Marketing for health 1Always treating shoppers as prospects rather than customers is a core marketing strategy, according to one of Washington’s largest apple and fresh fruit marketing companies. Chelan Fresh’s marketing director Mac Riggan shared this and other tips with senior marketing undergraduates during his guest lecture “Marketing Health in Today’s World.”

Charged with meeting increasing consumer demand for healthy food, Riggan suggested marketers should not become spoiled by thinking they have customers in the bag. Rather, they should continuously try to “recruit” customers through innovative package design and messaging that resonates with their expectations. He said health-conscious consumers want food that is convenient, safe, functional, and consistent but also new and exciting.

For example, Riggan said Chelan Fresh converts shoppers into buyers by designing Fuji apple packaging that conveys three essential things consumers want to know: where the apple is from (“mountain grown”), what it is good for (“great for snacking”) and how it tastes (“sugar-sweet”). He also said packaging must be bilingual, as U.S. markets are increasingly diverse.

“People will pay for what they know is predictable,” he said. “Consider how you will bridge cultures.”

Establishing brand recognition through key market segments

Riggan said in the healthy food industry, it is important to consider consumer values within specific market segments. Chelan Fresh’s largest campaigns are aimed at school children, with the intent of supporting families’s healthy eating habits as well as establishing brand recognition that transfers to retail stores where caregivers and busy mothers shop.

The company also targets baby boomers, millennials, and “flexitarians”—people who are rethinking their relationship with meat and sweets. He said baby boomers should be segmented as thoroughly as younger consumers because attitudes toward retirement, exercise, nutrition, and food in general are changing, and boomers have a lot of buying power. Millennials may be best influenced through social media campaigns or word of mouth, he said.

Riggan also said brand recognition is not just about advertising; a company’s reputation for excellent employee benefits and policies may also be used as a marketing or recruiting tool.

“The future of marketing is philanthropy,” he said. “Millennials expect brands to be accountable to public services and education.”

The right product at the right time

Riggan said product timing is everything, given consumer demand for convenience and functionality. Chelan Fresh is looking at getting more fruit choices into fast food restaurants and is developing a new apple variety with a long shelf life that can be sold in vending machines on campuses.

Technology is also a key marketing strategy. He said by 2020, apps such as a radio-frequency identification tag that allows consumers to track healthy food products in stores will drive $263 billion in services spending.

Chefs and T.V. personalities are yet another potential vehicle through which healthy food can be marketed, he said. Chefs are increasingly taking on the role of thought leaders and promoting healthy food as a social engagement tool, he explained. While he doesn’t personally endorse it, Riggan said marketers may form partnerships with celebrities who have converted their public personas into full lifestyle brands.

“Action is the key to success,” he said. “Don’t let the unknown paralyze you. Be patient and willing to do something that is not your dream job as you work your way toward your career goal.”

To learn more about how to engage with the Carson College of Business as a guest lecturer, please contact Raegan Harvey, Office of Development, 509-335-9448 or