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Old idea with new twist can increase sales from 30 to 100 percent.

Visual sampling of Florida citrus can increase sales, according to the Florida Department of Citrus (FDOC).

Visual sampling, where oranges or grapefruit are cut in half to reveal the interior quality of the fruit, can increase sales, FDOC Director of Merchandising Jim Heidegger said. When used in combination with other promotional efforts, increases have ranged from 30 to 100 percent.

"With visual sampling, you provide the customer the opportunity to view the interior of Florida oranges and grapefruit, thereby encouraging more impulse purchases," Heidegger said. "It works like an in-store demonstration, but it's less costly and less time-consuming."

Retail grocery stores have used instore demonstrations as a part of their merchandising program for many years, he explained. However, the cost and time involved in those demonstrations have made it an on-again, off-again type of promotion.

Visual sampling has been used with a variety of other produce items in recent years, but using the concept with citrus is new.

Most produce items are an impulse purchase and are done visually, Heidegger said. However, Florida oranges and grapefruit may lack the exterior appeal of some other citrus items even though the interior of the fruit is juicy and more eye-appealing.

"Visual sampling enables the retailer to capture consumers who have traditionally made purchases based on the exterior appearance alone," he said.

During the test, Albertsons' 70 Florida stores used visual sampling along with a display building contest, newspaper ads and the FDOC-produced demonstration video.

"As a result of their promotion, Albertsons realized a sales increase of 30 percent over the previous year," Heidegger said.

Sales increased almost 100 percent at Western Supermarkets, headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., using a promotion relying heavily on visual sampling with in-store displays, special price cards and advertising included in the promotion. Save Mart Supermarkets in Modesto, Ca., also reported sales increases of nearly 90 percent during their February promotion last year, Heidegger said.

"So far this year, 20 percent of all the trade promotion programs completed have included visual sampling," Heidegger said.

"The results as of mid-season have been excellent. Of the top 50 retailers in the U.S., 52 percent used visual sampling during the first half of the year, and they have all reported increased sales," he said.

Visual sampling requires only that a single piece of fruit be cut in half and shrink-wrapped with one end up and the other end down. The FDOC even provides stickers explaining, "Outside this is as orange as a Florida orange gets...Inside, you can't get more orange." As an alternative, fruit can be cut for single serving snacks for the convenience of lunch-time customers. When it is properly wrapped, cut citrus will maintain its freshness for one to two days.
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Title Annotation:visual sampling, citrus fruits
Publication:Frozen Food Digest
Date:Apr 1, 1992
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