Consumer demand has grown for watermelon, particularly fresh-cut, over the past year, said Stephanie Barlow, senior director of communications for the Winter Springs, Fla.-based National Watermelon Promotion Board (NWPB).
In 2022 the board is continuing its efforts to prospect additional digital avenues to reach the consumer “within their path to purchase,” said Juliemar Rosado, director of retail and international marketing.
New this year, NWPB plans to work with mobile media company Genesis to provide “App>Less” immersive storytelling.
“Total marketing efforts are even more important as consumer habits change and the retail space changes with it,” Rosado said. “ It’s important to look at overall promotional efforts at retail during the customer’s path-to-purchase as well as inside the store, particularly in this new normal.”
The NWPB has also begun implementing commerce-enabled recipes. As the number of consumers buying groceries online continues to rise, engaging with those shoppers and making it simple to add watermelon to their online carts is critical, Rosado said.
By implementing shoppable recipe technology on Watermelon.org, NWPB will open up all recipes and ingredients to be shopped directly on the website - connecting consumers to retailers with just a few clicks.
The board’s spring and summer consumer program is focused on watermelon’s value and versatility benefits with the launch of the Use the Whole Watermelon 2.0. campaign, Barlow said. “We will educate, influence and advertise the 100% edible, Zero Food Waste message to media, educators, health professionals and consumers through digital, print and streaming outlets,” she said. “The Use the Whole Watermelon story will be updated with fresh branding and a new campaign landing page where consumers can virtually break down a watermelon to understand its parts, its benefits and how to use each delicious piece.”
In addition, refreshed and on-trend instructional and inspirational videos will visualize the butchery and cooking process, Barlow said. The virtual experiences will be packaged for consumers and professional audiences like media and dietitians, as well as challenge influencer partners to share inspiration year-long. Paid social and streaming ads will reach targeted audiences to direct them back to the landing page and continue the journey.
“Use the Whole Watermelon is the ultimate encapsulation for telling the watermelon value and sustainability story, allowing NWPB to combat purchase barriers and double down on multi-use, zero-waste and rind education,” she said. “The sustainability message specifically refers to lessening a consumer’s food waste footprint by using the whole watermelon, creating less waste at home and less waste going to landfills.”
The following five marketing tips from the NWPB are for retailers looking to optimize watermelon sales:
1. Make the Most of Your Customers’ Path to Purchase.
Make use of in-store displays – Colorful bins and large displays grab attention and grab sales. Also include digital, social media marketing and video components that provide customer reach beyond the brick and mortar element. Visit http://www.watermelon.org/retailers for more information.
2. The Entire Watermelon is Edible.
A top barrier to purchasing watermelon is that it is "too big/inconvenient" which spotlights the need to inform consumers on all the ways to use watermelon in recipes utilizing the flesh, juice and the rind, as well as incorporating fresh cuts and mini watermelon to maximize convenience.
3. Display Whole & Cut Watermelon Side by Side.
This creates great eye appeal and can increase sales of both. Furthermore, watermelon queen in-store promotions are a great way to educate and promote watermelon. These young women are smart, educated and bring something unique to the produce department. They can help that hesitant customer select the best watermelon.
4. Get the Word Out – Watermelon is Delicious and Nutritious.
Most consumers would purchase watermelon in the future if they knew it was healthy and nutritious for them. Try to include nutrition information wherever you can – on signs and displays, in social media posts, newsletters or ads.
5. Give Customers What They Crave All Year Long.
It delivers year-round sales, even in cold climates. Keeping watermelon top of mind year-round is another key ingredient to increasing demand for watermelon. During the import season, there is a push for fresh-cut in order to keep the product front of mind. While it is understandable that there will not necessarily be bins of whole watermelon to showcase, it is still a great hydrator, nutritious, wonderful in seasonal recipes during import season, and still a great snack on the go as fresh-cut or juice.
NWPB holds retail merchandising contest
The National Watermelon Promotion Board (NWPB) invites all retail chains, independent retailers and commissaries to submit entries to its 14th annual Watermelon Retail Merchandising Contest. The 2022 contest continues its shift to a watermelon merchandising effort that includes in-store displays but also encourages mixed merchandising tactics that can include social, digital, print and web marketing.
The contest will start in July to honor National Watermelon Month and run through August. The contest is aimed at identifying retailers that are showcasing watermelon’s benefits including health, value and versatility.
More than $10,000 in cash and prizes will be awarded to top entrants, including $5,000 for the grand prize winner. The second place winner will receive $2,500, third place will receive $1,000 and three honorable mentions will each receive $500.