Data driving fresh produce sales strategies
Florette's research has helped boost the entire salad category

Data driving fresh produce sales strategies

Gill McShane

Three case studies provided to us by Kantar WorldPanel UK demonstrate the power of research in correcting declining sales or enhancing sales of particular fresh produce items at retail

With the UK shopper landscape having changed for good, Kantar WorldPanel UK claims data is now “paramount” to being able to react to the shift in consumer purchasing and eating habits by understanding why consumers do what they do.

1. Florette

Prepared salad brand Florette has successfully used data compiled with the support of Kantar to drive growth across the entire salad category in the UK.

£600m – Value of salad category in UK

Through research, including store observations, fixture interviews, focus groups, hall tests, discussion groups and accompanied shopping trips, the firm got to know salad shoppers and was able to fill in the gaps about what it knew.

Florette found that bag bounce, moisture content and leaf vitality were the key influencers for shoppers at the point of purchase. It also discovered there were several groups of salad buyers or non buyers: avoiders, accepters, selectors, adorers, and addicts.

We really got to understand who buys what and where, and whether they really enjoyed salad or not,” comments Florette’s category controller Tony Walsh, who adds that the company then shared that information with the salad industry as a whole, without an agenda.

“We’ve just updated the panel again and learned a heap of new stuff, including who’s moved between profiles,” he continues. “Fantastically, the percentage of shoppers who enjoy salad has increased.”

Florette is now using its shopper profiles to measure category performance, understand why initiatives work or not, enhance new product development and test advertising aimed at consumers.

Ultimately, Walsh claims this bespoke approach to shopper segmentation has changed how Florette operates as a business and how it engages with retailers.

“We have put the salad category at the heart of what we do,” Walsh says. “It’s changed the questions retailers ask us, given them more trust in what we’re saying; it’s changed what retailers think of us as a company and it has strengthened our relationships.”

2. Potato Council 

Using the example of the potato category, Chris Cowan, consumer insight director at Kantar, says sales in recent years were in long-term decline; falling 8% in the 52 weeks to 25 May 2014 and accelerating.

65.8% of consumers were buying fewer potatoes

However, the majority of respondents to a Kantar survey of over 1,850 people said they believed they were buying the same volume of potatoes, meaning it was an unconscious decision to buy less.

“In fact, they were buying other carbohydrates like bread, pasta and rice which are very brand heavy categories that offer deep promotions,” Cowan explains.

“There was also a lack of convenience in potatoes that was acting as a barrier to people making potato-based dishes,” he adds.

“Consumers didn’t know which variety of potato to buy either, i.e. if it was best suited for mashing or roasting etc.”

£1bn – Value of potato category in UK

With 94% of the population buying within the category at least once every year, the Potato Council set out to increase consumption by using these findings from Kantar’s research.

Potato Council’s action plan

  • Focus on convenience: combine product innovation and communication around potatoes being quick and easy-to-cook (e.g. 30-minute meals).
  • Promote the nutritional benefits: offer packaging and promotional campaigns to generate widespread awareness of the many health benefits of potatoes. Plus remind shoppers that potatoes are tasty, not simply a base for healthy meals.
  • Use shopper signposting: engage shoppers at the fixture, interrupting their normal behaviour and encouraging them to reconsider potatoes. Using cooked dish imagery on pack and in promotional literature to reconnect them with the end product.
  • Increase the number of potato dishes in the weekly meal repertoire: inspire shoppers with new recipe ideas.
  • Unite as an industry to address the issues: push out consistent messages about the benefits of potatoes to help move the category forward. Potato Council has also presented the research to major retailers with their suppliers.


In doing so, Kantar claims sales volume in the potato category has since returned to growth in the UK.

View the full report here.

3. Pink Lady

The Pink Lady apple brand is another example of how responding to the detail in the data can enhance sales, even if your product is already over-performing in a category that, as a whole, is experiencing long-term decline.

“You can’t easily expand the volume of meals, but you can tap into popular consumption trends,” points out Amir Jalaly, another of Kantar’s consumer insight directors, with products like Pink Lady in mind.

“Healthy snacking is really growing in the UK – one in every five times we eat is now a snack. Of all eating occasions only snacking is truly volume expandable.”

            88% of UK consumers buy apples once every 2 weeks

According to Kantar, 31% of people in the UK snack on Pink Lady apples both as part of their five-a-day consumption target and also because of the fruit’s health benefits.

With that information in its armoury, Coregeo – the organisation responsible for the marketing of Pink Lady in the UK – focused more of its attention on marketing apples as a healthy snack item.

“We wanted to unlock the snacking opportunities for Pink Lady apples,” Jalaly explains. “Apples are perfect because you don’t need to open a bag or a punnet, you can even carry an apple around in your pocket.”

At first, Coregeo’s communication focused on the low calorie content of apples but it discovered that the message was not quite right.

“We found that people were not that bothered about counting calories anymore – they had shifted to an all-round nutritious lifestyle, so we changed the messaging on the website,” Jalaly states.

Then, Coregeo focused on convincing consumers to eat Pink Lady apples more in order to increase the frequency of consumption.

Using the knowledge that consumers eat most often from their fridges (because of higher visibility than their cupboards or freezers) Pink Lady developed a cardboard tray that fits perfectly in the fridge.

Food has 42 chances per week to stand out in the fridge

“Approximately seven or eight times out of 10 we keep our snacks in the fridge,” Jalaly says, adding that the fridge is also the place in the kitchen with the highest amount of traffic.

“It wasn’t really about convincing consumers to snack more on Pink Lady apples but making the fruit more visible and making it easier to keep them in the fridge.”

Since then, Kantar claims Pink Lady has seen some “truly incremental gains’, simply by changing where the consumer puts their apples.



The Latest from PBUK

Subscribe to PBUK!

Get regular produce industry insights, sign up for our email newsletter below.