Apple marketers say they love social media, but they note there’s a problem: overcrowding.
“Consumers have more information at their fingertips than ever before, and we all know how crowded the online space is,” said Brianna Shales, communications manager with Wenatchee, Wash.-based Stemilt Growers LLC.
That’s why it’s necessary to do everything possible to stand apart from that crowd, Shales said.
In Stemilt’s case, versatility helps, she said.
“We work to win one consumer over at a time with our brand and do so through achieving our mission of delighting them with the fruit we produce,” she said.
“Consumers eat apples for a fresh snack the majority of the time, so we want to appeal to that fact by offering up inspiration to incorporate apples into their everyday life.”
Stemilt also emphasizes the user-friendliness of apples in its social media messages, Shales said.
“Apples are a super-convenient fruit — let’s make sure they are in backpacks, in the lunch people take to the office, and on-the-go with today’s busy consumers,” she said.
The Lansing-based Michigan Apple Committee put a specialty crop block grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to use in building online engagement with consumers, said Diane Smith, executive director.
“The grant funds have allowed us to focus our work and target markets and audiences for increased engagement,” Smith said.
“We have found social media to be incredibility helpful in educating consumers about apple varieties and uses, as well as about apple production in general. Videos, influencers and compelling graphics are important tactics that we will continue to use online.”
Yakima, Wash.-based Sage Fruit Co. also is getting a lot of clicks, said Chuck Sinks, president of sales and marketing.
“We’ve seen a rise in website visits and e-mail subscribers this year, while also adding texting capability to engage with consumers,” Sinks said.
“By driving consumers to our website through our social channels we have been able to increase our overall conversation with them — it’s a full-circle approach. In addition, we’ve been working with influencers and media personalities to engage with consumers.”
The online strategy at Wenatchee, Wash.-based Oneonta Starr Ranch involves “a little of everything,” said Dan Davis, business development coordinator for the grower-shipper.
“We’re finding new ways to engage with consumers and that connection is enabling us to focus our efforts on behalf of retail,” he said.
Showcasing unique products is central to the online planning at Elgin, Minn.-based Honeybear Brands, said Don Roper, vice president of sales and marketing.
“Our strategy with Pazazz, in particular, is to differentiate ourselves by using descriptors, key words and phrases that trigger an emotion and desired personality alignment with consumers instead of just calling out the same attributes like fresh and sweet (that are) commonly used,” he said.
“‘Bold, Bright & Juicy’ not only describes our apple, but it’s intended to draw in consumers who desire that same confidence and joie de vivre.”
Honeybear Brands is reaching “millions of consumers” on social media with its “Life gets more flavorful” campaign targeting female shoppers within a 5-mile radius of stores that carry Pazazz apples, Roper said.
The Fishers-based New York Apple Association has “amped up” its social media activity, said Cynthia Haskins, president and CEO.
“We are able to target specific markets and audiences as we showcase our ‘how to’ recipes with high-resolution images and bring consumers closer to the growers who grow the apples through a series of New York apple grower videos,” she said.
“The videos give consumers an opportunity to meet growers through the videos as well as get a glimpse of apple orchards.”
Gardners, Pa.-based grower-shipper Rice Fruit Co. has trained its social-media strategy on education and customer engagement, said Brenda Briggs, vice president of sales and marketing.
“We share stories from the orchard throughout the various stages of the growing cycle, share family-oriented recipes, promote contests, and show who we are as a company,” she said.
Instagram, a popular social-media platform, started hiding aggregate “like” totals on posts in 2019, which could hinder apple-marketing efforts on that popular platform, said Catherine Gipe-Stewart, communications manager with Yakima, Wash.-based Domex Superfresh Growers.
“It has been slowly rolling out but will change how consumers interact with brands in 2020, once the full roll-out is complete,” she said.
Whatever happens, marketers say they will continue to find ways to reach consumers on social media.
“Engaging with consumers is very important for us because we care about what they say, and we want them to know that we hear them,” said Tony Freytag, CEO of Cashmere, Wash.-based Crunch Pak.
“Strategically, we are focusing a lot on brand partnerships and brand promotions. This allows us to work with several brands that complement our product categories, thus engagement from consumers is bountiful..”