The avocado category continues to deliver impressive retail growth. Last year, retail volume exceeded 1.1 billion units and retail sales topped $1.2 billion. Hass avocados continue to dominate and drive this category with a 94% dollar share for all avocados. To help retailers post additional gains on top of already strong sales performance, and to attract and inspire additional purchases from avocado users, the Hass Avocado Board’s new study Shopper Motivations and Influences: Driving Hass Avocado Sales at Retail identifies key influencers in the path to purchase process.
“The research was conducted of heavy and super-heavy avocado users that plan to buy avocados ahead of time or buy them on impulse,” explains Emiliano Escobedo, executive director of the Hass Avocado Board. “Independent research has shown that these segments are extremely important to the category because this consumer group accounts for 50 percent of avocado-consuming households; they consume nearly 90 percent of the avocado volume.) Understanding how the shoppers purchase avocados can lead to high-impact merchandising strategies that can enhance shopper satisfaction and drive incremental retail category growth.”
Because of their unique taste and well known nutritional benefits, avocados are often included as part of the shoppers’ regular meal planning. Most respondents were very interested in good nutrition and seek to prepare healthy, homemade meals. Their decision to purchase avocados may start at home, but the in-store experience is the top influencer in driving the actual purchase. From initial impression, to produce assortment and quality, to informational and inspirational signage, to checkout, shoppers want their trip to be pleasant and productive. Once a shopper enters a store, the decision process encompasses five key factors in order of consideration and impact on the purchase decision. This decision hierarchy must be resolved to the shopper’s satisfaction before the next factor becomes relevant to the purchase decision. The factors include:
1. Product Display – Shoppers respond favorably to eye-catching, well-stocked and well-organized displays.
2. Quality and Ripeness - Quality and ripeness are closely related in the shoppers’ mind. Selecting the fruit at the “right” stage of ripeness is important to heavy users.
3. Price – Avocados are perceived as unique and not easily substitutable, which imparts some degree of insulation from price pressures.
4. Avocado Size - Shoppers do not like to waste avocados. They tend to seek larger avocados for multi-serving dishes like guacamole, and often prefer smaller avocados for single-serving use.
5. Other Factors (Variety, Brand, Organic/Locally Grown) – Shoppers are typically unaware of brands; however, shoppers identify with the distinctive color and skin texture of Hass avocados and many are familiar with the Hass name. Consumers also like to know if the avocados are organic or locally grown.
“In-store presentation, availability of ripe and ready-to-eat fruit, quality, and price are significant factors influencing the shopper’s decision to purchase avocados and the quantity of avocados purchased. Because the shopping experience is so important in the decision-making process, retailers can use this information to develop effective strategies and tactics to build the category,” suggests Escobedo.
The study reveals recommendations to help retailers increase sales. Retailers may want to consider placing avocados near tomatoes, where many shoppers expect to find them, while avoiding placement with exotic or lesser known produce items. When displaying avocados, the avocados may sell better if neatly stacked to convey an added level of care and quality. Posting large, easy-to-read pricing or promotional signage; providing recipe cards, video demonstrations and product samples; and communicating if it is a Hass variety are easy suggestions to implement to drive category sales.
Unlike other categories of fresh produce, avocado consumers seem to agree that there is no real substitute for a good avocado because of their unique taste and nutritional value. Helping retailers stay ahead of the curve and understand the triggers that influence the purchase of avocados is the focus of the Hass Avocado Board’s study. To learn the barriers to purchase, and detailed factors that persuade shoppers to purchase avocados, visit hassavocadoboard.com/retail to read the full report.