In the Gulf, the Covid-19 crisis has forced most brands to limit their marketing expenditure at this time, but Pink Lady apples are one of the exceptions, according to David O’Brien, managing director of LucaZara, which manages the Pink Lady brand in the region.
“Recently, we embarked on a very aggressive campaign for Pink Lady across the six Gulf states,” he said. “We went to the bigger, most frequented retailers, with instore promotions respecting the social distancing requirements, which meant none of the usual sampling and tasting stations. Instead we did some extraordinary branding efforts instore with signage, off-location displays, floor stickers and more 'bells and whistles', but no people – all branding signage.”
The result, he said, was impressive, with all stores reporting significant sales growth. “Many have restricted their marketing spend, but Pink Lady was the exception,” said O’Brien. “Not only have we continued, we’ve ramped it up.”
Of course, with the Covid-19 crisis continuing, many opportunities for promotion are no longer available, including the Dubai Marathon, which the brand has sponsored for years. “Dubai was also supposed to be hosting Expo 2020,” said O’Brien. “If that happens, as we truly hope it will, Pink Lady will be a product sponsor in the Australian pavilion.”
One of the main challenges for Pink Lady in the Gulf, he said, was to make retailers understand the benefits they can derive from having Pink Lady apples on their shelves.
“We’re now spending all our money and putting all our attention on the consumer, both with and for the retailers and importers,” he explained. “So we just want Pink Lady to be available from all retail outlets, so that our constant marketing support, including branding instore and on social media, can make the difference.”
While Covid-19 has offered a bump in sales through the region’s modern retailers, with Pink Lady apples seeing a double-digit increase and with e-commerce taking off, sales through other channels have been flat.
“Other sectors are down,” said O’Brien. “The foodservice sector is very shy of normal activity with few business travellers or tourists. In Saudi Arabia, Pink Lady continues to grow, as it does in other Gulf states. Kuwait has significant potential for growth moving forward.”
With Pink Lady’s market share around 5 per cent in the Gulf, there remains significant room for further development. “We invest in the brand with our local stakeholders,” said O’Brien. “We have a great story, great quality, a ‘wow’ taste and constant supply across all seasons, and our offer is something truly special. So with continued marketing support and no compromising on quality, Pink Lady is here for the future.”
Of course, the current global uncertainty makes predicting the future difficult. “The situation is very uncertain,” conceded O’Brien. “We all assume a sense of normality will at some point return, but I suspect some things will change forever. Many people have been able to adjust to working from home and holding meetings online, and productivity has not dropped as expected – in fact it has improved.”