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Writing the Next Chapter

Writing the Next Chapter

"New York's legacy of apple growing is multigenerational, and part of our strategy includes telling the apple industry story," says Cynthia Haskins of New York Apple Association (NYAA), and I hear a smile in her voice sparked by her passion for the category and the growers and suppliers behind its success. And, as President and Chief Executive Officer at NYAA, she plays an integral role in continuing the tale of the prominent fruit.

And, oh, what a story it is.

Ingrained in science, art, and myth, apples have a narrative that is intertwined with human history. From the fateful falling apple said to have inspired Sir Isaac Newton's theory of gravity to the fabled golden apple that famously sparked the Trojan War, the fruit has earned a mystique that still intrigues cultures around the world.

With such a rich history championed by the most prominent and alluring figures, how can one expand on the legacy of the apple? NYAA has taken this charge in stride, showcasing the power of the category as it acts as a conduit for human connection and togetherness, as well as a tool for buyers to inspire a new generation of shoppers.

You may ask how NYAA plans to do this, and the answer is simple: marketing.

Through modern-day forms of storytelling, the association is creating the next chapter in the saga for not only the apple category, but the industry of apple growers.

"This year, we have an aggressive trade and consumer media plan. Our objective is to continue to build awareness of all our apple varieties through television spots, out-of-home advertising, and online marketing, in addition to making digital assets available to retail partners," Cynthia explains. "We are also producing two new commercials to further connect with consumers. They will focus on the enjoyment that comes from eating New York apples and the growers who make it possible. Farmers are trusted, and we are proud that we can spotlight them as consumers continue to support New York apple growers."

The exciting new commercials will air through traditional media outlets including television and radio and will also be viewable on social media in specifically targeted markets relevant to NYAA's retail partners.

To garner additional excitement for the apple season, one of the commercials will be aired during the 50th Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) New York City Marathon, an event for which NYAA has been a decades-long sponsor.

By broadcasting during the highly anticipated, widely viewed event, NYAA will be able to reach millions of consumers, including spectators watching the race from the sidelines, viewers cheering from home worldwide, and volunteers lining the streets—effectively sharing the story of New York apples on a global scale.


Building off the publicity and consumer exposure created through these commercials, the organization wants to showcase to buyers and shoppers how adding New York apples to their lives will benefit them across the board. An essential step in convincing someone to embrace a product is showing them the ethos behind it, where it comes from, and why supporting the New York apple legacy is so impactful—all of which NYAA is spotlighting in its new ads and merchandising tools for retailers.

"Consumers want to know where their food comes from, and NYAA believes it is important to tell that story along with those of New York apple growers. To do so, we have designed new packaging, displays, and companion pieces that showcase New York apple orchards so shoppers can identify with us and our retail partners," Cynthia elaborates.

As this year's harvest season kicks off, NYAA will be rolling out new high-graphic paper and poly tote bags, pouches, and classic poly bags. Adding to the launch, the association will also unveil convenient pop-up merchandisers, tri-wall orchard bins, and point-of-sale signs to further share the messaging of NYAA and its growers, as well as pique the interest of shoppers in-store.

Currently, NYAA offers a widespread portfolio of multimedia marketing assets, including photo galleries, apple variety information, and recipe posts. Along with its commercials, the association boasts a video assortment featuring farmers and how-to recipe recordings to inspire consumers to use New York apples as they expand their culinary repertoire.

“Consumers want to know where their food comes from, and NYAA believes it is important to tell that story along with those of New York apple growers.”

Cynthia Haskins, President and Chief Executive Officer, New York Apple Association (NYAA)

"Our job is to make our buyers' and retailers' jobs easier," adds Cynthia. "The New York Apple Association's merchandising support brings the fresh-picked flavor of New York orchards to produce departments, and that’s something we celebrate."

Part of bringing that fresh-picked flavor to the produce aisles includes pulling back the curtain for buyers, revealing how New York apple growers, shippers, and packers are taking state-of-the-art approaches to advance the sector and provide top-quality products for their shelves.

"We feel it is important to show our longstanding and new partners how thoroughly New York growers have invested in top-of-the-line infrastructure and safety protocols. Our 600 apple orchards are family-owned, their production is diverse, and each one has high standards for growing practices, storage and handling, food safety, and sustainability and environmental responsibility," voices Cynthia. "A key piece of this narrative is our stewardship story. Our growers have always depended on the land and resources in their respective regions to produce delicious apples year after year, and their commitment to maintaining those resources is something we know our retail partners and consumers care about."

From cutting-edge packing houses and packing lines to precision-controlled cold-storage rooms monitoring temperature and oxygen, New York’s apple-growing network is establishing high-tech foundations to guarantee that the storied history and legacy of apples remain inspiring and untarnished.

To highlight these major investments and innovations to the shopper as well as to its buyers, NYAA is transitioning its media focus to include social media outreach. With far-reaching capabilities, the organization plans to utilize online platforms and a high-tech approach to stay ahead of marketing trends that will enable the story of New York apples to amass a greater following, especially with a growing base of "tech-native" consumers.

"As an association, we are shifting our focus from bringing consumers to us, to reaching out to consumers," hares Cynthia. "We want to meet people where they are in terms of the places they hang out, the things that they’re doing, what their interests are, how their diets are trending, and how we can complement their choices."

Taking this strategy up a notch, NYAA has an ace up its sleeve as Cynthia shares the cutting-edge aspect of its marketing plan that will give the association and its buy-side partners an added boost.

"NYAA's retail promotional program will be heavily focused on geo-targeted advertising to support our retail partners," she explains. "Promotions will include a range of relevant, targeted content that will result in increased engagement online. We will also be expanding our geo-targeted social media ad program, reaching users in specific regions where we have a market presence."

As she tells me this, I think of the success that I have already seen from other companies using this advertising technique.
By now, we have all witnessed the wonders of targeted marketing on our own phones and computers. Maybe we've been influenced to purchase an item or two—or ten, if you’re anything like me—based on how simple it is to engage with the ads.

With its ability to set the bar for retail innovation and its online success, I can think of few better to help build out this program than Amazon, with which NYAA has partnered this year. In doing so, the association will drive forward its targeted ad strategy while making inroads in the retailer's extensive online marketplace and strong shopper base. Through Amazon, NYAA will have access to immense audience targeting capabilities and will be able to tap into its advanced inventory tracking system.

Adding another key piece to NYAA's media campaign is its social media reach, targeting the upcoming generation of produce (and apple) shoppers to give them crucial knowledge about the more than 25 varieties of apples grown in New York. These include classics like McIntosh, Gala, Empire, Ginger Gold, and Honeycrisp; managed apple varieties like EverCrisp® and SweeTango®; and New York-exclusive apple varieties like SnapDragon® and RubyFrost®.

“Our growers have always depended on the land and resources in their respective regions to produce delicious apples year after year, and their commitment to maintaining those resources is something we know our retail partners and consumers care about.”

Through its online channels, the association will share coveted grower stories that put faces to the New York apple-growing community. NYAA will also feature New York’s apple varieties, their different flavors, and usage ideas; and the many positive impacts that the category can have on nutrition and a healthy lifestyle, meeting the rising demand from consumers for healthful, better-for-you options to inspire their eating habits.

Building off research-backed techniques, a strong growing region, meticulous attention to detail, and a dedication to the community and the apple category, I’m not left guessing why NYAA is perfect to help share in the modern history of this storied fruit, and therefore, a vital partner for buyers.

So, as this new chapter is written, know that NYAA is one of the authors behind the keyboard, weaving the legacy of the apple into the modern age—a story that traces back to the very first apple tree. A fateful piece of fruit that, once tasted, would form an auspicious, history-spanning connection between the legendary category and the consumer.