You can't save the world, but it can't be saved without you.

The fruit in the supermarkets might be up to 10 months old. Fresh.Land - a Danish company who believed the consumers would pick freshly harvested fruit, ended up being wrong. If you have two fruits in your hand - one is 10 months old and the other one four days old - the choice seems quite obvious. Nonetheless, the old fruits were still the most popular choice in the Danish supermarkets, because the average consumer is not aware of either fruit seasons, how it should taste or how the middlemen keeps trying to cover the truth.

“In the supermarkets we were really relying on how well the greengrocer communicated with the customers about our products. But they were not as good as we had hoped. The greengrocers did not place the signs correctly which meant that the customers were unable to know how fresh our products are and why it might be a little bit more expensive than other products,” explains Mathilde Jakobsen, co-founder of Fresh.Land.

What began as a heavy communication challenge, ended up being solved with reconsideration upon their channels and introduced a harvest date to their products. The way they have done it can be an inspiration for everyone with ambitions on being more sustainable.

Going online might give you an issue with attention and trust

The solution to this communication problem was quite drastical. In 2019 Fresh.Land left the store shelves and instead launched the digital platform www.Fresh.Land. They left the sales channel which, after all, had secured the company a profit, with the belief that they could do better on their own. Now they had full control over their communication, but in return they were now on their own with the task of informing the customers. And so the challenge changed. From competing with other fruits and vegetables companies in the supermarket, Fresh.Land now competed online against all other advertisers who tried to capture the customer’s attention and build a trust bond that ultimately led to purchase.

According to a report from the Sustainable Index, 66% of the Danish consumers believe that sustainability has an impact on which products they buy. Because the customers demand sustainable products, it would be an advantage for businesses to develop exactly this type of products. Even though the demand for sustainable alternatives is rising, more and more companies are cheating with their green initiatives. The European Commission is doing research on “sustainable” companies. So far, they have come to the conclusion that around 42% of the companies with green initiatives are misleading.

The word “sustainable” has become an IT-word and you regularly see it being used by companies and politicians. Therefore it is important for you to show the world how you actually care about our planet and how you make sustainability more tangible.  The solution for Fresh.Land consisted of two primary components.

Freshness over sustainability

The first component is all about defining the communication hierarchy: How you make people remember your products after they visit your website.

When Fresh.Land launched in 2015, they already had their solution. Freshness is the highest word in Fresh.Land’s hierarchy - even more valuable than “sustainable”. And although the climate election and sustainability awareness was blooming in 2019, Fresh.Land kept using the word “freshness” in their branding.

“Sustainability is a very important subject for us, and we know a lot of our customers do too because they feel like they have made a good decision. For us, “freshness”, quality and taste is a qualifier, because the customers are not able to buy this kind of quality elsewhere. We mainly focus our communication to the freshness of our products and then afterwards we communicate the sustainable part,” explains Mathilde Jakobsen.

At Abel we see a lot of companies - both young and old - who use “sustainability” in their communication before everything else, even without a thought on why the customer chooses their products. And that is why they do not end up being peoples first choice. In this specific case, a one-size-fits-all-model does not exist because it all depends on the product.

Early in the process Fresh.Land knew that taste comes first in their case. If the food does not taste good, it will not get sold - even though it is sustainable.

The base of Fresh.Land’s word-hierarchy is fundamental for their marketing strategy, but still doesn't answer the question on how Fresh.Land communicates “freshness”. Because of “freshness” being a complex size - just like many other sustainable products, which leads us to the next solution component.

A harvest date will become a solid reference

In fall 2020 Fresh.Land added a harvest date to all their products. They become first movers as they have a potential to redefine the premises for the food industry and make Fresh.Land the obvious choice.

This harvest date makes it tangible for the customer because it removes the discussion. For the customers “freshness” can be both taste, smell and look, and in the end it all depends on the type of fruit and if it has been treated or not.

Just like cilantro - some people love the taste while others think it tastes like soap. It is a never ending discussion.

Every consumer defines the senses differently, but one thing is clear: A harvest date cannot be discussed. A harvest date makes it easy for the customer to realise the freshness of Fresh.Land’s products.

It might be easier to understand if you see it like this: You have many messages but nowhere to “hang” them so they fall to the ground. But if you have a peg (a harvest date) you get a specific object for your messages to hang on. When the customer thinks of fresh fruit they will associate it with Fresh.Land and the harvest date.

Abel's advice

During our interview with Mathilde Jakobsen about Fresh.Land’s communication problem, we also discussed their natural next step.

In this case we have chosen the most relevant focus area.

This will be relevant for Fresh.Land and other companies who find themselves in the same position: they know (a) what to communicate, what (b) the background is and (c) how they are focussing to endeavor this organical growth.

Fresh.Land’s customers already love their fresh fruit and vegetables. So instead of just leaving it there, we think a Referral Program with a real purpose will lead to more recommendations and raise organic growth.

Two statistics about Referral Programs

  • A recommendation from a friend solves the trust issue: A study from Nielsen shows that people who visit a webpage from a recommendation are more likely to make a purchase.
  • Many customers want to recommend but forget to do it: A study from Texas Tech University shows that 83% of the consumers want to recommend a product after purchase, but only 29% end up doing it.

Things you have to consider before building a Referral Program

Business: Is your business able to run if you give a reward for a recommendation?

It all depends on your company:

  1. You can offer a reduction on the customer's next purchase.
  2. The customers can save credit points to their account.
  3. You can offer a free product.
  4. You can allow unlimited recommendations or make a limit.

In the end it all depends on your business: what is the price of a customer and how much it normally costs you to get a new customer.

There are a lot of opportunities regarding Fresh.Land, but it is yet too early to know which one is advantageous.

Partiality: Is your product or service in a social dimension that makes a recommendation natural?

A major force for Fresh.Land is that their products are being used in daily cooking, and are therefore the main ingredient in social gatherings.

A natural flow: Are you able to integrate an advice into a recommendation as a natural part of the journey?

The Referral Program is made to raise the organical growth. Even though it is a great idea to kickstart this exact program with annonces, it should be possible without. If on the other hand it is not possible, there is a chance the money can be used elsewhere. In addition to the usual ones like mail footer in customer service and an added comment in the “check-out” folder on Fresh.Land’s website, it would make sense to integrate it into the fruit boxes and/or as a piece of paper inside of them. And for the subscribers it can easily be added to their profile.

In the end, Fresh.Land’s ability to work on a solution that makes a clear purpose not only for the customers but also for the environment, is something other companies can find inspiration from.