Retail Scan Data

The NWPB works with IRI to provide a snapshot of the retail scene using retail scanner data. This data covers roughly 85% of retail grocery and includes traditional grocery stores with sales of $2 million or more annually, excluding some supercenters. The NWPB has had access to regional data for whole, mini and cut watermelon, but new in 2019, the Board invested in market-level data, drilling down to fifty different markets across the country to give an even more in-depth view of retail and consumer behavior. These markets represent over 208 million people in over 78 million households. The focus of the report below will be on the past 52-week period and how it compares to the prior period of the same length. If you have any questions or are looking for custom reports, please to reach out to Jason Hanselman at [email protected].

Please note: The Retail Scan Data Report has undergone changes as our data provider, IRI Worldwide, will be migrating to a new platform. Benefits include more timely data updates so there will be less lag time between data updates and the report being published, and enhanced ability to create tables and charts within the platform. With these changes the database also classifies various aspects of watermelon retail sales differently, which can be summed up in the following table comparing sales in pounds by category for the past 52 weeks, ending January 24, 2021:

Retail Scan Data Report

Retail Ad Tracking

NWPB works with Numerator for Retail Ad Tracking. Numerator’s database is a great tool that allows us to go deeper into the retail space. It uses an ad-tracking system that ensures timely analysis of what the largest chains are promoting. The data goes into a database that can run reports and queries and includes images of the ads.

Below is the monthly report with the information shown throughout derived from the retail advertisement database provided by Numerator Promotions Intel, which gives NWPB the ability to see nearly real-time ad activity in the retail sector. In addition to images of every ad, NWPB also receives data that makes the following breakdowns possible. This report reflects the 52 weeks up to the report date versus the prior 52 week period with a similar breakdown focusing upon more recent times. If you have any questions, please reach out to Mark Arney at [email protected].

RETAIL AD TRACKING REPORT

Budget Friendly Produce Study

In 2020, the NWPB funded a study through IRI to assess the cost of recommended daily servings of fresh produce. IRI completed an analysis to determine the lowest retail price for a consumer to purchase nine servings of fresh fruit and vegetables per day while having variety in his/her diet. Watermelon was the frontrunner for fruit throughout the study.

The research focused on these key questions:

  • What is the lowest average retail price for a consumer to purchase nine servings of fresh fruits and vegetables per day while having variety in his/her diet?
  • What is the lowest average retail price for nine servings by season?
  • What is the lowest average retail price for nine servings by region?

Parameters included:

  • Spring/Summer is an aggregate of Q2 and Q3 2020.
  • Fall/Winter is an aggregate of Q4 2019 and Q1 2020.
  • 9 servings of Fruits and Vegetables include 4 servings of Fruit and 5 servings of Vegetables
  • Serving size is defined as a 1/2 cup of the edible portion of a product.

Total U.S. data showed that $6.96 was the average retail price per servings of fruit and vegetables. More than 20 varieties of fruit were priced lower than the average $.76 price per serving. Similarly, 18 varieties of vegetables were priced lower than the average $0.79 per serving. Whole watermelon had the lowest cost per serving of fruit and whole potatoes had the lowest cost per serving of vegetables over the course of 52 weeks. When examining each IRI defined region over the course of 52 weeks, whole watermelon had the lowest cost per fruit serving in each region, while in vegetables whole potatoes had the lowest cost per serving in each region.

Retail prices for 9 servings varied between seasons, ranging from $6.32 in the Spring/Summer to $7.80 in the Fall/Winter. Fruits ranged from $0.69 to $0.86 per serving. Watermelons and Bananas appeared in the top two least expensive fruits per serving in both seasons. Depending on region, other fruits mentioned included cantaloupe and pineapple. South Central showed the lowest average price for nine servings for the year. with $6.35, while the North East was the highest with $7.59.

If you have any questions or are interested in receiving the report, please reach out to Mark Arney at [email protected].

Analytics Study on Watermelon Price & Trade Response

In 2020, the Board funded a study with Information Resources Inc. (IRI) with the objective to leverage base, promoted and cross price elasticity estimates to help determine strategic direction and mitigate the volume and impacts of potential price increases or decreases for watermelon within the produce department. The focus was to build price elasticity and trade promotion response models that help the NWPB understand the following:

  • What’s the role of watermelon price, relative to other price & trade drivers?
  • What is the impact of short-term price reductions, measured as discount elasticities, and of merchandising, measured as lifts, for watermelon items?
  • Is there substantial variation in shelf price elasticity across channels, key food retailers,  and mass?
  • Is there substantial variation in promotion response across channels, key food retailers, and mass for the watermelon category?

COVID-19 controls were a key factor in the 2020 study. Here is a summary:

  • Excluded weeks that include abnormal/outlier behavior to ensure unbiased coefficients and lifts that are not influenced by irrational consumer purchase behavior associated with hoarding that took place regionally between March and April of 2020.
  • Included turbulent weeks, but build a set of indicator variables at a store/week level to capture COVID-19 incidence. Weekly Panic Buy Indicator captured deviations in sales and did not allow the COVID-19 momentum impact price and promotional response.
  • Display data collection was halted due to safety concerns between March and July of 2020. Display impact in those missing months was not explicitly measured, but calibration timeframes are 3x or more longer and that additional data will need to be relied upon for display lifts.
  • Used Google Workplace Mobility data to understand the demand shifts due and consumers limited ability to leverage foodservice (restaurants, on-site cafeterias, etc.), supply chain constraints, and workforce underemployment.

Everyday Shelf Price

Response to everyday shelf pricing is relatively low in the U.S. retail landscape, while consumer response to price changes on whole watermelons is somewhat stronger than cut and minis.  Consumer response to price change of cut and mini watermelon has decreased since the study in 2016. Base price thresholds do not present as a strong risk factor in the current pricing landscape for any watermelon type across all retail formats.

 Implications

  1. Low price sensitivities present an opportunity to protect profit margin and to pass along cost of goods inflation with corresponding adjustments of price to retailer customers and consumers.
  2. Cut and mini watermelon are a low risk, low reward product set. Price adjustments will be more manageable, but trade promotions lifts will also be limited. Whole watermelon should be considered the “fighter” product worthy of promotional allocations to move inventory and drive incremental purchases.
  3. Inelastic price response does not translate into risk-free price actions as there will still be volume loss due to list price adjustments.

Competitive Pricing

While measurements indicated moderate to strong pricing effects between a variety of fruit types and watermelon sales, it is believed the strongest impacts are driven more by seasonal pricing of the various fruits rather than specific consumer switching. However, there are some very compelling price gaps between certain items that are worth managing to optimize watermelon sales levels:

Food: Mini Watermelons to Whole Watermelons -$2.20 (-5.5%) and -$2.70 (-5.5%)

 Implications

  1. Most of the price gaps identified are within the watermelon category and can be used to optimize sales or margin contribution. Price gaps should be interpreted as the consumer’s perceived willingness to pay the difference.
  2. Understand that price gaps are not reciprocal and they cannot be expected to be equal when reversed. i.e. cut watermelon to cut apples $2.50 (-21.3%) does not equal cut apples to cut watermelon -$2.50 (-21.3%)

Promotional Price Response

Response to price discounting is generally low across all watermelon types and retail outlets with few exceptions. Temporary price reductions on cut watermelon are not effective. Lifts on all are significantly lower than reported in 2016. Specific promoted price threshold present could be used to help focus promotional efforts at the right price point to efficiently drive volume within the industry:

Food: Mini Watermelons @ $3.79 (+23.8%), Whole Watermelons @ $5.79 (+11.2%)

 Implications

  1. Lower promotional price response is a symptom felt widely in the industry and should be considered in promotional planning.
  2. The identification of promoted price thresholds enables bonus incremental volume, boosting promotion return on investments that would otherwise go untapped and allows retailers to avoid deeper discount levels that cause consumer subsidization.

Quality Merchandising

Secondary Display appears to drive significant incremental lift. In food, feature ads perform very well for mini watermelons – ensure all promotions include feature support.

Implications

  1. When investing in quality merchandising or “plussing up” simple temporary price reductions, understand the estimated lifts associated with each vehicle and related retailer costs. These inputs allow for simple return on investment calculations and straight-forward decision making on trade event components.
  2. Reliable estimates of promotional lifts allows for partnership with retail customers on expected units. Collaborate on ideas to support on floor inventory levels including secondary locations in high traffic and complementary usage occasion aisles (lobby displays, seasonal aisle, alcohol department) in recommended.
  3. Retailer ad or feature support typically provides significant lift enhancement, but these lifts should be confirmed prior to committing trade allocations to ensure above breakeven returns on those investments.

If you have any questions on this study, please reach out to Mark Arney at [email protected].