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The role of data in increasing sales volume 

Angie Thomas insights to grow

Why should I choose your apples (INSERT X PRODUCE ITEM) vs. the 90 other apples (INSERT X PRODUCE ITEM)?”

A great – yet layered – question and, as former national brand activation manager for Envy and Jazz apples, one I often was asked to maintain business, by decision makers of all levels and across all departments.

No longer do the answers “because you’ve carried it for years, it performed well last year on ad or I’ve known you for 20 years!” apply. I’m sure most suppliers can relate.

Today, customers – and all responsible for produce landing on shelves – deserve need-based, insightful, digestible and actionable answers to drive brand and category sales.

Here’s how a results-driven business conversation might go – with the right quantitative and qualitative tools – to answer that question, verifiably and simply:

Robust and aligned data is essential – field-to-fork sets – as is the ability to meaningfully question, analyze and integrate it.

We strengthen register rings, via sales-driving placement (velocity increases X with two facings vs. one), targeted ads that deliver X increase and shoppers with purchasing power who prefer our taste vs. mainstream varieties (look at the frequency and basket size of our shopper vs. general category!). With a thoughtful approach, we’ll accelerate your category volume and sales,” I often was able to say with data-backed confidence.

But data only tells half of the produce story. You need distinctive and relevant qualitative knowledge – your product’s unique story – to complement the data.

“Our products are grown and shipped to a higher standard, our seed breeders and family of farmers having been growing – and adapting – since the ‘70s, we purchased our own truck fleet…we offer year-round availability and are non-GMO.

AND – we are gluten free!”

Once the analysis and product differentiators are established, the symbiotic next step is action; “what” and “why” largely are useless without the “who, how, when and where.” That’s when a targeted, dynamic and hands-off (for the decision maker) shopper marketing plan evolves.

“We’re focused on the “4Ps” – the right products, price, placement, and promotions – and appropriate channels. Knowing our primary shopper, we’ll lean on tactics to drive space, utilize meaningful retailer programs to engage, ensure we’re prominent on eCommerce channels and use price infrequently to drive profitable volume. To round out the marketing plan, we’ll layer in measurable goals, a volume/price calendar, trade and shopper education and useful incentives.

We will manage it all, and keep you up to date, as needed.”

Effectively woven together, you have a simple – yet purposeful, “shovel ready” and measurable – 360° plan, strategically covering data, industry, logistics, sales marketing: and all needs and opportunities.

We are in an unprecedented state of change – terrifying to electrifying – but certainly opportunistic.

The change variables are mind blowing:

  • Logistical & economic challenges
  • Emerging choices on the shelves, produce & beyond
  • More shelves
  • Evolving growing methodologies
  • Shoppers’ path to purchases & needs
  • Insights & inputs

These can be overwhelming elements to consider, on top of your day to day. Simply, it comes down to problem solving the “who what, where, when, why and how.”

The ability to effectively distill various information sets and integrate for a turnkey plan. Simultaneously, leaning on produce foundations; sustaining our farmers, enabling healthier diets, trust and winning at the shelf.

So, next time a customer asks, “why should I choose your apples (INSERT X PRODUCE ITEM) vs. the 90 other apples (INSERT X PRODUCE ITEM)?” …

…you’ll have a well-rounded – yet targeted – answer. Because, you only have 15 minutes from buyers; and less than 30 seconds from shoppers.


Angie Thomas (formerly Hanson) has 15 years of produce industry experience, including strategic sales/business development, retail activation, category analysis, brand marketing and PR/communications. Thomas currently runs her own consulting company - Insights to Grow - and works as a retail sales consultant for the National Mango Board.