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St. Joseph’s Professor Tells Us What We Can Learn About Marketing And Promotion From Non-Produce Categories 

Sean Coary
Assistant Professor of Food Marketing
Saint Joseph’s University

Q: It is exciting to learn that Saint Joseph’s University will be part of The New York Produce Show and Conference this year. Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background in the industry?

A: I have worked extensively with major online and brick-and-mortar retailers in the vitamin and supplement industry focusing on increasing brand equity and variety-seeking behavior. I am an expert in consumer behavior with a focus on branding related issues. Much of my research focuses on health and wellness, a key relatable context for the produce industry. 

Q: Can you elaborate on your research in this field?

A: My research investigates branding issues at both the firm and consumer levels. I examine key managerial issues such as brand extensions, brand synergies and consumers’ desires for seeking variety in the brands they choose. Additionally, my research identifies the key dimensions of brand authenticity as well as the quantifiable effects and process of authenticity. 

Q: What have you chosen as the topic of your presentation and why was this an issue you thought was an important one?

A: The presentation is on product packaging and point of sales promotional material. In the produce aisle, there is often a lack of signage and promotional material for fruits and vegetables besides pricing. This presentation investigates the effects of introducing additional promotional material at the point of purchase.  

Q: Can you provide a little preview of what your talk will encompass?

A: My talk will investigate various promotional strategies that brands can utilize at the point of sale and their effect on customers’ attitudes and evaluations.  

Q: Why is this something that is important to consider in today’s produce industry?

A: Few brands in the produce industry focus on store displays or additional marketing materials in the produce section. This talk is to identify key strategies the produce industry can take from other product categories and introduce them into the section.  

Q: Talk about some of the environmental factors that cause the shifts in shopper behavior.

A: Studies show that shopping behavior can be influenced by numerous factors including the time of day, day of the week, when you ate last, shopping with others or even the presence of other consumers in the aisle with you. As we see a focus on healthier eating, it is crucial to re-examine this research and apply it directly to the produce aisle.  

Q: What do you expect people will walk away with from your talk? How will it help them going forward?

A: Brands in other categories are exposing customers to a large amount of marketing and promotional material in the grocery store aisles. This talk focuses on how the produce section can learn from the best practices of brands in other categories.   

Q: What are you looking forward to most about attending the New York Produce Show and Conference overall?

A: The show provides an excellent opportunity for individuals from all steps of the supply chain to meet and discuss best practices for the industry. It really is a win-win scenario. As an academic and industry consultant, it is enjoyable to share our research to assist those in the industry.

Q: What do you expect to get out of the show?

A: It’s always helpful to hear the exact problems that producers and retailers are experiencing in the supply chain. Often as researchers, we only hear or see parts of the problems that companies are facing. This is a great opportunity to listen to the industry to find out the challenges they are facing so our research can help address those problems.

Q: Why do you feel that an event like this, with a captive brain trust of industry leaders, is an important thing?

A: When people come together, ideas are shared. Many brands focus on their individual identity and their competitors in their space, either apples or lettuce. However, we can learn a great deal from listening and talking with others from other product categories as many of the challenges a company faces is shared in other categories. This show is a great opportunity to not only uncover new industry trends, but to listen and gain knowledge from others in different category spaces.



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