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Pure Michigan Apples: Success with locally-grown theme in supermarkets

Contact: Denise Donohue
(800) 456-2753

(DeWitt, Mich.) – In an unlikely but data-driven move, the Michigan apple industry has jumped on board the state’s award-winning tourism campaign, Pure Michigan, with a successful fall promotion.

Michigan Apples were the first food commodity to secure a Pure Michigan tourism partnership, which the Michigan Apple Committee utilized in October in both the Chicago and Metro Detroit retail and media markets.  The committee used a newly-developed Pure Michigan Apples brand.

“As we began refining our locally-grown approach to promoting Michigan Apples, we collected data in retail produce departments in several locations,” said Denise Donohue, Executive Director of the Michigan Apple Committee. “We combined consumer data with our known consumer demographics, did some focus groups and learned some very important information about how retailers should approach our target apple buyers.”

“Apple buying-consumers in Chicago were very aware of Michigan not only because they live nearby, but the state’s creative, Tim Allen-narrated media campaign kept it top-of-mind for them,” Donohue said.  “And while apples are not a travel destination – except in the fall – in the consumers’ minds the apples represented what was good about Michigan.”

The committee finalized decisions last winter to leverage the energy of Pure Michigan, and began communicating that to the state’s apple shippers and retailers across Michigan and in Chicago.

“Most of the food retailers we traditionally work with were eager to join forces with the popular Pure Michigan message.  We offered many of them our Pure Michigan Apples-branded wood fruit bins to create attractive, down-home store displays to reinforce the October radio campaign,” Donohue said.

“We also offered the Tim Allen in-store radio ad to these retailers, further enhancing the local ‘buzz’ about Pure Michigan Apples.”

Some stores in suburban Chicago were provided with in-store chef demos, which were also very popular.  Community events in Chicago included Oktoberfest and Legoland® family activities, as well as a chef-led cooking event for bloggers, nutritionists and journalists in downtown Chicago.

The intense October-long promotion in Chicago generated 56 million impressions, about 90 percent of them in a targeted retail environment where consumers make their purchasing decisions.

The October promotion in Metro Detroit generated over 35 million impressions, also with the vast majority inside the store.  The Detroit activities included events at The Henry Ford and MI Apple Trail, a “giant” apple art competition as a cross-promotion with farmers’ markets.

In-store evaluations by Michigan State University’s Business College were positive, and indicated the campaign had significant impact in establishing the brand.

The Apple Committee is currently evaluating results of the campaign, and is likely to continue the Pure Michigan Apples push into 2012, Donohue said.  Retailers interested in participating in Pure Michigan Apples should contact the committee.

The Michigan Apple Committee is a grower-funded nonprofit organization devoted to promotion, education and research activities to distinguish the Michigan apple and encourage its consumption by consumers in Michigan and around the world.  For more information, visit MichiganApples.com.