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A lemon is great for drinks and for adding a little zest to recipes. But for lemon growers—and in particular, the giant Californian producer Limonera—one fruit here and another there is not quite enough to help sustain, much less grow, the business. Therefore, taking a page from the baking soda handbook, Limonera has initiated a massive marketing campaign to remind users of all the different uses lemons really have.

A similar situation faced Arm & Hammer, the primary seller of baking soda, back when it first introduced the product in 1846. But by encouraging people to use baking soda as toothpaste, in laundry, as a cleanser, and as an odor remover in refrigerators, the company vastly expanded the market for a simple little product. In the modern era, it leveraged these uses to introduce its own lines of toothpaste and detergent.

Lemons can perform many similar tasks, according to a website that Limonera has established to inform consumers about the various ways they might use the little yellow citrus. Need a great smelling cleaner? Try lemons! In stores, consumers can link to the site through QR codes included on the bags in which bulk lemons come. Once there, they might also learn that lemons can add highlights to blonde hair and help smooth rough skin on elbows.

Even if they don’t check out the website though, Limonera is determined to expose customers to new ideas. Working with grocery retailers, it has established new displays that emphasize the non-food or cooking uses of lemons. What about, for example, using an empty half of a rind as a tea candle holder?

Part of the effectiveness of this campaign comes from its effective parallels with consumers’ preferences for natural and safe products. Unlike harsh chemicals, cleaning, or deodorizing, or bleaching hair with lemon offers a sense of safety and environmental responsibility.

Source: Andrew Adam Newman, “A Lemon Grower Emphasizes Uses for Citrus Outside the Kitchen,” The New York Times, August 22, 2012.

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