APAL’s Craig Chester introduces his work to develop the Pink Lady® brand globally that aims to improve the profitability of Pink Lady growers – including Australian growers and exporters.
‘What is the global Pink Lady® business?’, or commonly asked another way ‘So, what is it that you guys actually do?’. When asked this question by APAL’s members and key stakeholders, I am reminded of the timeless scene in Monty Python’s ‘Life of Brian’ where The People’s Front of Judea ask ‘What have the Romans ever done for us?’. Which of course is not to compare our small and unassuming team to an empire, or a powerful overseas organisation. Nor is it to say that we have built something as impressive as the aqueducts. But it does make me realise that we have been quietly working for years to build a multi-million dollar business that generates funds that supports APAL’s work for growers and has increased returns to local growers, yet many growers don’t know the extent of what the work we do.
Our core objective is to continue to develop, grow and evolve the global Pink Lady business, and to use that business to create the conditions for our stakeholders to sell more profitable apples. Put simply, when things are well co-ordinated across a broad network of individual businesses, they are done better. The more strategic and consumer-focused our business can be, the better the financial outcome in selling our apples can be. This is at the heart of what we do each day.
Our reach and our portfolio is expanding, but the majority of our global business is built around – Pink Lady. The Pink Lady brand is an incredibly successful international business generating benefits for the Australian industry. Yes, our Pink Lady licensees benefit greatly from using the brand on their produce, and yes there are challengers to the throne coming fast, and always, both in Australia and abroad, but the brand is still a clear number one in its category, growing year on year and is the standard by which all others are judged.
Most importantly to Australia, the structure is in place for APAL to take a greater global leadership role when we decide as a business and industry body, the projects and initiatives we wish to invest in. Perhaps more importantly, for our leadership to be respected and successful, we need to demonstrate how we are improving the global effectiveness of our brand. Following are some recent examples of this brand development work.
Motivations to purchase
With the Pink Lady brand trademarked in over 90 countries worldwide, each with their own cultural nuances and different levels of development as Pink Lady markets, finding a central proposition for the brand is of great importance and complexity. In February 2016 we ran a workshop for our global brand managers to discuss this and answer three questions: 1) What motivates people to purchase Pink Lady apples, 2) How global can our brand be without sacrificing relevance to each market, and 3) How do we implement a global structure.
To answer the first of these questions we engaged Omnicom Research to uncover which one of the fundamental human motivations is relevant to our brand and purchasing it. It’s critical to go back this deep and get behind cultural norms and influence to ensure we have global consensus. Category hygiene drivers such as health, snacking, freshness, crunch etc. are not differentiating. However, if we accept that as long as a need remains unmet it remains the dominant determinant of behaviour, then understanding those needs allows us to change purchase behaviour.
Once those needs are identified, they become powerful and differentiating for the Pink Lady brand once we bring it to life through communication. Most importantly, it provides a new and more efficient approach to marketing investment. These insights are now driving the re-development of our Pink Lady Brand Guidelines and Brand Manual. This work will ensure our brand activity matches our #1 market position. We look to launch this in early 2017.
How global can we be?
Our second challenge is a longer game, but by answering the first question and significantly improving our brand guidelines, we demonstrate our credentials to manage certain aspects of our brand centrally without taking away any territories’ current autonomy.
With excellent work supporting the brand in the United Kingdom and Europe, APAL’s intent is only to eliminate some of the looser interpretations of the brand in other markets we see from time to time by uniting behind a globally accepted standard for the representation of the brand. So the second example of our increasing global brand consistency is the rebuilding of the global website pinkladyapples.com.
Formerly set up to house information about the International Pink Lady Alliance (an international alliance of key Pink Lady licensees representing primary production and trading territories around the world), the site will evolve to be a central business-to-business hub for Pink Lady brand and all our commercial functions.
The website now provides the opportunity for licensees to access volume reports for the brand to use at their discretion for retailer presentations. It will house packaging guidelines, quality information, exporter and importer information, statistics and research for exclusive use of licensees.
Most importantly it becomes the portal from which to access our new online reporting system – a customised reporting system for the Pink Lady brand. Licensees will submit licence applications, shipment forecasts and monthly shipment data via the system. Customised reporting will be available for Master Licensees to coordinate their territories and help APAL manage the brand internationally. The website and online reporting system will go live in early 2017.
How do we implement a new global structure?
The third challenge for the brand is in fact our most difficult. Unlike the tightly controlled management of some apple brands, our Pink Lady business is managed inclusively and collaboratively. This offers benefits, but also some challenges.
The uniting force is our Pink Lady quality standards and therein lies the solution to implementing a new global structure. Former Australian Chief of the Defence Force and Governor of NSW David Hurley famously said “the standard which you walk by is the standard you accept” and that statement neatly sums up the strong global culture required to implement a global brand structure.
Building a strong global culture ensures all our Pink Lady licensees automatically embed this thinking within their consumer brand activity, and product quality verification and monitoring processes.
As brand owner, APAL will support a tighter and more consistent approach to upholding our standards and introduce resources and campaigns which make this something consumers value and will want to invest in. Some of this involves capturing brand insights within new and emerging markets to aid better decision making, and offer more efficient deployment of local resources to help the brand expand quickly and professionally.
We are looking forward to the first elements of this work emerging in 2017, and to assisting our Australian growers to access the benefits of a strong global Pink Lady brand, as our exporting capabilities in Australia continue to grow.