Kanako Inomata has scooped the first New Zealand Kiwifruit Industry Innovation Trophy.
The head of marketing for Zespri in Japan was recognised for her outstanding innovation achievements, which saw Zespri kiwifruit sales grow in Japan – already its number one market.
Zespri general manager global marketing Jiunn Shih said that Inomata challenged convention and took a marketing approach that put the fruit at the centre of the consumers’ minds.
“For many years, our marketing relied on using well-known celebrities to promote the product,” Shih said. “Through her work in consumer research and insights, Kanako recognised while this had positive short-term impact, it failed to build the Zespri brand toward its potential, with consumers remembering the celebrity more than the product they’re promoting.”
Instead of going for costly celebrity endorsements, Inomata launched the ‘Kiwifruit Brothers’ – two mascots used to increase brand awareness of Zespri in Japan through in-store displays, an animated TV commercial, fruit sampling, packaging and using 13,000 sets of the mascots.
“The execution of the programme has been excellent, supported by new ways of understanding consumer insights that we are now sharing with other Zespri markets. Through breaking a long-standing marketing approach, Kanako has found a way to engage with younger consumers in Japan and open up significant new potential to grow Zespri sales,” added Shih.
Despite being a mature market and Zespri’s leading global market for years, the New Zealand single-desk marketer grew sales 30 per cent between 2015 an 2017, and is planning to grow sales a further 25 per cent in coming years.