Jazz apples have quickly built up a niche following in Thailand over recent years, driven by the extensive marketing efforts of importer Vachamon and its supply partner T&G/Enza, which owns the rights to the variety.
But Vachamon is not resting on its laurels. By its own admission, sales of Jazz are heavily concentrated on Bangkok and cities within a three-hour reach of the Thai capital, and the importer recently took a roadshow promotion to key regional provinces to expand the apple’s profile.
“We want to sell Jazz on a national scale and boost our import volumes,” Vachamon’s managing director Wipavee Watcharakorn told Asiafruit. “Volumes have been quite stable for the past couple of years, with around 300 container loads coming in from New Zealand, and 100 container loads from France and the US.”
Accompanied by Jazz ambassador – Thai actor Lek Teeradetch – Vachamon’s roadshow targeted three key regions during August: Chiang Mai, Udonthani and Phuket.
Chiang Mai, the largest city in northeast Thailand, has a population of 1m in the metropolitan region.
Udonthani, another major official and commercial centre in the northeast of the country, is a gateway to Laos and southern Vietnam. The city has population of almost 400,000 while the province is home to more than 1.5m people.
Meanwhile, popular tourist destination Phuket is Thailand’s largest island. Its population of 600,000 people, a mix of international expats, migrants and locals, has significant buying power.
In each region, Vachamon has adopted a three-pronged marketing campaign with activities spanning morning, afternoon and evening.
“In the morning, we visited the wholesalers at the wholesale market and went to the popular wet markets in each city. We introduced Jazz to the merchants and handed out free samples for tasting,” said Watcharakorn.
“In the early afternoon, we held retail promotions at Big C in Chiang Mai, Makro in Udonthani and Tesco in Phuket. We worked with all of the retailers to host activities and games in their fresh produce departments and run consumer promotions,” she continued.
“In the evening, we visited the walking streets (pedestrian areas) of each city to meet and greet local consumers.”
On the back of the roadshow activities, Vachamon has also put systems in place further support the campaign and expand sales.
In Chiang Mai, Vachamon has recruited a regional manager to build a continuous business for the company in the city. “Our manager visits the market every week, bringing regular samples to the merchants for free tastings and getting the promotions set up with retailers,” said Watcharakorn.
Vachamon’s new distribution hub in Khonkaen, located two hours from Udonthani, is due to open soon, and Watcharakorn says it can also be utilised to serve the wholesale market in Udonthani.
In Phuket, Vachamon is focused on working with key distributors as well as cash and carry chain Makro to ensure smaller merchants have access to its fruit.
Vachamon has set up a redemption programme with Makro stores in all three regions. Under the promotion, which is due to kick off next month, customers who purchase 300 cartons of Jazz apples within a month receive a free Jazz apple suitcase.
With such operations and activities in place to support sales, Watcharakorn is confident the provincial regions can help to grow Jazz volumes in Thailand by around 30 container loads per year.