APAL’s Olivia Tait reports on what was achieved in the apple and pear marketing domain during the time APAL was asked to help.
It was agreed between APAL and Horticulture Innovation Australia Ltd (Hort Innovation) that APAL would manage a range of short-term marketing projects during November and December 2015 whilst Hort Innovation secured a new dedicated person to manage the apple and pear marketing program. The following provides an account of what we undertook to deliver, what was achieved and a where to from now review.
Before we could proceed with confidence with any marketing work, it was necessary to get a clear and accurate understanding of the apple and pear categories, with a focus on understanding the size of the category, household penetration, purchasing frequency and the retail market value.
Previously, APAL had not been given this data in full. When Hort Innovation provided us with what data was available and we had a chance to analyse it we realised there were questions about its accuracy and integrity.
Freshlogic was engaged to look at what insights we could extract from the available data because they have extensive knowledge, insights and experience in the fresh food category and an understanding of the domestic retail landscape. This data was overlayed with qualitative findings so we could further understand purchasing behaviours, motivations and barriers.
We then tested the accuracy and validity of the data and findings with the main retailers to ensure we were on the right track. This information not only provided us with a much better understanding of the current situation, it, more importantly, helped us to identify growth areas and pathways to improve grower margins and returns.
We found the following for apples:
- Percentage of households buying apples: 90%
- Average number of shopping trips when apples are purchased per year: 26.5 (Customers are buying apples every second week)
- Average purchase: 0.89kg (or about 5.5 apples @ 160gms each)
- Average retail price: $3.82/kg
This indicates that for apples we need to increase purchasing frequency and increase price per kilogram.
For pears we found:
- Percentage of households buying pears: 60%
- Average number of shopping trips when pears are purchased per year: 11.1 (Customers are buying pears less than once a month)
- Average purchase: 0.849kg (or about 5 pears @ 170gms each)
- Average retail price: $2.91/kg
For pears, we need to increase the purchasing frequency, market penetration and price per kilogram.
Category management plans
Category management plans look at all the opportunities for selling a product throughout the year across areas including promotions, pricing, packaging, competition, etc. to identify the most effective strategy to deliver a return.
The development of category management plans for apples and pears is a vital tool in helping to understand the dynamics within the retail channel and enables the development of a strategic plan to co-ordinate the category to deliver improved outcomes. Previously there has not been an apple or a pear category management plan.
Securing accurate market data is the foundation of any category management plan development. With more data now in hand, a first draft version of the pear category management plan was developed and shared with Coles, Woolworths and Aldi. We are keen to secure their buy-in as the plans are developed further. An apple category management plan is also now in development.
APAL will continue with this work to bring the development of the plans to completion.
In 2015, funding had been committed to the Taste of Melbourne festival. There are no records of what has been done for apples and pears in previous years at the festival but APAL picked up the responsibility to deliver the event and worked towards maximising the benefits and exposure the event offered.
The event was run over four days at Albert Park. We set up the apple and pear stand and sold over 750 pear smoothie and apple frappé drinks. The stand promoted not only the quality of Australian fruit but showcased its use in different formats to a largely foodie audience.
Looking at the cost and the benefit to the industry the Taste of Melbourne festival might not be the most efficient way to promote apples and pears alone. Perhaps if it was a horticulture-wide display it may be worth considering in the future with an educational element.
Social media and website review
Increasingly, these communication vehicles provide us with a great opportunity to engage with current and potential consumers and tell the apple and pear story right along the supply chain. Once we saw the investment being made into these areas it became apparent that we could be getting a lot better value for money.
APAL conducted an extensive review of the apple and pear Facebook and Twitter accounts, websites, and the contracts with the respective service providers. We identified a number of opportunities to improve the return on investment across these mediums and have submitted to Hort Innovation, for their consideration, a number of recommendations to ensure better value for money, improved performance, that all communication mechanisms are integrated, and most importantly, that information provided to consumers and potential consumers helps to drive sales and increase consumption of apples and pears.
We look forward to seeing how Hort Innovation now takes this forward and we remain open to assist.
Pear marketing campaign
The Rediscover the Pear campaign has run for the last three years, with the pear cookbook as the main marketing piece. Whilst this campaign has played an instrumental role in helping consumers understand the versatility of the pear, it had run its course. Indeed, the third cookbook released in 2015 simply repeated recipes from the previous cookbooks and used the same imagery.
APAL has developed a new pear campaign that targets the following key message pillars: health and nutrition; snacking; versatility; product attributes; and provenance. The campaign comes to life with pear characters who each tell a story.
In addition to the core campaign, we developed two unique characters, Guru Pear and Battler Pear that are part of our Hailstorm Heroes team. These characters aim to tell the story of the hail storms that hit the Goulburn Valley and encourage customers to buy hail-affected fruit. All the creative work has been completed under APAL’s management and shared with pear growers in the Goulburn Valley. The execution of this campaign now sits with Hort Innovation.
Export market development funding
APAL took on the role of reviewing the application and reporting process of export market development funding that is used by growers to help them promote their apples and pears overseas.
APAL has presented Hort Innovation with a series of recommendations as to how this process could be better managed to ensure the money invested in overseas export markets is spent across initiatives that will drive sales and increase the exposure of Australian fruit across key export markets.
While it was a busy few months, APAL welcomed the opportunity to get more involved in the planning, development and execution of apple and pear marketing activities. All that work has now been handed back to Hort Innovation with the appointment of Lisa Troy as the new Marketing Manager for Apples and Pears who now assumes the responsibility for the delivery of the marketing efforts.
Collectively we have worked to get the apple and pear marketing efforts back on track after what’s been a pretty turbulent period. Open, transparent and collaborative behaviours will need to be adopted to ensure the successful delivery of apple and pear marketing efforts and a far more effective and efficient use of the apple and pear marketing levy funds is deployed.