Experiences color our perspective. They sharpen the palate, if you will, preparing the brain for what’s next. For instance, opening a new document on my computer may fill me with a strange mixture of excitement and dread—an experience I think any writer will attest to. Experiences are not a single blip of emotion; they’re a myriad of complex feelings ricocheting off of each other to form the final takeaway.
But experiences, as Wenatchee, Washington-based CMI Orchards sees them, are more than just how we view situations. They change how we view our food, too.
Diving into this take with me is none other than Rochelle Bohm, the vertically integrated company’s Brand Manager. We’re exploring CMI’s Flavogram® resource, an educational tool for the buy-side that helps shoppers learn about the unique flavor nuances of apples. One of the key components is—you guessed it—the apple-eating experience.
“Most traditional apple charts show a scale that simply reveals placement on a linear ranking of sweet to tart,” Rochelle begins. “Typically, Fuji and Gala apples are at the top of the chart, and Granny Smith and Braeburn at the bottom. We believe this is an oversimplified and old-school way of looking at apples. There is so much more to an apple-eating experience than just how sweet or tart it is. Using a similar thought process to what has been adopted by the wine industry, CMI designed a tool that better describes the flavor dimensions of each unique apple, bringing apple-eating into the 21st century. With so many wine choices available, flavor descriptions are vital and help customers make selections that appeal to their taste preferences.”
So, why not apply the same thinking to apples?
Instead of a linear ranking, the Flavogram program describes the flavor experience each apple delivers. The Flavogram bar, a color-coded system that allows shoppers to virtually identify what eating experience the apple offers, utilizes pinks, yellows, and greens to describe flavors. Let’s look at KIKU®, for example, an apple that is supremely sweet from start to finish. On the Flavogram bar, the uninterrupted pink denotes the journey consumers will experience when eating the apple.
“For Kanzi® apples, the experience is the opposite. Upon first bite, you’re met with an intensely tangy experience that finishes with a lingering sweetness. Surprisingly, Kanzi apples can have a very high sugar content, which can be masked by the intensity of the tanginess that hits your tastebuds immediately. To place a Kanzi apple on one end of a sweet or tart spectrum would not do justice to the full flavor experience, nor would it show the journey from tartness to sweetness—which is opposite to a lot of other tangy apples out there,” Rochelle further explains.
“Using a similar thought process to what has been adopted by the wine industry, CMI designed a tool that better describes the flavor dimensions of each unique apple, bringing apple-eating into the 21st century.”
Rochelle Bohm, Brand Manager, CMI Orchards
The shopping climate of today is a far cry from the shopping trends of yester-year, as consumers actively seek out a product that delivers on experience. For retailers, offering this level of interaction can become the make-or-break decision between drawing in demographics like millennials and even Generation Z.
“Retailers can use the tools CMI has developed to provide better education for their customers,” Rochelle states. “This is useful in trading customers up to higher valued apples, for driving trials and introducing them to new flavors, and to deliver better customer service and more help in the decision-making process. Shoppers are hungry for information about the products they buy, and CMI’s tools deliver an excellent way for retailers to drive information to their shoppers. We can work with our retail partners to customize our Flavogram content, building custom in-store signage, helping with displays and merchandising tools that utilize our Flavogram resources to create a better in-store environment for shoppers that want to know more about the products they are buying.”
With a myriad of apple options available to shoppers today, standing out is critical to category success. To capture the incremental sales opportunities that specialty apples deliver, customers need to be incentivized to make a shift from tried and true favorites to new options that align with their flavor preferences. As Rochelle noted, helping them understand which experiences they’re after is one way those along the retail frontlines can find success when it comes to driving category sales.
“In addition to educating consumers at the store level, Produce Managers love the information the Flavogram delivers, which in turn helps them better serve their customers,” she comments. “With Pocket Pro guides that Produce Managers can keep on hand to answer customer queries to in-store signage, our program can be adapted to help retailers educate both consumers and produce staff alike. We can create posters, channel cards, retail signage, ads, and more. And retailers can use the Flavogram information to add value to online shopping, where education and information are even more important as the shopper cannot see the product in person.”
Online shopping has become an essential part of the shopping experience, and consumers still hope to be wowed through the screen. Experiences do extend beyond the physical act of interacting with produce, meaning the eyes and that age-old fear of missing out on the next big thing should be wooed.
“The visual way that the Flavogram represents each apple flavor will help guide online shoppers toward trialing by showcasing what is mainstream and which newer variety is closely aligned with it. For example, if a shopper is inclined to purchase a Gala because they enjoy that mild crispness, they would be able to see that Ambrosia Gold™ is comparable in its taste profile, but offers more honey-like sweetness and crunch. This allows retailers to guide customers to ‘trade up’ and help grow category sales when demos and in-store events aren’t happening,” Rochelle expresses.
Visual wooing can take many forms, and CMI’s design aesthetic for the program is vibrant, eye-catching, and appealing.
“We’ve been met with nothing but high praise from retailers interested in the program, who are immediately drawn into the color scheme we’ve adopted,” Rochelle notes. “The color system we’ve created amplifies the aesthetics of the program, making it not only incredibly rich from an educational opportunity but also visually appealing from a marketability standpoint.”
Although it’s impossible to determine what trends we will see this year, I can’t help but prophesize that marketing experiences will be at the heart of outstanding category performance. I believe I have a like-minded soul in Rochelle, whose own determination to pump up apples is unmatched.
“We have high hopes for continued growth in the apple category,” she proclaims. “Our goal is to continue to partner up with our retail customers to create a richer experience for their shoppers. We truly believe that the adoption of our Flavogram tools will help drive the trial of new varieties and trade shoppers up. We want to deliver the easy button for shoppers and to help them make informed choices to help drive repeat purchases.”
As I said earlier, experience sharpens the palate. And a supply-side partner like CMI Orchards sharpens your edge.