The State of Produce Marketing in the Year of Analysis

Marketing professionals know the best weapon in their arsenal is measurement. KPI and ROI are two of the most frequently used acronyms in the marketing lexicon. Many other tools are written about, pontificated, and swooned over, particularly when they’re new, and no one else is using them yet.  Regardless of the strategy or tool, if you can’t measure it, how can you prove the value of the effort?

Fresh produce is a fast-paced, 24/7 wheeling and dealing business. Many marketers in the industry rely on an annual marketing plan, either created internally or at one point written by an outside firm and referenced year over year.

Planting and harvesting seasons don’t change, so that annual plans can be reliable given these consistent factors. We review trade show dates; we get excited to return to our favorite cities, we make sure we mark “commodity of the day” this year because we miss it every time! We align with R&D, plan new product launches – usually around the tried-and-true industry events – then we put the plan away and begin another cycle. This oversimplified version of the critical marketing planning process illustrates that it becomes habitual, and we are creatures of habit.

Enter 2020; the year of disruption, followed by 2021; the year confusion and more disruption. As we head into 2022, we’re prepared for success in an environment doing its best to ensure otherwise.

Related Article: PMA, United Fresh Reveal Name and Leadership of New Association

COVID has proven it’s not the only factor throwing our annual plans into a tailspin as Mother Nature gives it a run for its money. The two largest trade associations in our industry have announced a merger after a century of operating separately. Neither has been able to host an in-person trade show in two full calendar years. Yet somehow, the business has bounced back from early-onset disruption, and we’re hitting our marketing stride again.

Entering the new year, we now have a benchmark to measure our success. We can look back at 2020 and 2021 and all the different campaigns and activations we relied on to ensure the continuity of our relationships and revenue.

As we measure and assess, our 2022 plans become more robust and more actionable. We can be more strategic with where and how we spend and be better prepared for future unknowns.

What this looks like in practice should take the following into account:

  • Differentiate Leverage smaller events with bigger ideas. As you plan your next 12-months of travel, trade shows and buyer engagements, go ahead and look at the events you’ve already attended, then take a second look at the events you don’t attend. It’s time to review those decisions, analyze the events and explore what aspects of your findings might present new opportunities for your business. Looking through a new lens not only will uncover new opportunities, but also present ways to differentiate your business from all those around you.
  • Go DigitalThe ultimate measurement tool. Marketing plans need to be agile. No longer can we expect to execute the strategy we put in place for 6-months from today just as we planned it ­– we don’t know what curve ball the universe may throw at us before then. Digital is the most pliable opportunity for changing direction on the fly. Put your strategy in place, execute on your digital plan, then – and this is most important – measure, analyze, measure, adjust, measure, measure, measure. Digital allows for this flexibility and is critical to maintaining continuity in messaging when, and if, all else goes sideways.
  • Dream BIGEvery marketer has that one “If I only had the money, I’d…” dream for their brand. As tens of thousands of dollars have become available over the past two years for reallocation, marketers are bringing their dreams to life. Never has there been a better time to execute that Big Hairy Audacious Goal to attract buyers, engage consumers, grow your brand, sell more product, or flex your creative muscle. Dream big and execute bigger.