Until recently, consumers of fresh fruit and vegetables perceived the value of what they bought based on three basic aspects:
The price at which they are sold. Depending on what it costs you, you rate whether you are getting “more value” or not. In the traditional sense, “the cheaper it is the more value we get.”
The quantity that defines the price (in the case of a sealed package or the size of individual fruit that can be purchased separately). Although, in this traditional view, “the more the better.”
And the famous quality factor; a concept that each one of us define differently and which is therefore difficult to specify. Each supermarket chain in its product specifications defines the minimum requirements acceptable for the product and the differences between chains and countries are quite significant.
However, life changes and as consumers we alter the way we buy to meet our changing needs.
The traditional perception of value in fresh fruit and vegetables is disappearing fast and now only remains in the group of hardliners and more traditional consumers, which, while it still represents 25% of the population (in Europe) is changing in leaps and bounds and all this despite the recent economic crisis.
Therefore, I venture to propose a redefinition of the value perceived by consumers in our products based on three major factors that determine, to a great extent, the total value but are conditioned by three others (see chart below).
In this revised approach to the traditional perception of value, the price is still a decisive factor, but now the cheapest product is not always the one that provides most value to the consumer.
In fact, after the introduction of some lines of “budget/basic products” on the shelves of supermarkets, thus downgrading the standard product, the perceived value has been destroyed and less is sold compare to pre-crisis times.
However, other more expensive (or rather, higher priced) products are perceived as better (or rather, higher value or fair value).
Quantity as a “value factor” of the product is also evolving. In the past, the more quantity of product and the bigger the fruit, the better. However at present, due to the emergence of a large number of single-person and two-person households, the reality is more multifaceted.
The right amount for my daily or weekly consumption and for what I want to use it for is the amount that gives value to the product (to the reference “in supermarket terms”)
The experience that a product provides to the consumer has replaced quality as the third major value factor.
The quality factor was too broad and difficult to put in perspective (at least for the consumer). Attempts to objectify it have ended up in a technical specifications file that defines sizes, colours, absence of marks and shelf life used only by professionals.
Meanwhile the consumer when asked about quality inadvertently is now talking about the experience he had had with the product, “it has a great smell”, “it has a very pleasant taste”, “it’s soft”, “they’re really healthy”, “they hydrate you”, “it’s diuretic “,”it’s easy and quick to cook”, etc.
That is, the experience in the consumption of the product builds up its value. And that experience can be very real (“taste”) or almost completely imaginary (“they hydrate you”), but it is still a powerful perception that confers a significant part of the value.
Therefore, we must also focus on understanding how to adapt (us and our products) to the consumption experience of the end consumer.
Of the other three factors that define (but less) the value proposition of our products we find:
Quality, construed in the traditional way we have outlined above.
Need. Do we have a product that is “necessary” for the consumer? Or conversely, can they easily do without it. Not forgetting that “custom is the mother of necessity.”
And the type of consumption. Best defined as type of consumption and time of consumption. Product for cooking, snack, on-the-go, to lose weight, to nourish, for breakfast, etc.
The value perception of consumers has changed, but producers, distributors and marketers continue to work insistently and primarily with the traditional scheme (price-quantity-quality).
It is necessary to evolve and talk the “same language” as consumers again. Let’s see how long we take…