Pathways to boosting apple and pear consumption

There are many paths to increasing apple and pear consumption – the ultimate target of levy-funded marketing activities. Hort Innovation’s Olivia Grey shares an update of targeted marketing activities part of the 2018 marketing campaign for apples and pears.

Apples advertising wrapping up
Most of the above-the-line advertising – advertising that targets a broad range of consumers via mass media (i.e. TV, print radio and the internet) – for Aussie Apples wrapped up at the end of August. The final report of the campaign will be published in the next edition of Australian Fruitgrower.

As part of the four weeks of TV advertising that aired from July to August, the Aussie Apples TV commercial featured in some of the most popular TV shows including The Bachelor, Survivor, Ninja Warrior and Masterchef.

The Aussie Apples and Australian Pears display at the Royal Queensland Show, Ekka, where samples of apples and pears, juice and slinkies were all handed out to an appreciative audience looking for a healthy alternative.

Apples public relations
Hort Innovation has a public relations (PR) strategy for Aussie Apples that aims to extend the reach of paid advertising and promotions to earned coverage across traditional media, social media, and blogs. The Aussie Apples public relations strategy seeks to inspire people to use apples for different snacking occasions and for cooking, and to educate consumers about the health benefits of apples.

To support this work, last year Hort Innovation engaged nutritionist Dr Joanna McMillan as an influential health spokesperson to help review and communicate research results related to apples. Following the positive results from the work, Hort Innovation has renewed its partnership with Joanna.

In a media release titled Four reasons you should never peel an apple, Joanna summarised recent research regarding the benefits of eating apples with the skin on. The release was distributed in August and has already achieved some positive coverage including in The Daily Mail and Babyology.

Several studies published in the past year have highlighted the wide-ranging health benefits of apple polyphenols – a large group of natural, plant chemicals that are more concentrated in the apple skin.

In the release Joanna said: "Apples are full of nutritional goodness, and apple polyphenols are becoming the stand-out compound that holds the key to many of the fruit’s health benefits. The latest science has found apple polyphenols may have a role to play in weight loss and stopping the growth of cancer cells. Emerging research also shows they may even slow the progression of osteoarthritis.
Like green tea and blueberries, apples are rich in polyphenols. The polyphenols are found in both the white flesh and the skin of apples. However, there are two and a half times as many antioxidants, including polyphenols, in the apple skin."

So crunching on a juicy apple, skin and all, could actually be the healthiest way to eat this super fruit.

Another component of the PR campaign is working with health and food social ‘influencers’ – people with a high profile who write, talk or otherwise communicate, particularly across social media, with large audiences interested in listening to them.

Hort Innovation is working with influencers to create compelling content focusing on snacking, food trends and health. This content is shared through the influencer’s own channels to reach their engaged audience. The content is also pitched to traditional media outlets to drive wider coverage.

Hort Innovation has partnered with three influencers in the areas of health and food – Jessica Sepel, Leah Itsines and Amy Whiteford – who appeal to millennials and mums, which are the key target audiences for Aussie Apples.

Jessica Sepel is a leading nutritionist and one of Australia’s most well-known health influencers. She has a strong media pull, especially in the health and wellness space, with an Instagram following of almost 200,000. She has created a delicious apple, pecan and date muffin with caramel sauce recipe that she has published on her Instagram. This recipe has also been picked up by Body+Soul magazine and shared across their Facebook and Instagram accounts.

Apple, pecan and date muffins created by health influencer Jessica Sepel who has shared the recipe with her nearly 200,000 Instagram followers. The recipe has also been picked up by Body+Soul magazine and shared across their Facebook and Instagram accounts.

In-store pear sampling
Towards the end of 2017, Hort Innovation conducted in-store sampling in Woolworths and Coles. Brand ambassadors served wedges of Packham pears to shoppers with the aim of increasing awareness of pears and educating shoppers on ripening techniques and growing regions.

Consumer feedback has highlighted that the lack of knowledge about pear ripening is a barrier to purchase. A key focus of the sampling program is educating consumers on pear ripening so they have the confidence they can get the best from their pears.

There were 286 sampling sessions that were conducted across Woolworths and Coles nationally between November 2017 and January 2018. As reported in In-store pear tasting boosts sales by 24 per cent (Australian Fruitgrower, Apr/May 2018), Woolworths stores showed a 24 per cent increase in overall pear sales in the stores where sampling occurred compared to the previous four weeks. And there was a 66 per cent increase in 1kg sales of prepacked pears.

Due to the great results, a further 200 sampling sessions were conducted nationally across Woolworths and Coles in August and September 2018. The objectives were to drive awareness of pears in-store to keep them top-of-mind at the point of purchase, educate consumers to give them the confidence to choose ripe pears or ripen them at home, increase varietal awareness, and, ultimately, to drive sales.

The execution involved displaying the major pear varieties to explain their difference in flavour, ripening and seasonality, as well as sampling wedges of Packham pears. Demonstrators also handed out leaflets that contained information on ripening, the different varieties, seasonality and recipe tips.

The initial feedback on the campaign has been positive. Consumers appreciated the information on the leaflets and enjoyed the taste of Packham pears. More results from the sampling campaign will be provided in the next edition.

Ekka – The Royal Queensland Show
Aussie Apples and Australian Pears were again present at the Ekka show, with a fresh and visually engaging exhibit in the busy Woolworths Fresh Food Pavilion.

This year, approximately 400,000 attendees enjoyed the show over 10 days.

They were able to purchase whole apples and pears, slinkies and apple juice. In addition, sampling of Pink Lady®, Jazz™ and Granny Smith apples and Packham pears was conducted to drive varietal education. In total, over 16,000 apple and pear wedges were sampled, accompanied by leaflets containing information about varieties, seasonality and recipe tips. The Aussie Apples mascot Mr Crunch also made regular appearances each day and was a huge draw card, especially with kids.

Feedback from attendees was incredibly positive, with crowds queuing to find out more about apples and pears. Show-goers appreciated that there was a healthy snack alternative present at the show and enjoyed the information in the leaflets that were handed out.

Export: Taste Australia
In the 2017/18 financial year, Australian Apples were promoted in Thailand through the Taste Australia program in Tops stores. The retailer imported three containers of Pink Lady apples which was supported by an in-store sampling program with branded materials. Education and training were significant components of the program, which included sessions on storage, handling and product ripeness. In addition, media activity included a cooking demonstration on the Food Stylist Facebook page and website.

Additional in-store sampling of Australian apples and pears in Hong Kong took place in May and June 2018. Retailers Park N Shop and Wellcome hosted the sampling across 19 stores. Park N Shop sampling drove an increase of 327 per cent in sales compared to a period without sampling, and Wellcome sampling drove an increase in sales of 52 per cent compared to a period without sampling.
Australian pears were also showcased in Thailand through the Taste Australia program, with in-store sampling with branded materials supporting activity in Tops, Makro, Tesco, The Mall, Villa and Future Park Department Store (Zpeel).

Education and training of retailers was a significant component of the program which included sessions on storage, handling and product ripeness. Feedback from market was that importers and retailers were dumping pears if soft or yellowing. This training was effective in decreasing waste and increasing understanding of product diversity, quality, nutrition and eating experience.

Media outcomes aimed to increase awareness of pears through cooking events with media gift baskets and cross promotion with other Australian products such as pears in salads and desserts. This content was published on the websites and Facebook pages of Somethingcooked and Food Stylist.

A shopper in Hong Kong making the most of the Australian Pears – Taste Australia promotion.

These industry marketing initiatives are managed by Hort Innovation and are funded by the apple and pear marketing levy. This content has been prepared by the Hort Innovation apple and pear team.

For more information:
Olivia Grey
Tel: +61 02 8295 2387 

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