The popular narrative of “next-level growth from Tier 2, 3 cities” in the Indian marketing and business industry has been a constant for quite some time now. And, next in line to stamp it is an American brand, Washington Apples, who’s now betting on the small and medium-sized Indian cities and has jumped on to the vernacular-demand bandwagon through its refreshed plans and goals.
“India market is positioned for more growth because we are seeing the demand coming now from Tier 2, 3 cities. Imported apples were earlier limited to metropolitan cities are now beginning to find foot in smaller and medium-sized cities. We feel these cities will get far more traction and volume. Currently, the volume of imported apples in India is around 350,000 metric tonnes and Washington Apples has around 40% share. I don’t think there are many origins in the world that can match the scale of Washington Apples to supply to a market like India, which is so diversified and spread over”, Sumit Saran, the India Representative for Washington Apple Commission, tells me.
Saran also stated that Apple is not a winter-only fruit anymore in India and the company is eyeing sales in the period when local players cannot deliver.
“We grew up eating apples in winters, but my daughter has no idea that apple is a winter fruit. Now, Indians are consuming apples round the year. The shipment of Washington Apples speaks for itself in March-August period when there is no season for Indian apples. The category size for apples has increased. Indian consumers are demanding apples throughout the year.”
To accelerate its growth vision in India, Washington Apples has announced Bollywood actress Disha Patani and Chef Sanjeev Kapoor as its ambassadors.
“Disha brings the connect with the youth and millennials while we wanted to bring on board the most trusted voice in India when it comes to food – Sanjeev Kapoor as well. When he says that these apples are good for health, no one will question an authority like him”, Saran said.
He also shared that Kapoor went all the way to the United States to get in-depth understanding about the product and its making before giving a nod for the endorsement. “Sanjeev isn’t someone who will say good things for the sake of saying just because he’s the brand ambassador. He went to Washington to see the production, quality and the perspective. He checked on our marketing plans for India during the apples’ season. He doesn’t do endorsements that easily and endorsed us only when he was convinced! So, we have a mix of Sanjiv & Disha to bring the wholesome strength.”
On brand’s marketing plan, Saran said, “It’ll be a mix of ATL and BTL activities. We are supporting a lot of retail sampling and many such programs so that the people get a taste of apples. Digital is going to be substantial. Media and marketing plan still has to be worked out. We are looking to start working on it in March sometime.”
“We are in for unique times where we are creating opportunities that we’ve never experienced before. One of those opportunities is to get celebrities to support our brand. It is important because it takes us to a new level. Most of our activities our Below The Line as of now. By the end of this year and early next year, we will take the ATL route with Sanjiv & Disha at its core”, Todd Fryhover, President, Washington Apple Commission, shared with me.
The soon-to-be-launched campaign is called ‘Washington Apples Kuchh Khas Hai!” Right now, the brand is “covered with Sanjiv & Disha and first getting ready to release the campaign” with them. The execution of the campaign could be in-house. However, the brand did not deny the possibility of hiring new agencies as and how the budgets are released.
“We have 25 programs around the world and 12 representatives. When it comes to external partners, agencies, it is important for us to have somebody who understands our culture and distribution network, retails and wholesalers”, Fryhover added.
“Marketing budget yet to be finalized. We’ll do whatever it takes”, Saran stated.
“There may be a little bit of slowdown on the trade side but for apple consumption, I don’t see any. People want nutritious food and apple is a very basic product.”
Washington Apple Commission is the promotional arm of the Washington apple industry. It is the mission of the commission to serve the Washington apple industry by increasing consumer demand through innovative marketing and promotions in international markets. In India, the commission is represented by SS Associates.