On December 15, the California Avocado Commission’s Marketing Committee, which is comprised of California avocado grower and handler members, hosted its first meeting of the 2022-23 fiscal year. The virtual meeting, which was presided over by CAC Marketing Committee Chair Gary Caloroso, provided the Commission with an opportunity to discuss the upcoming California avocado season and share the top retail promotions of the previous season with attendees.
The meeting began with a discussion of California avocado and import estimates for the 2023 season, as well as other related topics. Carolyn Becker and David Anderson, both CAC retail marketing directors, then highlighted what they considered to be the top 10 corporate, California and Western region California avocado retail promotions of 2022. The highlights are as follows.
Kroger hosted an expansive California avocado program that took place in five divisions across Tier 1 Western markets. The promotions included ground-breaking Kroger private label avocado bags with prominent “California Grown” branding on it. More than 90,000 bags were loaded into the Kroger divisions: Ralphs, Fred Meyer, QFC, Smith’s and King Soopers. All but the latter were supported with digital coupons.
Walmart indicated they wanted to take their marketing game to a whole new level, targeting shoppers through their website. Thus, the retailer opted to use CAC’s engaging consumer marketing creative for advertising on their digital channels and utilized a variety of ad-serving tactics, including a “shop now” call to action. As a result, the program resulted in more than $1.5 million in traceable sales. Of those sales, pick-up and delivery options accounted for one third.
Sam’s Club also used CAC’s creative for a series of digital ads and “shop now” calls to action. Specifically, the retailer’s product page on the website showcased the California avocado story and paired it with an “add-to-cart” component. This tactic was complemented by a promotional email program as well. In total, the program delivered more than 5 million impressions and reached nearly 1 million households.
The Commission’s goal for Sprouts was to provide the locally grown retail team with a robust selection of California avocado branding to be implemented in California and Arizona. The retailer produced specific California display boxes and other assets, with impressive sales results.
Albertsons/Vons has long been a strong supporter of California avocados and this year was no exception. The retailer efficiently paired in-store California avocado bins with digital coupons for large size fruit (which were in distribution at that time). The Commission also ran a sales contest with the retailer that resulted in a 12 – 29% sales lift across various store locations.
Because Costco prefers offering large size avocados to its shoppers, and some Costco depots go through more avocado volume than can be fulfilled solely by the California avocado crop, the Commission isolated its programs to the Aurora, Colorado depot that services stores in Colorado and New Mexico. In addition, the promotions were limited to a specific time frame in June to be certain the California fruit received the lift benefits of the program. The retail program resulted in dollar and unit sales increases despite high retail prices.
The Commission developed a Hass and GEM California avocado sales contest for Albertsons/Safeway locations in Arizona with the locations doubling their display sizes during the contest. The retailer also saw strong redemption of digital coupons used for both Hass and GEM varieties of the California fruit.
Another long-time partner, Save Mart, participated in the CA GROWN April and June integrated programs, including an ad, CA GROWN bins and signage featuring California avocado grower Doug O’Hara on stanchion posters placed at the front of stores. This program, which focused on a locally grown message, resulted in sales lifts of 36 – 53%.
Nugget Markets fielded a brand-awareness-building program that included ads showcasing California avocado growing regions and promotions on a variety of fruit sizes, as well as conventional and organic fruit. In addition, prominent signage located at the front of stores featured California avocado recipe assets. The total cost of the program was minimal and included a GEM avocado feature in their Field Guide.
Bristol Farms ran a variety of California avocado programs including a sales and custom signage contest. Throughout the month of August, the retailer featured California avocados of all sizes and their house-made guacamole.
The CAC marketing team also showcased its direct retail branding efforts, which have become more sophisticated over time with digital and social communications reaching a range of targeted demographics. By providing retailers with California avocado content, the Commission helps ensure the fruit remains top of mind with consumers. CAC’s RMDs also shared examples of the five top direct retail branding programs, many of which featured California avocado growers. For example, Mollie Stone’s posted a video reel of California avocado grower Mike Sanders that was recorded by Zac Benedict, CAC online marketing director. To celebrate California Avocado Month, Gelson’s promoted California avocado grilling recipes and featured the Lyall family on their social channels. Raley’s featured California avocado recipes and signage showcasing grower Jamie Johnson as part of their Cinco de Mayo and California Avocado Month promotions. Albertsons/Vons/Pavilions shared their California avocado grove tour experience by posting picturesque images of the event on their digital channels. And Nugget Markets included a CAC “foodie FAQ” piece and the Mike Sanders’ video reel as part of their social postings.
Ultimately, the presentation provided attendees with insights into the diverse, targeted, creative and customized retail promotions of the 2022 season that most effectively drove demand for and loyalty to the California Avocados brand and increased sales of the fruit. — By the California Avocado Commission