Chairman Johnson: Preparing for Changes in Consumer Behavior

The Department has many tools at its disposal to analyze, evaluate and anticipate changes in consumer behavior. While the marketing team turns to these tools regularly throughout the season, they are especially crucial when it comes time to plan for the season ahead.

Past studies that continue to inform FDOC marketing activities include those that look at willingness to pay and reasons why consumers purchase Florida Orange Juice. Thanks to these studies, we know that consumers are also more likely to purchase when they hear about the positive attributes of orange juice, such as its great taste and health benefits, through advertising or media coverage. Consumers are also willing to pay more for 100% orange juice when they associate it with Florida.

With planning underway for the 2022-23 season, the Department is also analyzing how inflation may impact consumers in the months ahead and exploring which marketing activities may help ensure Florida Orange Juice remains in carts as prices increase across the board.

Thanks to data collected monthly by the Department’s Consumer OJ Tracker, we know that consumers are already responding to increased food prices in various ways. Earlier this year, Dr. Zansler shared that between May and December 2021, 8% of consumers had purchased less food, 23% purchased store brands or economy sizes, and 32% looked for in-store promotions, deals, or coupons.

With inflation increasing since these figures were collected, it is likely safe to assume that buying habits have changed, as well. Most concerning of these findings is the increased shift in the percentage seeking in-store promotions. These in-store promotions have been on the decline for OJ for some time. And that isn’t expected to change. This makes the Department’s marketing programs even more crucial as we focus on capturing consumer attention without discounts or coupons.

Fortunately, this has been the approach of the Department for some years now. Today’s marketing programs focus on driving sales through eCommerce and increasing awareness of the health benefits of Florida Orange Juice. The Original Wellness Drink campaign, which we expect to continue in the new season, highlights the ways orange juice has always been an easy and great tasting way to add nutrition to the day.  Since July, the Department’s eCommerce program has driven $54.3 million in attributed sales of Florida Orange Juice.

Continuing these efforts is vital as sales of orange juice and all goods are impacted by inflation and other supply chain and production challenges. As reported earlier this month, the Consumer Price Index has inflation up by 8.5% over the last 12 months with increases in the indexes for gasoline, shelter, and food as the largest contributors. Additionally, the latest Nielsen Retail Sales report has total orange juice sales down by 0.2 percent compared to the pre-pandemic level of 2019.

While this presents a challenge outside our control, it is one that the Department doesn’t take lightly. Expect to hear more about the Department’s plan to address these consumer behavior shifts at the May FCC meeting in Bartow when the 2022-23 plan is shared.

In the meantime, please plan to attend an interactive webinar at 11 a.m. on Friday, April 29 to discuss advertising tactics that drive consumers to purchase. Come prepared to share any ideas you have for the future of Florida OJ marketing as these will be used to further inform planning.

Steve Johnson is Chairman of the Florida Citrus Commission, which oversees the Florida Department of Citrus. He is the owner and general manager of Johnson Harvesting, Inc., based in Wauchula, FL.