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USA Pears remains nimble as ever during pandemic

usapears11 Just as COVID-19 has altered much of daily life, so has it challenged long-standing retail promotions strategies. In the midst of ever-changing conditions, the team from USA pears has remained nimble and been quick to deploy innovative new strategies. “The crisis accelerated many trends that were already happening at retail and in consumer shopping habits,” stated Kevin Moffitt, president and chief executive officer of USA Pears. “In addition, retailers instituted new programs which we embraced in order to keep pears relevant and top of mind with consumers. While we don’t know what the new normal will be in the upcoming season, we will be building on many of our new, successful promotions and pivots while watching trends and adapting to meet new challenges and opportunities.”

Some of the challenges the industry faced beginning in March, included limited or curtailed retail ad flyers, no in-store sampling, and reduced number of produce items carried at retail. Additionally, according to Moffitt consumers reduced the number of shopping trips, spending less time in stores and increasing their purchases online. “Our biggest challenge for a high impulse purchase item like pears as people move to more online shopping and spend less time in stores is how to get pears in front of shoppers,” elaborated Moffitt. “So instead of sampling and large colorful displays in up front locations grabbing consumer’s attention in stores, we have moved to successful digital activities.” Banner ads on retail sites have also been effective and USA Pears plans on expanding on those ads this season. Many of the ads direct people to shoppable recipes on usapear.org where consumers can buy all the ingredients at the click of a mouse.

Due to the fact that the moratorium on in-store sampling will continue into the foreseeable future, the organization plans on expanding digital sampling programs. “A successful trial was conducted with Walmart in June where we launched a two-day, in-store secondary display program in 250 Walmart locations featuring 3lb. Green Anjou bagged pears, beautiful graphics and a scannable QR code to link to a short, educational ripening video,” said Moffitt. This is a new program for Walmart and USA Pears was one of the first organizations to participate as an alternative to sampling, positioning pear bags as a grab-and-go item now that shoppers are looking to shorten their time in stores.

Limitations on in-store sampling have affected export promotions as well. “In Mexico, we faced these restrictions during the last 4 months of the season and we successfully pivoted to other means of retail support — online retail banner ads, in-store radio advertising and doing more social media promotions with influencers,” added Jeff Correa, international marketing director with USA Pears. “For the upcoming season, we plan to continue that strategy into the new season and extend it to other export markets where we may be facing similar restrictions on in-store sampling activities.  

The 2020 Northwest pear season is expected to start in a great place with imported pears finishing up early and an early start to a smaller California crop. USA Pears anticipates retailers will switch to Northwest pears sooner than ever. “The new season will bring exciting digital communication focus for USA Pears with expanded digital outreach,” said Kathy Stephenson, marketing communications director with USA Pears, saying the organization will expand on its innovative digital sampling experiences to share with consumers and invest in online shopping programs at retail to capture shoppers where they make their purchase decision. “We will also continue to create ins-pear-ation for consumers preparing meals at home with on-trend recipe and videos, driving shoppers to our USAPears.org website where our more than 400 recipes are actually shoppable.” 

USA Pears will also ramp up its messaging around storing ripe pears in the refrigerator to extend shelf life as shoppers reduce their number of shopping trips and stock up on healthy foods for their families. The promotion plan includes #PearPizza takeover in October, World Pear Day on December 5, holiday baking and entertaining with pears throughout the Winter holidays, and will bringing back the fun collaboration #WhatsInYourFruitBowl with other fruit organizations in March.

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