A Merchandising Tool That Works:
Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, August 22, 2006
Stemilt has explored creating a carton in the past for everyday apple and pear shipping that would be decorative and striking on display, but the cost has always been too expensive to merit the effort. However, recent advancements in printing that have reduced costs allowed Stemilt to make the new cartons the standard.
Stemilt’s black carton with gold, white and cream accents will contain the company’s premium grades of conventional apples, and Stemilt will pack its select grades of conventional apples and pears in the gold and cream carton.
The cartons are handsome, and the color scheme is what is being used on many high-end gourmet food products. The design tie-in with the farmer both emphasizes that part of the Stemilt mission statement looks to generate returns back to the land and it ties in with consumer trust for farmers.
And, without a doubt there are places in the industry where they will be shown off. Some independent retailers are exceedingly innovative merchandisers, and they will use everything that looks good to make beautiful displays. Wholesale markets still have displays on the street, and buyers and executives walking through distribution centers and back rooms get influenced every day.
Just maybe, the packer and shipper’s own employees perform better when they have real pride in every box they ship because it is a beautiful package.
But as printing technology has changed and more beautiful and meaningful cartons are available, many chain retailers have not kept up. In order to achieve uniformity and consistency of design, chains are not taking advantage of the opportunity to increase sales by emphasizing seasonal variations and encouraging a connection between the consumer and the land.
In addition, change itself is often a motivator for purchase. If a consumer walks in and sees that this week there is a beautiful waterfall display of a produce item, and if the store uses these types of display to communicate excellent value, exceptional taste or a seasonal peak, the consumer will react. Then next week the department can emphasize a different item in a different way.
You can’t get the full effect of change if all you do is move stuff around on the same racks. You need to change the actual floor plan and thus physical appearance of the store every week.
And by the way, this is not just true of produce departments; variety in all departments can increase consumer interest and sales. Dairy departments tend to be these massively boring straight walls down the side of stores. The eyes glaze over at their predictability and uniformity.
Stemilt is making a good point for the industry here: Shippers can make much nicer cartons than ever before for a reasonable price. Now retailers need to step up to the plate and come up with plans to use this new merchandising tool.