How Driscoll’s Keeps Sweet as Grocery and Advertising Dollars Move Online


Driscoll’s, the century-old fresh fruit company, is no stranger to change. But switching to online ordering is risky for the brand.

Driscoll’s works with geneticists and fruit growers to perfect the tastiest berry varieties, and their sales and marketing department brings the fruit to market. But his seed marketing and publishing machine is built entirely around that moment of selection, when a buyer picks up their exceptional berries in the produce section.

Online shoppers only see many similar photos of strawberries, raspberries, etc. – questioning the millions Driscoll’s spends on R&D to develop the juiciest berry.

Driscoll’s is working hard to convince grocers and online ordering services – namely Instacart – that they should think of their online storefront more like a traditional brick and mortar store, said Frances Dillard, vice president of marketing. brand and products.

Products are a priority in brick-and-mortar stores, as people who start their buying journey with products on average end up with larger baskets than shoppers who start with any other category. (Someone who buys clothes or electronics, say, is there to buy that and go, not to do a big grocery store and run errands).

But Driscoll’s needs to redouble its efforts to grab the attention of online shoppers, working with retail partners to convey important product information online. For example, an online delivery left outside or even at a cool store can make a big difference in the quality of the fruit, and whether that customer will order products online again, Dillard said.

AdExchanger sat down with Dillard on how Driscoll’s uses data in its supply chain and how new grocery shopping habits have changed the company’s media mix.

AdExchanger: How does a production company like Driscoll’s approach data collection?

FRANCES DILLARD: People would be quite surprised at what we measure, down to the actual seed, before it even hits the market.

When we talk about data and what we measure, we focus on all the ways you can measure flavor throughout our supply chain, from R&D to consumer. So, for example, where does the flavor break down? And then, how do we use this supply chain data to feed it back to key stakeholders?

Seems like the data is really all about the freshness of the fruit, as opposed to consumers or users, as marketers generally think.

Well, that is really the challenge.

When COVID first hit, Amazon and others were so busy moving dry goods and trying to stack and fill shelves, that our berries sometimes didn’t go through the system and supply chain enough. quickly. And we have seen a deterioration in quality. People were having trouble with e-commerce orders. Unlike an apple or a banana, where there is a large margin of error in how quickly you get it to a customer, a raspberry is probably the most perishable item.

That’s why we focus on flavor and flavor quality.

Since taking online ordering a step further, we have ensured that our cold chain [the produce industry term for the transport from refrigerated delivery truck to a store freezer, to cold shelves] offers this freshness. We literally print posters for store managers to hang in the back room or break room, and it has lessons on how to keep berries fresher.

Even with click-and-collect orders, we found significant differences in how quickly store associates send orders to the customer, or where the order is in the store and for how long. We try to share our ideas with customers based on where they stand in this ecommerce strategy and how they handle the products.

These are important factors in whether that customer is ordering fresh berries online next time.

Has the media mix changed over the past year, especially with more people ordering groceries online?

It’s a traditional media mix. Especially for The Sweetest Batch, which are our raspberries and strawberries.

With the Rosé Berries, we are really capitalizing on the social media trend. So we’ve been very active with our Instagram stories and on our own channels. It is a good investment.

We also did a lot of programmatic advertising, which our digital agency manages through Amobee. And there we go straight to people to drive to chains like Instacart and Kroger. This is the new investment in the marketing mix.

And we are expanding our target audience. For Rosé Berries, it’s the millennials who drive targeting. I would say that, generationally, millennial moms and younger consumers are more open to the new flavors of berries. And these are also often those who order online with a higher level of convenience. Older customers tend to want, see and choose the raspberries and strawberries they know.

Ordering online must be a challenge for Driscoll’s, where so much R&D goes into creating the most attractive berries, but online it’s pretty much all the same fruit images.

You are right. It’s an impulsive decision in the store. Normally in the store, Driscoll’s is the first fruit you see in the produce section, and it is possible to see which fruit is the freshest and judge it. The merchandising is awesome.

I think the visual is essential. Since we built the brand and store confidence, Driscoll’s has been in a good position with e-commerce.

If the product image is a great Driscoll’s branding image, that makes a huge difference. We’re working hard on our tech stack just to make sure that a brand image is shown when someone first searches for products online, regardless of what platform they are using.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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