Southeast Asia is an increasingly important market for Pink Lady®, including both existing and emerging markets. Following a recent trip to the region APAL’s Craig Chester shares his insights.
To develop new markets for Pink Lady®, APAL and its European licensee Star Fruits have established a joint venture company, Pink Lady Development Limited. Pink Lady Development is funded from a portion of royalties collected from Pink Lady apples imported into the United Kingdom and the European Union along with royalties collected on Pink Lady apples in new markets. The focus for Pink Lady Development has been Southeast Asia, China, Brazil and the Middle East centred on the United Arab Emirates. All funds are invested in market development, licensing, shopper marketing and promotional activities to increase awareness and purchasing of Pink Lady branded apples.
Pink Lady Development is actively developing many countries in Southeast Asia as export opportunities for those interested in diversifying their markets.
Formal peer-to-peer licensing has been established for Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Hong Kong and, most recently, India. (Peer-to-peer is the term given to the requirement that both the exporter and the importer must be licensed and can only work with licensed entities in order to ship Pink Lady branded apples from country to country.)
In these markets there are Pink Lady licensed importers, marketing agencies, resources and retail partners. Awareness of the brand among consumers is around 60 per cent – a result of investments made in shopper marketing since 2013. We have also conditionally allowed exporters to trial programs in Indonesia, Brunei, Taiwan, Cambodia, Laos, the Philippines and Bangladesh.
Within the established markets, Pink Lady Development works with licensed importers who are willing to invest their companies’ time and resources into developing the Pink Lady brand, who uphold and protect Pink Lady quality standards, and who have proven mechanisms in-market to consistently sell large quantities of Pink Lady apples.
State of trade
Brand awareness in Southeast Asia continues to climb. Pink Lady Development commissioned Hall & Partners’ OpenMind approach to conduct quantitative research to benchmark shopper metrics in 2017. Results were incredibly positive for the brand, revealing 60 per cent of shoppers in Malaysia were aware of Pink Lady and 58 per cent in Thailand. More than 70 per cent of those who try the product in both countries go on to purchase it – many of them regularly. The belief that Asian palates want only sweet flavour profiles is unfounded. In fact, availability of the product is the only barrier holding Pink Lady from one day realising United Kingdom levels of market share.
Below is a summary of my recent visit to Malaysia and Singapore with some insights from importers and retailers where we discussed developing programs to continue developing the brand and its status as a premium apple in Asia.
Pink Lady achieves premium retail prices in Malaysia. This is a result of the annual availability of high-colour, high-quality product from New Zealand. Sizes have also been suitable for bags that are commonly used throughout Malaysia in retail stores. There has also been interest in larger-size apples sold loose from Chile, and we hope to continue to develop this source of supply to complement New Zealand and South Africa.
Consumer demand for high-quality, high-colour fruit has helped Southeast Asia and, particularly, Malaysia avoid some of the quality challenges experienced in other emerging markets. Product in retail is of good to excellent quality at premium prices. However, price elasticity is higher there than in Thailand.
Pink Lady Development appointed ReedWorks as a full-service agency in Malaysia (and recently for Thailand) to manage retailer and shopper marketing creative and connecting in-store activity to digital marketing, which we find is critical in Asian markets where traditional media consumption is dropping.
Pink Lady Development and APAL have trimmed back the number of licensed importers in Singapore. This is providing valued importers such as Benelux a sense of greater ownership of the brand, allowing them to form stronger trading relationships with their customers Cold Storage and NTUC. We have seen volumes increase in the past 12 months despite challenges in securing Northern Hemisphere supply last season.
As in Malaysia, demand for high-colour quality product has helped establish Singapore as a premium destination for Pink Lady apples. We have recently seen NTUC FairPrice match and often
exceed the quality position once held exclusively in Singapore by Cold Storage. Its support for branded apples and premium packaging formats has been a key contributor to this turnaround.
New Pink Lady® licensee databaseFinally, the new licensee database listing all licensed Pink Lady® exporters and importer worldwide has been launched. It is accessible through the new Pink Lady website, www.pinkladyapples.com.