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A Sweet Decade Of Growth For Kanzi®

Published on Mar 9 2015 8:00 AM in Features

A Sweet Decade Of Growth For Kanzi®

A Kanzi apple is the same no matter where or when you buy it – that's the promise that Urs Luder, CEO of GKE NV, is making to retailers. ESM finds out more.

“In other apple varieties, you have a good and a bad apple,” explains Luder, “but with Kanzi,  there’s only good Kanzi.”

The Kanzi apple, the flagship product of GKE, is now in its tenth year of production. A natural cross between the Gala and Braeburn varieties gives the apple a unique sweet, tart flavour, with a distinct bright red appearance. The brand, along with Pink Lady and Jazz, is now one of the top three apple brands in the world.

Even with this success, Luder still sees huge room for growth for Kanzi, as a decade in the business is still a relatively short time. “Kanzi is ten years old. You would think that is old for an apple brand, but it’s actually very young. We have had success, but we are still seeing very strong growth, which will continue in the next few years because we are far away from satisfying all the markets we want to target,” he says.

The plan for Kanzi is to create year-round production, a goal that the company is close to achieving. “We are very close to having year-round production. We have it in some markets already. We are still growing in Europe and the US.”

As well as expanding in these markets, it’s now entering what Luder describes as “virgin territory” in Asia and the Middle East. Harvesting the Kanzi apple in both hemispheres has made this possible.

The difficulties presented by producing the same Kanzi apple in the Southern Hemisphere as in Europe has not been taken lightly by the company or the growers. Climate, soil and trees are different in the Southern Hemisphere, thus, it takes painstaking testing and research by experts to decide whether the location is suitable for growing Kanzi apples.

“It starts with the propagation material that you use,” explains Luder. “When we go into a new production area, the thing we do first is extensive testing. In South Africa, for example, over the first few years, all we did was test, to find out which was the best location to grow a Kanzi as we know it.”

Every part of the production is carefully selected and tested to ensure it will be the same size, shape, taste and colour to deliver the Kanzi promise.

With the same product coming from both ends of the globe, the retailer can ensure a continuous flow and stock Kanzi year round. This is edging closer, as the yield from these orchards starts to increase.

“The trees that we have planted in the last three or four years are coming into rapid production. That’s when retailers get excited, and it’s also exciting for us,” adds Luder.

Moving into new markets can be challenging for a brand from a marketing sense, however, Luder says that a strong corporate identity is key, regardless of country or region.

“It’s true that you have to respect other cultures and how consumers decide therein, but at the end of the day, it is most important to be consistent with the corporate identity, in all markets around the world,” he says. This consistency is vital to maintaining the brand identity, while customising the message according to the culture.

“You must adjust to the perceptions, customs and lingo of the target market, but the identity remains the same,” says Luder. In the space of a decade, Kanzi has become a recognisable name among retailers. Through the brand’s consistent product and message there is, as Luder puts it, “not a retailer in the civilised world that doesn’t know us”.

Reaching consumers is now the main focus for the brand, with a healthy marketing mix through new and traditional media. Brand awareness, which it already has in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, is the focal point of the marketing plan, and with an apple, nothing beats the taste test.

“One thing that is an absolute must anywhere, in any culture, in any market, is that you need to get the consumer to taste it. Tastings at the point of sale or in public are very important. That is the same right around the world.”

As for the other classic marketing instruments, Luder explains that it’s all about striking a balance. With television, radio, social media and other experimental marketing techniques to choose from, he believes that it is important to pick the right medium, according to the market.

“This is something that we look at country by country, but not each country perceives the marketing mix the same way. You do whatever works. So whether it’s on television, an ad in a bus station or on a billboard along the motorway, it doesn’t matter, as long as people recognise it’s Kanzi.”

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