When it comes to promoting Avocados from Peru, Xavier Equihua often starts with classic marketing tactics and then transforms them into unique strategies.
â€œWe try to do things differently,â€ said the president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based Peruvian Avocado Commission.
For example, instead of using big-city billboards to tout avocados, the commission wraps whole public transit buses in key routes with messaging that characterizes avocados from Peru as â€œThe Summer Avocado,â€ and tags them with both the name of a retailer and the country brand of Peru.
In-store demos are another popular marketing tactic for avocados. But instead of setting up a handful of demos in a few select supermarkets, Equihua scheduled multiple waves of 700 to 1,000 demos during a weekend day at Wal-Mart and other locations at the height of the Peruvian season this summer.Â
â€œWe also stay away from promoting avocados with guacamole, as that use is a given,â€ he said. â€œWe co-market our product demos with healthy, trending foods in order to fully complement the health benefits of avocados.â€
At Samâ€™s Clubs across the country, the commission scheduled several three-way demos, including one pairing avocados from Peru and sprouted quinoa salad with Trinchero cabernet sauvignon of Napa Valley.
For the second year in a row, the Peruvian Avocado Commission worked with the U.S. Navy to host a superfoods breakfast.
This yearâ€™s breakfast included avocados and other Peruvian superfoods, such as blueberries, served to the 2,000 men and women of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps aboard the USS Bataan during the annual New York City Fleet Week.
Suggested uses have become an increasingly common way to promote avocados, but Equihua wasnâ€™t satisfied with just developing a handful of recipes. He worked with international chefs to develop a 150-page cookbook that was launched on the Avocados from Peru website last summer.
The cookbook has chalked up thousands of downloads on the commissionâ€™s site as well as platforms like ISSUU and iBooks. Wal-Mart and Costco have offered the cookbook as a free download too.
During the coming off-season, Equihua plans to meet with publishers that have expressed an interest in producing hard copies of the cookbook.
Another initiative that Equihua undertook this season was to showcase a series of recipes titled â€œAvocados from Peru in Bloom,â€ an interpretation by famed Dutch food sculptor Colette Dike that uses avocados in the shape of roses and ribbons for its social media platforms and various demos and events planned this summer.
Consumer advertising is another way to reach potential users of a fruit or vegetable, but Equihua nixed the idea of using food or cooking publications. Instead, he turned to other vehicles to reach perhaps the most highly desirable demographic for avocados â€” women interested in health, beauty and fashion
Avocados from Peru are the first produce item ever to advertise in the summer issues of Vogue and Vanity Fair magazines, he said.
Feedback from the ads has been very positive, he said, judging from the flood of e-mails and the â€œlikesâ€ they have generated. The ad was also the first in both publications to be tagged with the names of a supermarket where avocados from Peru were available.
The fact that avocados from Peru have a diverse global presence has helped ignite a creative spark in promoting them, Equihua said.
â€œWe are cross-pollinating ideas that are coming from both sides of the Atlantic,â€ he said.
â€œThis has given us a different perspective, which we use to stretch both our funds and marketing concepts.â€
Equihua recently was decorated by the government of Peru at a ceremony in the presidential palace with the Order of Merit for his work on behalf of the Peruvian agricultural sector.