Dave Trott: Throwing money away

European farmers throw away three hundred million tons of fruit and vegetables a year.

There’s nothing wrong with them but they’re mis-shapen.

So the supermarkets won’t take them.

The supermarkets will only take perfect fruit and vegetables.

They believe that’s what their customers want.

Of course, this makes the best fruit & veg more expensive.

Simply because so much is rejected.

It also creates a lot of waste, which no one feels very good about.

Intermarche is a chain of French supermarkets.

They are famous for providing low prices and quality fresh produce.

Intermarche had a blindingly obvious insight.

At least, it seems blindingly obvious once you hear it.

The fruit and vegetables may look different, but they still taste the same.

If you’re going to use them in cooking, what’s the difference?

Once an orange is squeezed into juice, you won’t know what it looked like.

Once a carrot is chopped and cooked in a stew, you won’t know what it looked like.

Which is a great opportunity for predatory thinking.

People would happily buy less-than-perfect fruit & vegetables if they were cheaper.

The farmers will happily sell them much cheaper because they were only going to throw them all away anyway.

So Intermarche decided to give its customers a choice.

Bins of imperfect fruit & veg are displayed next to bins of perfect fruit and veg.

But 30% cheaper.

Which is just right for the supermarket brand that’s built on value and fresh produce.

Intermarche made it the basis of it’s new advertising campaign.


Each poster features a funny looking fruit or veg, shot beautifully.

Each has a relevant line, like:

"A grotesque apple a day keeps the doctor away just as well"

"A ridiculous potato still makes delicious mash potato"

"A disfigured eggplant, so cheap who cares what it looks like"

"A failed lemon tastes exactly like an expensive lemon"

Of course, customers loved it.

Store traffic immediately increased by 24% with sales up accordingly.

Intermarche sells an average 1.2 tons of imperfect fruit & veg each day in each of its 1,800 stores.

The campaign did what every client wants: it went viral.

In the first month, 13 million saw it for free on social media.

Millions more people saw it for free on the news, as commentators tried to get other supermarkets to follow Intermarche’s example in cutting waste.

Intermarche became different from all the other supermarkets.

It became the only supermarket that was sensible, thoughtful, and ecologically aware.

Not just big and greedy and expensive.

The supermarket that thought of their customers first.

Intermarche tapped into what Bill Bernbach called "Simple, timeless, human truths".

One of these is something my dad always used to say to me years ago.

"I don’t mind spending money, but I don’t like wasting it".


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