When it comes to promoting an apple, the buzzword is “engagement,” whether the audience is the retailer or the consumer.
“For me, online engagement is key,” said Rena Montedoro, vice president of sales and marketing at Crunch Time Apple Growers, a group of 147 New York growers united to market their exclusive SnapDragon and RubyFrost varieties.
“It’s consumer engagement that pushes that wagon, but we have to let retailers know there’s a market.”
Crunch Time partnered with the Schwinn bicycle company for 2017 and 2018 “Pack a Snap, Win a Schwinn” promotions on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, which had people engaging online to win one of five bicycle giveaways.
“Their brand values matched ours. Our apples support an active lifestyle, healthy eating, gourmet eating and the idea that eating SnapDragon is a treat.”
The strategy is twofold: Share the message with retailers in traditional ads and point-of-sale materials that have bold graphics, and to directly spread awareness of the brand with consumers. At the end of the day, the goal is to help retailers sell more apples, Montedoro said.
The resealable pouch packs are getting evermore bright and kid-friendly to attract youth and the parents who buy their food.
New York Apple Sales marketing vice president Jim Allen said his company works with individual retailers to see what promotions suit their customers’ demographics for in-store, high-graphic displays.
“With our new varieties, like Koru and SnapDragon, we do a lot of demos because customers aren’t familiar with the taste,” Allen said.
The company also does online coupons and works with retailers on specialty packs, like high-end retailers who like clear four-pack clamshells. For some retailers, it offers different stock-keeping units for pouches, bulk and custom packs of fresh-sliced varieties.
“Then we try to back up whatever we do with social media — Instagram, Twitter and Facebook — like when we did a Koru demo in an area, we had posts and sponsored posts in that area,” Allen said.
Hess Bros. Fruit Co. in Lancaster, Pa., also does demos of Sweet Cheeks, its new proprietary apple, said Andy Figart, sales and marketing manager.
It plans to promote other new varieties like SnapDragon, RubyFrost and Evercrisp for the next few months.
“Supplies are still limited on all of these varieties, but there continues to be a lot of excitement surrounding them. We are encouraged by the increased demand from the market year over year on all of them,” Figart said.
Four Seasons Produce Inc., Ephrata, Pa., wants to do a new promotion of SnapDragon in January, merchandiser Brian Dey said. It’s also into Opal and Lady Alice varieties.
“We create excitement by creating displays,” Dey said.
Rice Fruit Co. in Gardners, Pa., will kick off its Kiku program with promotions in early January, highlighting high-graphic shipper displays that are great for end caps and speak directly to the consumer, said Brenda Briggs, vice president of sales and marketing.
“The local movement is strong and well, and we have a number of programs in place at the moment where we highlight our relative closeness to the end consumer. Customers want to know where their food is coming from, and we’re enjoying the development of programs to satisfy our local regions,” Briggs said.
Stemilt Growers in Wenatchee, Wash., is planning large promotions of Piñata apples for partners across North America and internationally.
“This apple has a great crop and makes a great January-through-June promotion apple,” said marketing director Roger Pepperl.
It’ll do bulk promotions, as well as stand-up pouch bags for adults and children. Stemilt also plans to continue pushing conventional and organic Lil Snapper. They compete with other organic programs that downsell what is the biggest produce consumer in the marketplace.
“We always say, ‘Sell more to the organic shopper, who buys more,’” Pepperl said.
Hudson River Fruit Distributors in Milton, N.Y., will do a buy-one-get-one deal for 2-pound SnapDragon and RubyFrost pouch bags for the month of January, operations manager Alisha Albinder said.
“We feel this will be a great way for consumers to try both great-tasting, exclusively-grown-in-New-York varieties,” Albinder said.
“It’s an attractive deal for retailers as well, to jumpstart healthy eating in January.”
For the scoop on proprietary apples, check out What's in a name? A lot, when it comes to 2019 apples.