SAFAL – When apples were being compared with oranges.

In fact, not just apples, all the naturally ripened produce at the 400 plus stores of Safal in Delhi NCR were being literally outshone by fruits and veggies getting carbide ripening and dips in industrial dyes at the hands of raydiwaalas and mandis.

Ironically, washing and ripening fruits and veggies with chemicals and dyes made them appear greener, fresher and more appealing to the human eye. The situation was not good for anyone’s health, let alone the alarmingly dwindling sales at Safal stores.

But whether brand or human being, when it comes to health issues, there are always more parts to the puzzle than what meets the eye. In the 25 years since it was established, how did Safal go from being the benchmark of freshness to “ration shops” for fruits and vegetables?

Before we began changing perception, we had to investigate the facts. Where’s the produce sourced from? How do the trucks deliver them? What’s the motivation levels of the concessionaires to put out fresh produce? How do we change the ethos of the brand from just being about the lowest price? How can the stores encode freshness in a way that rivals the impermanence of the daily vegetable vendor?

To semiotocally encode freshness and impermanence at the stores we allied with nature to create an authentically fresh ambience. With a swing-out gate that saw a daily fresh display, crates and display systems made of wood and wicker, and hand-written prices signifying daily fresh produce.

Other issues with the store profitability lay with the motivations of franchisees. We worked on a franchisee motivational model, ran workshops with them to train them in merchandising and customer handling and even solutioned for supply chain issues related to ageing produce.

We directed their communication agencies to create a new conversation – not about price, but about provenance, not about availability, but about the farmers who grew this and changed the perception of the brand

It was the kind of multi-disciplinary approach, that resulted in the sales rocketing from 200kg/day to 650kg/day in the pilot store. Keeping an eye on all problems/opportunities, but never losing sight of the big picture is an attitude which never goes stale.