Archive for 'Consumer'

How Do I Get My Product On The Supermarket Shelf?

guardianMasterclasses are something I immediately associate with food and TV. We can thank Masterchef for that. And the Guardian is a British newspaper. What should I make of those two terms strung together though? The short answer is – anything is possible in a day and age when entertainment by bite size is the norm and the print media resembles a dinosaur and is desperately trying to reinvent itself. The Guardian seems to have determined that it has a role to play in business education way beyond having the latest crop of bowler hatted gentlemen study its financial pages. Which is why it runs a Masterclass dedicated to getting new products, presumably including new produce items, on the supermarket shelf. Details can be found here. If that thought does not appeal, how about waiting for the Walmart “Get On The Shelf” contest to come around again? From time to time, Walmart invites “inventors, tinkerers, thinkers, marketers and everyday Joes” to submit their ideas for scrutiny. BeatlesAnything seems to go these days, as traditional channels of getting business done are reduced to direct contact between wacky inventors and grocery giants and newspapers move into the adult education business. Not that there is much space on those supermarket shelves. Ever since supermarkets decided that their own name belongs on those shelves as well via their house brand and private label product ranges, it tends to be getting pretty crowded on those shelves, with a distinct limit to how many “me too” brands are required. Consumers should welcome that as it narrows the selection typically down to the premium FMCG brand, the retailer’s product and one of the second tier suppliers, just for good measure. Unless, of course, the retailer has a budget line as well as a premium label  he wants to make available. Three is already a crowd. Four becomes a mob – and unmanageable. Luckily, we don’t get to see those positioning exercises too often in the fresh produce area. For now at least, anyway. I seem to recall that supermarket product ranging trends tend to start in the centre grocery aisles before they spread to the perishable departments at the edge of the store. Oh well, The Guardian class starts on Saturday. If you hop on a plane tonight, you will get to the UK on time!

Alternatively – talk to us.

How To Defend Yourself Against A Fresh Fruit Attack…

John Cleese

John Cleese

People of my generation and in possession of a certain sense of humour will recognise the title of this entry straight away. The rest of you who were either born after 1970 or have yet to be exposed to Monty Python style humour which I freely admit is excentric to say the least, don’t know what you are missing. Be that as it may, I was working on our company’s social media strategy earlier this week, when I came across an article entitled “Instagram under attack from fruit wielding spammers”. Naturally, John Cleese and his merry band of men immediately came to mind. Hadn’t anyone at Instagram heard about how to respond when being attacked by a piece of fruit? So I went looking on YouTube and sure enough, I was able to locate  the memorable Monty Python clip without trouble. A great Friday afternoon pick-me-up, I suggest, as you prepare for the weekend.

On a more serious note, fruit can actually ‘attack’ you. Have a look at this article when you get a chance.  It describes how organic berryfruit was linked to a Hepatitis A outbreak in the USA last year, impacting on 49 people across 7 states and hospitalising 11.

“Fruit attacks” are entirely plausible. It is just highly unlikely that the attack will follow the Monty Python route. The opposite will be the case.  Silent and without much ado. If you want to see how John Cleese dealt with the fruit attacks, please watch the video clip.  To reduce your exposure to the more silent approach, I would suggest you revisit  your food safety policy. And you know where to come if you need help with that.

Hunting & Gathering The Modern Way

We might be a fairly sophisticated lot, us humans,  but there  are some basics facts in play, which apply regardless of where we live, of our gender, our age or our occupation.  I want to focus on just one of those facts for now; namely, the fact we need to eat.  And as we , at least in the OECD countries, lead relatively charmed lives these days.  We do not even need to make time for hunting and gathering in the traditional sense in our busy schedules… we are able to just go shopping.

h-and-g-lg-1a9km9uThe places where we tend to shop for food are typically single category stores such as bakeries, butcheries, delicatessen stores, open air markets and supermarkets.  Nobody makes us favour one over the other, nobody stops us from mixing and mingling, nobody says we need to shop daily, nobody stops from just shopping fortnightly and, most certainly, nobody prevents us from placing whatever we fancy into those shopping trolleys. Naturally, there are constraints, such as the depth of our wallet, our dietary needs, distance between store and home, our mode of transport; but those factors not withstanding, life is pretty easy.  Our mind articulates a need and hey presto, we are down at the store, meeting our mind’s request.  Wouldn’t you agree that there is a far higher degree of certainty to that model than there is to the traditional style hunting & gathering lark?

So, if we are in agreement of that, why is it that not one week goes by where one or other consumer group gripes about the price we have to pay for our food?  Not shopping is not compatible with the structure of the post-industrial age we live in. Period.  The provision of shops where we can hunt & gather in a style more appropriate to today’s society is therefore a value add offer in its own right, regardless of what type of shopping experience we choose and prefer.

I would like you to think about that last sentence a bit before you read on….

Food shopping outlet price comparisons are a dime a dozen.  Everywhere.  And they all follow the same model… Supermarkets get the bash for being too expensive, green grocers tend to be cheaper but possibly lack range and discount stores sit somewhere in between.  Right?

Well, wrong.

Channel 4 in the UK published a price survey,  at the end of January 2013.  It makes for entertaining reading.

Firstly, their survey was based on three items only; “everyday fruit & vegetable items” they called them.  I can accept that description for Broccoli.  Pears are not really an everyday item and Coriander most certainly is not.

Secondly, the survey was conducted in “32 locations across the country”.  Hm, given the population density of the UK, this is certainly not representative by a long shot.

Thirdly, and here is a new aspect for us here down under, the three categories sampled were a

  • large supermarket,
  • an independent trader (greengrocer)/ local market,
  • a convenience store version of the large supermarket.

Well, this is one for the books.  The penetration rate of these shoebox supermarket mini versions is now such that they come under the spotlight of the price nazis consumer rights media.

I shall leave you to read the survey results in your own good time but, for me, the issue boils down to this:  what price is reasonable for convenience?   We will pick that theme up again in a little while.





What Value Do We Put On Fruit?

New Zealand Apples, by Edward Cole, ca. 1925-1935. Alexander Turnbull Library. Eph-E-FRUIT-1930s-01

New Zealand Apples, by Edward Cole, ca. 1925-1935. Alexander Turnbull Library. Eph-E-FRUIT-1930s-01

Apples for 9 cents in Hastings.  It does not get much cheaper than that.  What do we think?  Right or wrong?  Well, actually both.  Consumers will, of course, be happy.  Cheap fruit, hurray, like the good old days. All the ancient  images come to mind. Families consisting of Mum, Dad and the two kids, living on their quarter acre paradise, spending the weekends in the garden….to quote Tui Breweries…”Yeah Right”.

What a load of crock.  What did the consumer say interviewed in the paper?  “I get the good ones out and use them for juicing…”  Oh yeah, what state are the other ones at then?  Yes, supermarkets based in a key production area should use their buying power to offer consumers good deals.  And if there is an association between store owner and orchardist – even better.  But to offer fruit where the best of the lot is just good enough for juicing to consumers who are looking for a genuinely better deal for their fresh fruit and veg is just a cheap stunt.  Bad move guys.  All this does is to bring the whole apple category into disrepute. Not good in the long term.  Not good at all.

Nectarine Thief Ordered To Pay $1.25 In Reparation

Eyeing The Fruit Stand John George Brown 1831-1913

Eyeing The Fruit Stand
John George Brown

Now I have heard it all.  To save me repeating myself, readers should start by checking out this link on the NZ Herald website before reading on.    Go on, do it now!

Done? Good!

Here we have a scallywag who thinks it is ok to wander into a New Plymouth supermarket and start eating the food on display, which happens to have been nectarines, on the basis that he had no money to pay for them.  The court case was heard in Kaitaia and  defence counsel claimed that her client had been living on the streets of Gisborne.

The first thing that comes to mind is that its a long way between New Plymouth, Kaitaia and Gisborne.  Several hundred kilometres in fact. And to cover this distance one needs money…. But we don’t have the money to pay for a nectarine?  The second thought is – do our courts really have nothing better to do than prosecute a young layabout who helped himself to one piece of fruit?  Court costs, judge’s salary, defence counsel’s  fees, the mind boggles.  The third tought  – there is a whole social argument hidden here in the trenches.  We are mammals which need to eat when we are hungry and drink when we are thirsty, otherwise we die.  Yet our societal structure has evolved to the extent that we actually need this artificial invention called money that drives the concept called trade in order to provide sustenance for ourselves.  Have we gone too far? And lastly – back to the commercial reality we are a part of, like it or not – what does the produce industry have to do to get consumers, including judges, to understand the true value of fruit?  $1.25 in reparation is quite ridiculous from that perspective.  All it will do is drive the message home that fruit is of very little value and its ok to help yourself.  I wonder what the sentence would have been  if Master Casford had opened a can of Coke instead?