There are around 600 items in an average retail produce department in the US today, each vying for the consumer’s attention. This is double the number of fruits and veg displayed just 25 years ago. Each of those 600 items is vying for retail real estate: position, linear display space and ultimately, the shopper’s attention.
Produce sales are heavily impulse driven and retailers use subtle psychological tools to help increase sales, prompting consumers to buy things that aren’t on their list or their minds when they enter the store. Retailers use a variety of techniques to help entice sales, including front end-cap positioning, using displays with false bottoms for a bountiful impression, creating beautiful color breaks by placing complimentary-colored products next to each other, displaying items for making salads next to each other, and tempting shoppers with aromas from the various produce items.
Retailers also know the direction that most shoppers take when shopping in their stores (most make a right hand turn and stay in the perimeter for the most part, which is why you see all the perishable items such as dairy, meat, seafood and produce in the perimeter of the store). So product positioning is very important as shoppers navigate the store’s real estate.
Real estate in a produce department is similar to real estate in the housing market. For example, the bountiful front displays or end caps are the “view properties,” while items placed in a small basket on the back wall are definitely in the low rent district. A shopper sees the front displays right away, but would need to seek out the small, less prominent displays that do not scream for attention and impulse sales.
All commodity commissions, as well as private companies, are vying for the best real estate for their product. Add to this the retailers’ own private labels that they want to put in a prominent location, and you have some tough competition for the most valuable “property.” For a heavy impulse item like pears, it is important to be vying for that space year around.
As you shop in your local stores or around the country, keep an eye out for the ebb and flow of the produce department and see how item displays increase, decrease and change location throughout the year depending upon the items in season. The produce department goes through more changes than any other department at retail. It can be interesting to take notice of how the produce managers are moving items around throughout the year, assigning the available real estate.
All pears all the time, Kevin