California Prunes returns to sampling to meet new buyers

The first event at Union Station since the start of the pandemic drove consideration for an often overlooked snack.



California Prunes wanted to reach a new audience of consumers who typically wouldn’t buy the dried fruit snack. It found its solution in a sampling event at Toronto’s Union Station.

The event saw representatives for the organization hand out more than 6,500 sample packs of California Prunes products at the transit hub in early November. Registered dietician Andy DeSantis was on hand to promote the event on social media and speak to some consumers about the health benefits of the snack.

It was the first in-person sampling event at Union Station since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The booth and packaging for the event featured callouts to the health benefits and quality of the product.

Retail sampling is a vital tool for the marketing of snacking products, including dried fruit products such as California Prunes. In fact, a study by Rose Research found that 24% of current non-purchasers could be enticed to buy prunes if they could taste the product first.

37ccfc23-49b5-4712-ba90-03a1075f48a3Those numbers were reflected in survey results conducted at the sampling event: of the almost 200 submissions, 41% of respondents confirmed they already bought prunes, but of those who said they did not, 79% said that they were likely to buy prunes within the next month, says Esther Ritson-Elliott, director of internal marketing and communications for the California Prune Board.

Though prunes are sometimes seen as a snack for elderly consumers, “there weren’t any comments made about this at the sampling event,” she adds. “We reinforced that California Prunes are the perfect healthy and delicious snack for all ages.”

While the brand hasn’t done much by way of shopper marketing in Canada, that is an area it is looking at as Canadian markets emerge from pandemic restrictions. California Prunes-branded products are available at Longo’s locations, while the product is also available under the brand names Sunsweet, Prana and Sun-Maid in many other retail locations.

Harbinger helped put together the Union Station activation.