Don’t ‘Coast’ Through Summer Selling Season

Don Harris - Retail Perspective

This season offers many opportunities for additional promotional activity utilizing not only the abundance of produce but the opportunities to educate and to engage with customers.

On many occasions throughout the years there have been times during the key summer selling season where results from the previous‭ ‬week did not live up to expectations and there were concerns in the boardroom as to why sales didn’t live up to projections‭. ‬Often times the produce team offered suggestions of special seasonal promotions to help spur sales‭. ‬Management would reply‭, ‬“It’s summertime‭, ‬you don’t need any special promotions‭.‬”‭ ‬Once again management proves to us they‭ ‬“just don’t get it”‭!‬

don-harris-retail-perspectiveJust because it’s the summer selling season‭ ‬‮—‬‭ ‬and produce is in abundant supply and available in peak quality and flavor‭ ‬‮—‬‭ ‬that is no reason to‭ ‬let up on promotional activity‭. ‬In fact‭, ‬this season offers many opportunities for additional promotional activity utilizing not‭ ‬only the abundance of produce but the opportunities to educate and to engage with customers‭. ‬

Summer is the best season to utilize the assets you don’t normally have available during other parts of the year‭. ‬These resources include utilization of local farmers and growers to interact with your customers and to‭ ‬“show off”‭ ‬their produce‭. ‬They can share stories as well as the process that they go through to harvest these beautiful fruits and vegetables‭. ‬Farmers can provide the‭ ‬“human”‭ ‬touch for the consumer to relate to the person who grew the product they are buying and consuming‭. ‬The farmers and growers are‭ ‬all too happy‭, ‬in most cases‭, ‬to participate in such activities in stores near their farms and in other more urban areas‭. ‬They have a great story to tell‭, ‬and in most cases they tell it very well‭.‬

This type of activity can also help you overcome some of the challenges from other methods of retail‭. ‬Many of us faced the challenge of local farmers markets and felt the impact of sales in the operation‭. ‬By engaging in this type of activity with local farmers and growers you take a page out of the farmers market playbook and provide your retail establishment a similar atmosphere to that of a Saturday morning farmers market‭. ‬

simple act of bringing growers into the store to explain their story and promote their products levels the playing field with the farmers market in terms of perception‭. ‬As we all know‭, ‬perception is reality‭. ‬The farmers markets enjoy a perception of freshness and local flavor while in general regular retail grocery stores do not have this advantage‭. ‬The simple action of bringing growers and farmers into the store helps to‭ ‬“cultivate”‭ ‬the same perception for your stores‭. ‬No amount of regular advertising or television ads can affect perception as much as the simple act of allowing farmers and growers access to the customer and the customer the opportunity to learn from the producers‭.‬

The second form of retail that is addressed by utilizing this type of event marketing is the online grocery shopping service that offers convenience as its main selling point‭. ‬By showing the relationship between the producers and the products you are selling in your store‭, ‬you‭ ‬“breathe life”‭ ‬into this retail activity‭. ‬Online grocery competitors simply don’t have the methods to impact the perception of freshness that these types of events can produce for your produce departments‭. ‬This activity illustrates a major selling point by simply showing that there is more to the product than just quick delivery and ease of access‭. ‬It provides‭, ‬once again‭, ‬that‭ ‬“human”‭ ‬touch to the sale of fresh produce‭. ‬This has proven to be an ineffective way to combat the competitive challenge presented by these online shopping services‭.‬

This type of event marketing is‭, ‬by no means‭, ‬the only one to utilize‭. ‬Over the years‭, ‬successful retailers utilized promotions‭ ‬such as‭ ‬“Summer Berry Patch‭,‬”‭ ‬“Melon Mania‭,‬”‭ ‬“Grape Extravaganza‭,‬”‭ ‬and‭ ‬“Create a Summer Salad‭,‬”‭ ‬just to mention a few‭, ‬to further stimulate sales‭. ‬These types of promotions are limited only by your imagination and creativity in combining the abundant key summer items into enticing themes that promote this peak availability of quality‭, ‬full of flavor‭ ‬fruits and vegetables‭.‬

Utilizing these types of events also helps to promote the perception by your customers that there is something different every time they enter your department‭. ‬It is a well-documented fact that this‭ ‬“discovery”‭ ‬perception drives customers to purchase products they may not be familiar with because of the enticing promotional activity‭. ‬This type of strategy‭ ‬“flies in the face”‭ ‬of convention with a focus on efficiencies and cost control‭. ‬However‭, ‬it has been proven over and over again that this type of‭ ‬activity generates the kind of sales and excitement is worth far more than just a few dollars that is saved by being more efficient and practical‭. ‬So if you are going through a period of lackluster sales this summer‭, ‬you might want to try this strategy‭. ‬I’m sure you won’t be disappointed and on the contrary will be thoroughly satisfied with the results.