Think about benefits rather than attributes

In the average produce department, more than 300 items may be on display ranging from apples to zucchini. For an interesting exercise, try going through the alphabet!  Beets, celery, daikon, eggplant….you get the picture. 

Yet consumers often arrive at the grocery store with a general list for fruit and vegetables. How do you tempt consumers to try something different such as kohlrabi or icicle radishes? When you understand why they buy, you can really make sure you deliver. It is not just quality; there are many factors that influence the purchase decision.

We have developed a process called CART to help sell more products. There are four essential ingredients in this recipe for success:



Alignment with your customers

Retail plan to sell your products

Trust with consumers and customers


Why do consumers buy?

Ask yourself the fundamental question: why do they buy? It can really help your business. Understanding the motivation for a consumer to pick up your produce over another is so important.  When you can articulate that they buy for specific reasons, you can focus your business to deliver in these areas and perhaps stand out from your competition.

Do the research and do not assume you know why people buy or perhaps why they do not buy. Watch consumers in the store and assess what they are doing as they stand in front of the category. Every product has many attributes to be considered – freshness, local origins, colour, texture, phytonutrients, etc. 


Benefits vs. attributes

Consumers usually buy because the product benefits them in some way. It could be that your product is an integral ingredient in a special or favourite recipe. It could also be that your packaging is environmentally friendly and that is more important than other attributes.

When I ask suppliers -- “Why do consumers buy your products?” -- I get some standard answers. Most start with ‘they like it’ or they start to list attributes of the product. Most often, consumers do not buy for attributes; they buy for benefits. 

What does fresh produce do for them? A snack for kids might include healthy ingredients. That’s an attribute but parents buy the ingredient because their kids will eat it and it is good for them. That is the benefit that motivates them to buy.

There are better answers to the question than simply consumers like the product.

If you are going to build programs and campaigns to get your product moving off the shelf, highlight the benefits to consumers. This strategy will reduce consumer dependency on price. Your customers turn to price because it is what they know. Give them options and help them see opportunities. 

Consumers are changing very quickly. The reason they buy today might be different than it was five years ago. One example of this change is packaging. The benefit to consumers is that people want to feel they are doing the right thing for the environment. It is influencing buying decisions where it never did before.

I had a supplier tell me last week they received a consumer comment that “we love your product but we are not going to buy it anymore because your packaging is not as environmentally friendly as your competition.” 

Develop a list of product benefits and determine how important they are to the consumers you have identified as the target market. No doubt price (they see value), quality (it performs when they get it home or tastes great in a recipe), convenience (it is easy to use or saves them time) need to be a part of your list. 

Consider other benefits as well such as how it makes them feel about the environment or that local ingredients might taste better or that they are a good parent feeding their children healthy products that they like to eat. Try to prioritize the list and share it with everyone in your business. Once you know the most important benefits to getting the sale, you can make sure you deliver every time.

If you have any questions about understanding why consumers buy your products please give me a call at (902) 489-2900 or send me an email at   




New frozen desserts

You can always learn from items in other categories. Halo is a new frozen dessert getting considerable shelf space in stores. The company has designed packaging that really stands out with a gold lid that catches the light in the frozen food cases. When you take the top off the package it makes you smile. 

The manufacturers designed the package size carefully. They determined their target market was likely to want to eat the whole tub and they see it as a manageable indulgence. Here’s their pitch --  80 calories and six grams of sugar in 125ml compared to Haagen Dazs Butter Pecan with 355 calories and 21 grams of sugar in the same size. You can see where their target market would buy into the benefits they are getting from Halo over their competition.


Publish date: 
Friday, August 2, 2019

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