The fallacy of the heavy buyer: Exploring purchasing frequencies of fresh fruit and vegetable categories

Zachary William Anesbury, Danielle Talbot, Chanel Andrea Day, Tim Bogomolov, Svetlana Bogomolova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


‘Avocado lover,’ ‘banana lover,’ or ‘berry lover’ – these words are starting to dominate the contemporary marketing campaigns for fresh fruit and vegetable categories. Such campaigns assume that there are sizable buyer segments who purchase a particular fresh category more frequently, who are contributing a larger portion of sales, and who will continue to do so into the future. Yet, an established body of empirical evidence from consumer packaged goods (CPG) categories suggests that these assumptions could be false. The current study empirically examines fresh category purchasing behavior (through a large Nielsen US panel data) by applying three known models: the Negative Binomial Distribution, the Pareto share, and the stability over time analysis (buyers and sales contribution). This study compares the results and finds that despite many differences between fresh and CPG categories, buyers' purchasing behavior follows the same established benchmarks patterns as those observed in CPG contexts. There are many more infrequent or light buyers than heavy ‘lovers’; the heavy buyers contribute roughly 60% of sales; they are purchasing less frequently, and contributing fewer sales as time goes by. These findings carry important implications for marketers, retailers, and farmers of fresh categories. Specifically, the results show which marketing campaigns (i.e., those highly targeted at ‘lovers’ or those with a mass marketing appeal) are better grounded in the empirical evidence about buyer behavior which has the highest probability of increasing consumption.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101976
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Retailing and Consumer Services
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Fresh fruit and vegetable categories
  • Heavy buyers
  • Negative Binomial Distribution
  • Pareto share


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