ESM met VOG marketing manager Hannes Tauber at the recent Fruit Logistica exhibition in Berlin, to discuss how the consortium is seeking to ensure that its ‘Home of Apples’ positioning inspires consumers long into the future.
Approximately six months ago, the VOG Consortium unveiled a new brand identity – Home of Apples – which encompasses the various qualities that make apples sourced from the South Tyrol (Südtirol) region stand out, including origin, expertise, sustainability, quality products, and brand development.
Home to a wide range of apple varieties and brands, including Marlene, Pink Lady, Kanzi, Envy, and the novelties Giga, RedPop and Cosmic Crisp, the company is now focused on ensuring that it can deliver the right product, to the right consumer, at the right time, all year round, according to Hannes Tauber, VOG marketing manager.
“When it comes to our company vision, Home of Apples is not something completely new – it’s an evolution of what we’ve been doing for more than 75 years,” Tauber explains. “It’s a new way of communicating, but it’s still close to the market and consumers, ensuring we have strong brands, and finding the right product for the right occasion.”
Navigating The Challenges
Like all fresh producers, the VOG Consortium – which incorporates some 4,600 farmers – has had to face multiple challenges in recent months, including inflation, increased energy costs, and uncertain climactic conditions, such as unseasonal rain, drought and hail.
As an organisation that has pledged to deliver apples all year round, VOG has made a significant investment in ensuring that its growers have the tools that they need to maximise their fruit output.
“Every single one of them has to understand the big picture,” Tauber explains. “That includes planting a particular tree in a certain area because the microclimate is ideal for that kind of variety. Then they need to manage the times of their harvest because each variety is harvested at a different time, starting in August, ending in November – it’s not a case that everything is picked at the same moment.
“By understanding the nature of the apples and the right harvest time, they can have better-trained people, less stress, and guarantee a good-quality product. These are all the little things that you need to consider.”
Creating An Experience
VOG has been a strong advocate of segmentation within the apple category, tailoring its different varieties to a myriad of consumption occasions.
According to Tauber, when a consumer buys an apple, s/he is making an investment, and the experience needs to be strong enough for the consumer to want to purchase another one. With that in mind, the group’s marketing campaigns seek to connect with consumers on an emotional level.
“For example, Giga is an apple to share – it’s about finding a new consumption moment and sharing it with friends or family,” he says. “RedPop, meanwhile, is an apple to snack on – bring it into the office and enjoy it as a healthy snack – while Cosmic Crisp or Envy can be seen as a dessert, to be enjoyed after a good meal.
“We have to think differently, and we have to think in keeping with the mindset of the consumer, which isn’t easy. It’s not about telling people, ‘Here’s an apple, and you have to eat it because it’s healthy.’ Everybody knows that. It’s about encouraging them to find the right apple for them, or the right apple for a particular consumption occasion.”
It’s an approach that certainly resonates with a younger consumer base, which demands authenticity and experience from the brands in which it invests. As such, VOG is committed to ensuring that it thinks long term – not just to what today’s consumer is after, but also to cater to the demands of the consumer of the future.
“The great thing about an apple is that it’s a real, tangible object, which you can pick off a tree and eat,” Tauber says, “but our growers plant trees that will keep producing for 15 to 20 years. We need to consider who will be eating that apple from the tree in 15 years’ time, and what the future demand will be.
“Also, at the same time, we need to make it real – eating an apple needs to be an experience, both now and in the future.”
© 2023 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest fresh-produce news. Article by Stephen Wynne-Jones. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.