In an era dominated by all things online and social media, the growers of Chelan Fresh are building buzz for their new SugarBee® apple with some old-school guerrilla marketing: they are bringing consumers together to experience the apple in in real life.
Since SugarBee apples hit the market in September, Chelan Fresh has hosted dozens of SugarBee-themed community events, all designed to get the new apple in the hands and mouths of consumers. “At a time when we’re being driven to live online, it has been energizing and gratifying to make real connections with real people, who are hungry to know more about us and what we do to bring food to their tables,” said Chelan Fresh’s Director of Retail Strategy Julie DeJarnatt.
Events create SugarBee fandom
SugarBee growers from Chelan Fresh have taken their show on the road, hosting 75 in-store events so far to share the SugarBee story – and samples of SugarBee apples and cider – with shoppers. They have been joined by SugarBee’s honeybee mascot, the now-famous bee behind the apple.
The SugarBee brand also hosted a tailgate for football fans at this year’s Apple Cup, the annual rivalry between Washington State University and University of Washington.
Brand strategy includes unique PLU sticker
Chelan Fresh’s SugarBee events are part of a coordinated retail push-pull strategy to get the apple in front of retailer decision makers while also building consumer demand, notes DeJarnatt. For example, Chelan Fresh’s Apple Cup tailgate was supported with radio advertisements driving listeners to SugarBee-stocking area retailers.
In store, retailers can drive shopper traffic to their SugarBee displays using eye-catching point of sale materials including signs and free-standing displays, as well as brochures and other customer SWAG available from Chelan Fresh. The brand’s unique price look-up sticker is particularly attention-grabbing.
“SugarBee apples are easy to spot because our PLU sticker has a distinctive honeycomb design,” said DeJarnatt. “That was very intentional, to help shoppers find us with certainty.”
Recognizing that an increasing number of customers are now shopping online, “We are also working to reach the customer who is no longer coming into the store,” DeJarnatt said, noting that Chelan Fresh is working with retail partners to ensure that SugarBee is visible through their online stores, website content and social media channels.
Taste testers buzz about SugarBee
SugarBee has also generated buzz in taste tests. One major retailer’s panel of tasters gave SugarBee an “outstanding” ranking of 8.1 out of 9 for “Overall Liking.”
That retailer also reported that SugarBee is the only produce item so far that 100 percent of testers rated as meeting their expectations; in fact, 62 percent of those taste testers said SugarBee exceeded their expectations.
The apple’s appealing flavor, DeJarnatt reported, has opened the door with several new retail accounts. “They are beating the door down to be able to sell this apple, it’s really something to behold,” she said.