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Thai importer ramps up apple promotions

Major retailers Tesco, Big C and Makro have been getting behind Thai importer Vachamonís high-profile promotions for Jazz and Envy apples

Thai importer ramps up apple promotions

Shoppers buying Jazz or Envy apples at Tesco could win a trip to New Zealand

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Thai fruit importer Vachamon Food has intensified its consumer promotions for Jazz and Envy apples in Thailand in recent months, enlisting strong support from the country’s major retail chains Tesco Lotus, Big C and Makro, according to managing director Wipavee Watcharakorn. 

Tesco has led the charge, last month purchasing 1m Jazz apples to give away to shoppers. Under the promotion, which ran for just two days on 7-8 October, Tesco gave away Jazz apples to any customer with a receipt to show they’d purchased fresh foods in its hypermarket stores.

Tesco launched the Jazz apple giveaway to help boost fresh food sales in its hypermarket stores, but the promotion played a key role in raising awareness of the premium variety, according to Watcharakorn.

“Tesco placed a very big ad in the newspapers for the promotion, and also promoted it  with messages on Facebook and Line – it has more than 3m Facebook followers and over 10m friends on Line,” she explained. 

Tesco has also launched of raft of promotional activities for Jazz and Envy with Vachamon. During October and November, Vachamon is sponsoring a lucky draw promotion that gives Tesco customers who buy a pack of Jazz or Envy apples the chance to win a trip to New Zealand. “There are three prizes to win – and each winner gets two free tickets, including flights, accommodation, farm visits and a trip to Queenstown,” said Watcharakorn. 

In–store samplings and activities also form a key part of the promotions with Tesco. “We’ve done 200 sampling sessions for Envy apples across the course of the season,” she said. “We also held roadshow events with Tesco at their Pattaya and Ramintra stores, where our brand ambassador has led promotional activities.”

But Tesco is not the only retailer to get on board with the promotions. Hypermarket chain Big C launched a viral video advertisement at its head office store opposite Central World, Bangkok’s biggest shopping centre, in September. “Our first video had over 650,000 views in one month and we are now launching a second one,” said Watcharakorn.

Big C has also advertised Envy and Jazz apples in its in-house magazine throughout this year and offered some price discounts to attract new customers to try the premium varieties.

Meanwhile, cash and carry chain Makro has launched a promotion where its top three wholesale customers for Jazz apples win a package tour to Tokyo, including flights and hotel. The eight-week campaign, which is running from October to the end of November, aims to more than double sales of Jazz during this period.

Makro has also held samplings for Jazz and Envy in 16 stores nationwide, including in-store activities with Jazz brand ambassador, Thai actor Lek Teeradej, in Korat Province. Korat is home to the major wholesale market for Thailand’s northeast.

In addition to partnering with major retailers, Vachamon has worked with Teeradej on its own roadshow events to promote Jazz and Envy directly to consumers. “We’re running more than 50 roadshow events each year, and each event runs from four days to 10 days,” details Watcharakorn. “Our sales from these activities are around Bt50m each year.”

Rebuilding confidence

Vachamon has redoubled its promotional efforts on Jazz and Envy this year to boost market confidence following a difficult season in terms of quality in 2015, and to help combat tough trading conditions resulting from the sluggish economy in South East Asia.

“We had quite a few complaints from customers last year regarding lack of crunch and low colour on Jazz,” she said. “Also, the Envy crop in 2015 wasn’t too good and we lost some money towards the end of the season. This year, our import window was shorter so we had to work harder to market the fruit.”

Quality has been much improved this year, although Watcharakorn says there has been a shortage of Jazz apples in the preferred sizes. 

While Envy sells at a premium in Thailand compared with other apple varieties, Vachamon has sought to make it more affordable to mainstream consumers. 

“We promote smaller sizes of Envy so it can be an apple for everyone, not just the rich,” Watcharakorn said. “We need to work closely with the retailers and broaden the customer base while at the same time ensuring the retailers do not sell the apple below cost. We still restrict sales of certain sizes to the wholesaler higher-end segment, so the exclusivity remains for those very large sizes, which sell at premium prices.”

Overall sales of New Zealand Jazz and Envy have fallen slightly short of last year’s levels. Altogether, Vachamon has imported around 225 containers of Jazz, down from 265 containers last year and 98 containers of Envy, compared with 120 containers in 2015.

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