What Bananas Have to Do With Your Marketing (Seriously)

By Dan Trefethen


In essence, B2B marketing is bananas.

End blog post.

Alright, fair, elaboration needed. It’s not that B2B marketing is silly or crazy or chaotic (although those can all be true in some contexts), it’s that B2B marketing shares a mirrored existence with bananas, the two are inter-dimensionally linked, and lessons can be learned from understanding their connection.

How about that? Everything all explained and tidy now, right? No?

The average American consumes about 28 pounds of bananas a year. And these bananas are all the same – the Cavendish banana, which accounts for 95% of the international banana market.

What does this exactly mean? The Cavendish banana is just one singular breed of banana (in the Musa genus), and it was culled from thousands of other possibilities for mass production throughout the banana industry around 1950.

Here’s the crazy part, the linchpin of the banana’s history in the 20th century – there was a different and BETTER banana breed that was mass produced in the first half of the 20th century.

I know. Relax. Calm down. There’s still more to cover here. And I promise the marketing connection is coming.

Some readers may be already aware of this, and VICE news did a special about the subject some months ago, but upon discovery, I couldn’t contain my incredulousness.

The pre-1950s banana was called the Gros Michel, and was a little fatter, and apparently, much tastier.

So what happened? What’s the deal?

The Gros Michel’s rein was devastated by a fungal disease called the Panama disease that spread rapidly across plantations in Central America. The disease was able to spread so comprehensively because of the identical genetics of the bananas across commercial plantations in the late 1940s – monoculture.

The initial intention of the banana industry to make almost all commercially available bananas the same breed was for market scalability.

The banana business model is the cheapest fruit in the supermarket, thus scalability of production is paramount. It also greatly helps advertising to have a unified definition of this is what a banana looks and tastes like, getting as many people as possible all on the same page.

So when the entire product of the Gros Michel – bananas at large – was in jeopardy of vanishing, the banana market needed a replacement.

Enter the Cavendish and the compromise for aesthetics.

The banana industry had a decision to make. Replacement banana breeds could lean toward a similar taste as the Gros Michel, but look a little less appealing, or taste a little different, but look sleeker and, well, marketable (i.e. easily fit in hands, become a nice solid yellow when ripe, grow in easy-to-handle batches).

They went with the latter. And those are the bananas we all eat today, whether we like it or not.

However, that’s not the end. In recent years, the Panama disease has started to affect the Cavendish banana, wiping out plantations across Asia, parts of the Middle East, and Southern Africa. Though it has not yet spread throughout all banana producing continents, the search for a new banana …read more

Read more here:: B2CMarketingInsider

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