Orchardists told to think outside the box with marketing

An Okanagan College marketing professor instructed B.C.’s fruit growers on Friday in Penticton on capturing a larger share of the market,

Rick Appleby

An Okanagan College marketing professor instructed B.C.’s fruit growers on Friday in Penticton on capturing a larger share of the market,

Adding value is key, said Rick Appleby, marketing professor in the college’s Okanagan School of Business, but he said it’s also important to know your customers; their needs and interests; and what they have to spend.

By persuading your customer there’s added value to your product, they’re more likely to be willing to pay more for it, he explained.

Prior to his presentation to growers, he said he did a little market research and discovered only 60 per cent of his students buy apples every week.

The reason, he found, was that apples weren’t available for sale nearby.

“Why weren’t they available?” he asked. Millions could be sold to students alone, he said.

In addition, he found that lots of restaurants don’t have apple dishes on their menus. “Something’s missing,” he noted.

As well, he said retailers are consolidating, exchange rates have weakened, fuel costs are increasing and world production is increasing.

But, he said the good news is that the industry is developing new varieties; there’s room for the industry to grow in domestic markets; the population is increasing; there’s increasing support for the buy-local movement; and there is support for socially and environmentally-responsible businesses.

He advised growers to capitalize more on their long history of recognition for the Okanagan and B.C. brand. It’s also important to optimize quality, he said, and to build relationships.

Growers should think outside the box in marketing apples. Take a familiar, well-known brand and think of it in terms of local fruit, such as StarBob’s Apple Outlets, he suggested with a grin.

Market apples as a healthy snack for after exercising, for example, he said. He advised that just a five per cent increase in loyalty can equate to a 95 per cent increase in product sales.

jsteeves@kelownacapnews.com