This column first appeared in the October issue of Produce Business magazine.
Public relations... The language of reaching out to different parts of our consumer base.
The team at British Apples and Pears -- the UK’s marketing organisation supporting the country’s apple growers -- never rests, and the campaign has for the past two years been focussing on the ‘Goodness to Go’ message -- raising awareness of how great, packaging-free, healthy and portable our British apples are. Working with arange of social media influencers (people with thousands of followers) the GrEAT British Apples message has been successfully placed in front of a new, broader audience, reintroducing the key message: #AnAppleaDay
Moving on from just focusing on the much-maligned Millennials and an older family-based demographic, the ‘an apple a day’ campaign is speaking to Generation X – those making decisions for their young family, setting healthy eating habits for more than one lifetime. Also, part of the new focus is Generation Y, those who have the potential to reset long term health habits and wellness expectations, those who eschew alcohol, possibly meat and dairy too in pursuit of a long and healthy life.
These are the two audiences who campaign against packaging and waste. They want to move away from processed food, and they truly care about where their food comes from. This group of consumers is engaged in a social agenda along with a healthy one, so this is our crucial audience when it comes to growing demand for British top fruit
Might our secret to success also lie in a trend for snacks that are under 100 calories? Just think of the advantage that apples have, with no plastic wrapping. Recent research has shown that the average Brit (and it is easy to suppose this is a western cultural norm) is consuming upwards of 1400 extra calories outside of mealtimes, per day, every day... That is a massive excess of intake!
What a challenge and opportunity for the produce industry, what a gift for the top fruit sector with a portable snack, hydrating, good-for-gut health, and with a myriad of other benefits to health. Consumers could cut thousands of calories a week by just grabbing a couple of apples to take with them each day. Just think of how much weight they could lose and what the benefit would be to the public health budget, such as how many sick days could be reduced by the reduction of obesity-related health issues.
The cultural change required is a big one. It does fit with the UK’s sugar tax on soda and the UK government’s stated aims for a future food policy. And now with the British Apple and Pear industry gearing up to achieving 60% of the market by 2030 with year-round availability of domestic apples, the product will be there to achieve this.
As an industry, produce has never been very good in enthusing our consumers. We often are criticised for not being ever quite aware enough, never quite on message, never quite entertaining and certainly not speaking the language of our key consumers. With so many communication channels at our disposal, such fabulous-looking products and beautiful growing locations, the whole of produce, let alone top fruit, has perfect natural collateral for marketing. Partner that with proven health benefits, greater availability, great human-interest stories about those who are involved in the sector, it makes for good copy, easily communicated through social and print media.
We need to invest now, and we cannot be silent. It is time to make a noise in the right way and excite consumers, especially the ones who aren’t our customers yet.
Perhaps now it is time for us to be a little less bloke about our communication strategies and a little more woke?
PiP Ltd. is a business partnership and marketing agency offering tailored services to bring alive the unique personality of the client, business or product. Led by Sarah Calcutt, who has 25 years’ experience throughout the fresh produce supply chain working both at primary production level, through technical, marketing and now leading a grower group and working for industry bodies In her spare time she chairs the National Fruit Show in the UK, it’s all about them apples!