« Advertising for fruit and vegetables is globally inexistent »
Marketing of Foods: Opportunities for Fruits & Vegetables
The foods that are advertised are certainly not the foods that people should eat; rather they are the “noncore” foods manufactured and marketed by large food companies. This sobering conclusion is evident in all three papers in this special issue. In the fi rst paper, Watson, Pettigrew, Chapman, and Hughes show that there are 100 television commercials for unhealthy foods for each commercial advertising fruits or vegetables. In the second paper, Thomas shows that unhealthy foods are particularly likely to be advertised in and around sport events, leveraging a “health halo”. The third article, by Martin-Biggers, Quick, and Byrd-Bredbenner, offers some hope, though. It shows that food retailers, unlike manufacturers, allocate space on the fi rst page of their circulars roughly in the order of the types of food that people eat—even though still not in the order of what people should eat.
These results highlight a big opportunity for fruits and vegetables. As explained in a recent review paper, the same marketing strategies that are used for unhealthy foods work equally well for fruits and vegetables, and may work even better because they are still so rare in this category. Here are the key recommendations to make it happen. First, think beyond advertising and consider all marketing tools. For example, sales promotions don’t just increase the sales of fruits and vegetables in the short term. They have also been found to increase long-term consumption by developing a taste for these products. Second, think beyond promoting health benefi ts. They are not as motivating as people say they are and they are often associated with degraded taste or inconvenient preparation. Instead, consider promoting a related benefi t like environmental sustainability, which is an identity marker for today’s younger generation. Third, partner with retailers. They have a strong incentive to promote fruits and vegetables which contribute so much to the perceived freshness and overall appeal of their stores, plus they are eager to reduce the maddeningly high waste in these aisles. Finally, consider partnering at the industry level, just like the United States dairy industry has done in the long-running “Got Milk” campaign or the diamond industry with the “Diamonds are forever” campaign.