One of the most important – and difficult – things a grower can do to ensure success is to build a brand that resonates with consumers and that retailers recognize.

At a time when retailers are looking to put more emphasis on store brands to cut costs, increase margins and build relationships with consumers, it’s never been more important for growers to build brands within categories.

Bob’s Big Grocery Store would much prefer that shoppers associate top-notch product with their chain rather than with a particular grower. And already razor-thin margins are about to feel even more of a squeeze as discount grocers like Lidl and Aldi, with a hard focus on store brands, force other retailers to look for ways to cut costs.

SPW talked with a pair of grower-shippers who have had much success carving out brand names that consumers now know.

Shuman Produce Inc. of Reidsville, GA has been tireless in marketing its “RealSweet” line of onions through constant advertising and branding at the industry level and a non-stop stream of consumer-focused promotions that draw attention and build brand loyalty.

Handy Candy LLC is a Birmingham, AL-based subsidiary of Flavor-Pic Tomato Co, which is in turn a subsidiary of Alex Kontos Fruit Co., carved out specifically to market grape tomatoes in convenient, snack-sized servings. That company has taken a different road to drive a single product from concept to coast-to-coast success.

Here’s a look at Handy Candy’s overall marketing campaign, and a specific study of Shuman’s recently completed “How to Speak Southern” campaign, a second go-around of a consumer favorite that has proven to have laigs… or legs, if you don’t actually speak Southern:

Handy Candy’s sweet success comes from unique marketing

How do you convince a kid to eat grape tomatoes instead of candy bars? A little psychology helps. Convenience, flavor and nutritional value help even more. But how to spread the word was the question of the day. The answer came from an unlikely pairing and a burst of inspiration. READ MORE


Shuman Produce says ‘Y’all come back now, y’hear?’

John Shuman has been one of the most creative and relentless marketers in the produce world for years. That’s one of the reasons he’s become likely the most successful sweet onion grower-shipper in the industry as well. Quality and consistency are paramount in that success, but the Shuman name is literally everywhere in trade marketing and the “RealSweet” label is constantly in front of consumers through a series of marketing and social media campaigns that range from silly to sublime, from hilarious cooking videos to recipes and a focus on family. READ MORE

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