Archive for August, 2011

Have iPad, will travel

At the recent HortNZ Conference….


Coffee breaks are a great venue for catching up with colleagues and acquaintances.  Debbie Hewitt, HortNZ Director from Hawkes Bay and Andrew Fenton, HortNZ President and celery enthusiast wanted to have a look at some of my Chinese supermarket photos.  And thanks to the iPad, we did not have to troop off somewhere to assemble a laptop (so dated), but were able to attend to the matter on the spot.
A couple of further thoughts on the matter of technology. I am writing this entry from Vanuatu, taking advantage of the hotel’s hot spot. It’s breakfast time – well, in theory, anyway. The holiday makers around me are noisily munching their cereal. The business travellers amongst us are causing a traffic jam, because the iPads have invaded the breakfast table; we occupy the table for longer, the coffee sure tastes good, and I am not going to give up my seat because the hot spot is the most reliable RIGHT HERE. So there.
Did I mention that the iPad was only released last year, that I have never seen anything like this behaviour before and that all the other iPads in action around me are firmly in the hands of Chinese travellers??

A Moving Billboard

Known in the US as “vanity plates”, personalised number plates have been sold very successfully in New Zealand for some years now – even I have one.  So long in fact, that the company behind them has developed several marketing ploys to entice people into buying one.

The one I am thinking of in particular is the one where the plate is used as mobile advertising.


I spotted these two in the carpark at the recent HortNZ conference.

My first thought was nice, if a bit of a gimmick; but then I thought, what is the owner of the plate trying to achieve?

What is the point of this not inconsiderable cash outlay, that is, what message does the owner want to get across?

They are not telling me anything, nor do they want me to take any action.


Quite a wasted opportunity, I thought.

Especially if you consider this one that I saw not long after:

Whilst it is a bit hard to see (sorry, it was a dark and stormy night), above the personalisation is the word “DIAL” and underneath is a phone number.  The purpose of this one is very clear: it is an advert for who to call should you ever need a Chief Financial Officer. Chances are I was following a fairly skilled accountant who earns his crust by hiring himself out as a financial Mr Fix-it.

I hate to think a beancounter might be able to teach me a thing or two…


How to Boil an Egg

Egg timerRecently my attention was caught by this egg timer bought by Sara.  So what is so snazzy about this egg timer, you may be asking; after all, what is so hard about boiling an egg?

It goes IN the pot, dear readers.

And, it got Sara and I thinking: how could something like this be used to benefit fresh produce marketing.

How great would this be for, say, boiling potatoes?  Are they new pototoes, or do I want them boiled for mashing, or maybe parboiled in preparation for roasting… imagine the traction potatoes could get utilising one of these in a “Cooking for Dummies” ad campaign.  And that would go for all sorts of other vegetables, too.  Plus, there is the marketing hook that the modern human loves gadgets.  I could see teenagers liking this – I wonder if there is an app for that?

One of the biggest barriers facing a consumer of fresh produce is “when is this piece of fruit ready for me to eat?”  If they can not be sure, then they tend not to buy it – and certainly they won’t attempt to cook it.

The industry has already shown that it can pursue innovation in this area – remember ripeSense?  What else can the fresh produce industry do to give the consumer to confidence to buy more produce, more often?

In the meantime, Sara, our Iraqi Kiwi with her eye for gadgets, her penchant for travel and her mastery of our facebook, twitter, linkedin and webmarketing affairs can be relied upon to discuss the next ‘very useful’ innovation in a matter of weeks. We will keep you posted.

At the Food Show

I made the point of going to the Auckland Food Show; a number of my team did too – and the feedback I received was that it was a very enjoyable experience.

So here is some feedback from my experience:

Allan Fong: A Fresh Grower

Allan Fong, a grower of Chinese vegetables in Pukekohe, working to go to the consumer directly. A fantastic example of where the mindset needs to be.


Fairtrade banana stand

Fairtrade banana importers working to raise their profile. But I saw no sign of Dole, Bonita or Turners & Growers!


Mahana Red stand

Marketer and wholesaler Freshmax promoting the "only available at Countdown" apple variety Mahana Red.


Singing Chef

This singing chef was part of the entertainment provided by the Pams range from Foodstuffs.

So that was some of what I saw at the Food Show.  What did strike me was what I did not see…

The only bananas on show were Fairtrade ones – no sign of any other brand; now New Zealand is known for being fond of bananas. We certainly do not need to be introduced to the crop per se. But Dole Bananas also travel with some sort of ecolabel or other. And I have no idea what Bonita is up to in this area. But if I were a banana merchant, I would be inclined to keep an eye on the Fair Trade crowd. We are not talking about a passing fad here, but a serious effort to build a sustainable economy in third world countries that has human dignity as its centre piece, something ignored at peril.

Progressive were only there in the form of Freshmax promoting a Countdown exclusive product; while Foodstuffs were there in the guise of their house brand Pams (which they have been promoting heavily over the last several months).

Fresh produce was not there in force at all, unlike other years.  No mushrooms, for example, and no mainstream brands such as Wilcox potatoes.

What is going on here?  I would have thought that a large Food Show, in a major urban centre, would have marketers out in force.

Is the cost of having a stand at one of these events so expensive that the ROI simply isn’t there?

On the other hand, looking at the many niche exhibitors trying to carve out their place in the sun with the visiting crowds, are the known brands getting just a little complacent?

Another Step on the Wall

The Great Wall of China

And no – I did not like my picture being taken but at least it proves I have been there!

It is said that the Chinese Wall can be seen from the moon.  Unfortunately, the claim is actually a myth – but even so, the Wall is a very significant structure.

Three factors  amazed me about the Wall.  Firstly, the crowds.  We were there at 8am and so were thousands of Chinese – from all parts of the country according to my guide.  Secondly, the pride & respect.  The Cultural Revolution of the sixties clearly dealt to some parts of the country but even Mao appeared to have some respect for the handiwork of the old emperors who went before him.  And today’s Chinese citizens are very proud about the Wall and what it represents.  Thirdly, the scale.  Without cranes, without engines, without any aspect of the modern technology we take for granted, the Chinese created something they deemed was necessary and it became a legacy.

Walls do not have to be physical manifestations to be effective – the use of phytosanitary regulations as a barrier to control imports is one example that comes to mind.

But that’s a whole other blog post for another day.