Important New Directions for BCTF

Published in Orchard and Vine Magazine on: February 6, 2013

Every year I hear from farmers within the BCFGA who wonder if they are getting good value for the money that goes into BC Tree Fruits.

Recently I had a great discussion with Chris Pollock, who is part of BC Tree Fruits’ marketing team (see the story on Apple Month this issue, page 31). Pollock says in 2011 BCTF changed its approach. For much of the last decade or two BCTF concentrated on marketing to wholesalers and produce buyers at major marketing chains.

In one way, this makes sense since these are the people who, after all, ultimately decide to buy the fruit, but what changed in 2011 was that the BCTF decided to start marketing again (if you go back far enough this was something that used to be done) to the consumer.

Some may see this new marketing initiative as a waste of money, but then why has the BCFGA been lobbying the government to reintroduce the ‘Buy BC’ program?

It is because we all know that improving an image and talking to the consumer works. Better image and more awareness equals more sales.

For those that see marketing and branding as a waste of money on “talking suits” I urge you to read the first installment from our new marketing columnist, Jennifer Taylor, in this issue.

If you want proof of why this is important consider that EVERY major company in the world engages in marketing.

MacDonald’s does it, Apple does it, Canadian Tire does it and it’s not like you don’t already know what those companies do and sell.

A true skeptic will argue those companies sell directly to the consumer, unlike BCTF, but that is not the important thing though.

Really.

You might want to consider ads from Intel. Intel makes the chips that are the basis for about 90% of all personal computers on the market today. Most of us have no knowledge of what makes a good chip or a bad one and likely you will never buy a computer chip directly by itself.

By getting you to think, even occasionally, about Intel chips means that company has won half the battle because deep down, emotionally, whether the skeptics want to believe this or not, an established, profitable, successful company convinced them this computer is the real thing because their chip is inside it. It’s quality that the consumer wants and deserves.

Perception and emotional impact are what drive sales, even more than practical reality or hard cold numbers do.

It would be great if the B.C. government brought back the Buy BC program, but we all know (in reverse marketing) just how low on the totem pole agriculture is in politics today. The fruit industry cannot afford to wait for government.

BCTF still works on selling fruit to wholesalers and store chains, but now it is working on that from two directions. The more often a consumer asks, even occasionally, about where the fruit they buy comes from, the better it will be. When B.C. and western store chains hear from consumers about B.C. fruit or Canadian fruit it percolates back to the managers and buyers.

It won’t be an overnight fix, but it’s an important step.

Good on BC Tree Fruits for getting it right.

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