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Understanding Consumer Awareness of Irish Eating Apples

Michal 3

In order to be able to provide apple growers with insight on Irish consumers, Bord Bia’s Thinking House has worked to provide some in-depth analysis on Irish attitudes to eating apples. The objectives were to understand the consumer awareness and perceptions of Irish grown eating apples and to explore how Irish grown eating apples could be positioned as a premium option within the category. The work was carried out in October 2016.

The first stage in the process was to do the groundwork, which consisted of desk research, calls with stakeholders, and in-store reviews at a number of retail chains. This was to provide a background understanding and identify the challenges that exist within the apple category The second stage was an online quantitative survey, with 1000 nationally representative respondents to quantify levels of consumer awareness and purchase behaviours for apples Finally, an online community was engaged with, involving 14 respondents over 7 days for qualitative work to gain a deeper understanding of behaviour and perceptions of Irish eating apples. The findings are summarized below.

The majority of consumers simply aren’t aware of the availability of Irish eating apples, they don’t know that they have a choice to make. More needs to be done in terms of driving awareness of Irish eating apples. The most effective way to do so is to promote in-store via merchandising and signage. Retailers need to place more emphasis on displays & signage which clearly indicate Irish origin.

The tasting was also found to be a critical element to the success of Irish eating apples. Consumers use Pink Lady to benchmark a great tasting apple, however, once they have trialed an Irish eating apple, they understand it to be on par and in some instances, superior.

Quality is a key word for eating apples. It’s important to communicate to consumers the various aspects that contribute to the quality of Irish eating apples. Taste is central as already mentioned, however, any on-pack communications in terms of the class system and shelf life date should be clear and prominent. Finally, tray pack formats also deliver a perception of quality. Freshness is an important consideration for consumers when it comes to eating apples.

Locally produced apples are perceived to be more natural and better for you because they haven’t traveled as far as imported apples. Making the best of seasonal produce is more top of mind for consumers these days so the benefits of in-season Irish eating apples should be communicated. To back up any apple campaigns or promotions, there is an arsenal of further motivating information that could be communicated to the consumer. More education in the care and attention and grower investment that is involved in growing Irish eating apples should provide a further story to Irish eating apples. The key hook is the work that is completed by hand, the man hours involved and the hand touch for thinning, pruning and harvesting emphasize the care & attention that is involved. The ‘picked and stored on the same day’ is another motivating message that communicates the quality around freshness and natural.

Once the quality and taste of Irish eating apples are understood, there is a strong sentiment to purchase. Because of the qualities and taste profile mentioned, consumers place Irish eating apples towards the premium end of the category, on par with Pink Lady. Therefore Irish eating apples should be positioned at the same price point in-store as Pink Lady.

The findings can be viewed in full in the report which can be downloaded here.

For further information please contact Michal.Slawski@bordbia.ie

Source: Bord Bia - Understanding Consumer Awareness of Irish Eating Apples