quality and healthy fruit, fruit snacks and juices for you to eat on your train journey” – or telling shoppers, “we believe we are good corporate citizens and are prepared to tell you that by way of a label to that effect on each bunch of fruit?”

I don’t actually think a straight comparison is possible…but both efforts would not have been undertaken lightly because no business owner goes and deliberately exposes his brand to unnecessary risk. Any new development or initiative undertaken in companies with a high degree of brand equity will sooner rather than later trigger the question, “Do we fully understand how this possible decision would impact on our brand?”

So at the very least , we need to assume that DOLE has not rushed like a headless chicken into a situation where they issue labels which blatantly provide incorrect information. A more likely scenario is this: DOLE would have over the years invested considerable sums into improving the working environment on the banana farms and through that the living standards of employees. Results would have been measurable, prompting the DOLE marketing department to come up with the label approach. The marketing guys would not have had any qualms about this approach, because they believed the results were visible and the campaign justified.

Unfortunately, the discerning first world consumer with a bend towards sustainability, fair trade, political motivation and a transfer of wealth from developed to developing nations cannot agree that the level of positive changes achieved warrant the label and the campaign. Particularly in New Zealand where three vocal people can represent a pressure group which Government is prone to listen to. On any topic…not just bananas.

Then there is the small matter that the charity crying wolf about DOLE’s label happens to be supporting a competing banana project… where are the ethics in that?

In the meantime, DOLE has done the decent thing and suspended the use of the label.

If my attitude towards marketing managers sounds a bit cynical – I remember a Foodtown marketing manager who had a giant guillotine built for a TV commercial. He parked the monstrosity at the top of the Whangaparoa Peninsula cliffs, and filmed cabbage and other unsuspecting produce being chopped in half and chucked down the cliff onto the beach in an attempt to convince customers that produce prices had been permanently reduced…Needless to say, the campaign was a total flop.

And I will, by the way, read the Oxfam report and comment more in due course.

Bananas from the Bay of Plenty?

I think not!

locavore

Grab One is a New Zealand website focused on daily deals and aimed at stimulating targeted consumption.  Nothing wrong with that.  Today, one of the deals popping up in my electronic in-tray is an offer to buy a fruit box, door to door delivery, supplied by Kiwi Growers Direct.

So far so good.

The offer is quite specific…”Tuck into a wide variety of freshly picked fruit including apples, lemons, mandarins, kiwifruit and persimmons.”

Can’t be clearer than that…and the merchant claims to be a collective of growers, 100% kiwi owned…and for my convenience, a link to the organisation’s website has also been provided.  Here it is…Kiwi Growers Direct

Naturally, I go for a look….and immediately end up with an authenticity/credibility problem…

The composite picture shown on the website includes bananas, table grapes, pears and melons, none of which are grown in the Bay of Plenty….as well as tomatoes, artichokes and egg plants, product I can’t order from the supplier.

Guys, a good initiative, but you ought to get your marketing story straight.  I ‘shop’ with all my senses…

The Role of Fruit & Veg In Our Society

I HAD POSTED THIS CONTRIBUTION A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO…THINGS DO NOT CHANGE THOUGH.  THE CURRENT DEBATE HERE IN NEW ZEALAND ABOUT THE NEED FOR A “FOOD IN SCHOOLS” PROGRAMME IS HIGHLIGHTING THAT THE PROBLEM OF PRODUCE PRICE PERCEPTION IS ALIVE AND WELL. BUGGER.

NEAT AND TIDY PRODUCE DISPLAY

NEAT AND TIDY PRODUCE DISPLAY

 

I have discussed fresh produce pricing on a number of occasions – as those who visit here regularly will have noticed.

Well, I had an epiphany last week.  I think I have the answer to the problem of fresh produce pricing…

I was listening to the segment on National Radio where they rattle through the headlines from the New Zealand newspapers around the regions and one headline caught my ear – enough to make me look up the news item in question from the Dominion Post.

So, what are the issues again?

People need to eat fresh fruit and veg.  But the price of fresh produce is too high for people afford, so their health is at risk, according to nutritionists.

Growers need to make a living from growing and supplying fresh produce.  But the price of fresh produce is too low for them to do that, so their livelihood (and our food supply) is at risk, according to growers.

“Somebody” isn’t prepared to pay growers a high enough price for their produce and that “somebody” is being driven by the behaviour of the consumer.

So who is driving this consumer behaviour?  The influences are many and varied, ranging from the mother-in-law, the school, the mommy bloggers, the kids, nutritionists in the media, the consumer’s own perception and so on…

I’m going to stick my neck out here:

the glass ceiling for fresh produce prices exists to a large extent because people like nutritionists persist with pushing the idea that fruit & veg should be cheap!

Here’s my answer, then.

What needs to happen is that the fresh produce industry takes the nutritionists in hand and makes them understand the commercial realities of growing fruit & vegetables, so that the nutritionists’ ability to influence can be harnessed better in correctly position produce on the consumers’ plate.

BayWa – Bayern Munich Fan Extraordinaire

baywa bag
Wandering through one of Munich’s shopping streets last Saturday, I came across a BayWa promotion….in their role of Bayern Munich sponsor. Being the naturally curious fellow that I am, I stopped for a visit and was promptly accosted by one of the promo girls, screaming into my ear, how absolutely marvellous it was that Bayern Munich had managed to get into the playoffs – and would I like to win a set of tickets for the playoffs?

Wow, I thought with a typical consumer reaction, pretty impressive.  And yes, I sure would like to be at the Munich/Dortmund Champions League final at Wembley later this month…that was the playoff I thought she was talking about. So I handed over my details and received this little bag in return. Glossy bag, bottle of water, an energy bar and an absolutely misshapen Granny Smith apple.

“What’s all that?”, I asked the young lady. “Well”, she said, we would like you to know a little bit more about BayWa. The water stands for our energy business, the muesli bar for our building supply activities and the apple represents our agriculture business. And we just love Bayern Munich.”

I did not take a closer look until I got back to my hotel later on and unpacked the bag properly.  The apple sure was not a good sight from a company which seems to consider itself to be a premium apple merchant.  I guess, one simply can’t just expect every apple to be the same…as one can with bottled water and muesli bars… or heating oil and building supplies…the prices might change but at least the product consistency would not change drastically.  Lessons to be learnt.

The lesson I learned was to read the fine print.  BayWa does not sponsor Bayern Munich, the soccer club…. but the Bayern Munich basketball section, so even if I win the tickets which I doubt very much, I would not be going to Wembley Stadium but to a basketball game in Munich.

A bit of a let down BayWa.

 

 

David Smith – Pony Finder Extraordinaire

horse_manure-obamawinningasecondterm-lloydmarcusarticles-chattanoogaville

© 2013 Chattanoogaville.com

Many of you would have heard the following story before, in one form or another…

“One day a scientist decided to run a test on two boys. He took the pessimistic boy to a room full of new toys, telling him that they were all his. He immediately began to cry saying that one day they would all break. He then took the optimistic boy to an old barn which contained a huge pile of fresh steaming horse manure. The boy was immediately excited, grabbed a shovel and began digging in the manure. The stunned scientist asked the boy what he was doing. The boy immediately responded that with all this horse manure there has to be a pony in here somewhere.” (Anonymous).

And we have all been watching the fall out at Turners & Growers with great interest…

Well, if there is one guy in the New Zealand produce industry who has over decades consistently displayed great aptitude in finding the pony, then it would have to be Dave Smith at Freshmax.

Snow Hardy, Terry Brown and now Alistair Petrie are a right little troika of ex T&G ponies to emerge at Freshmax.  I would suggest – watch this space.

And now, for some thing completely different, here is a link to a famous Monty Python sketch, where John Cleese is teaching his colleagues how to defend themselves against being attacked by fresh fruit.  The banana segment is especially worthwhile watching.