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CMI Puts Packaging To the Test with Ambrosia Apples

Understanding how consumers utilize package information to access web and digital information are key questions Columbia Marketing International (CMI) – one of Washington State’s largest growers, shippers and packers of cherries, apples, pears and organics – is attempting to answer via a new test of the Ambrosia brand apple pouch bag. 

“Use of premium packaging has been trending upward in the apple industry as well as the produce industry overall,” says Steve Lutz, VP of marketing for Wenatchee, Wash.-based CMI.  “We’ve found high graphic packages like pouch bags create a store level billboard for products but also can entice consumers to connect with us via social media and web pages. We’re using this test to document what catches shopper attention and identify the methods used to connect to digital offers.”

Katharine Grove, CMI marketing specialist, explained that in order to implement the test, the company created new packaging for imported Ambrosia apples to determine if consumers interested in additional product information are more likely to scan a QR code with a smartphone, or simply use a web-based search engine.

To that end, CMI developed a contest, displayed on the new packaging, giving consumers the opportunity to win premium kitchen gadgets. Consumers were given the option of entering the contest by either scanning the QR code or visiting the website.

Web analytics are already providing feedback on the effectiveness of both types of implementation, said Grove, noting that conventional thinking maintains that QR codes have fallen out of favor with consumers and most shoppers respond to web-based addresses.

“We’re about 75 days into the Ambrosia test and we’re quite surprised with the findings,” reported Grove. “To date, approximately 46 percent of all consumer responses have come by QR code, with 54 percent from the web address." While QR codes "may have lost some momentum with consumers," CMI packaging data indicates they remain "a powerful vehicle for connecting with shoppers."

CMI will use the findings from this packaging test to determine future messaging to include on packages; the test phase will conclude at the end of the import Ambrosia season in August.


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