Zespri Recognizes Kanako Inomata for Outstanding Innovation in the Japanese Market
JAPAN - Kanako Inomata, Head of Marketing for Zespri in Japan, is being recognized for the innovative marketing approach that places Zespri Kiwifruit as "a hero to the Japanese market," taking on the challenge of putting fruit at the forefront of consumers’ minds.
Kanako has been awarded the first New Zealand Kiwifruit Industry Innovation Trophy, set up in 2015 by former Chairman of Kiwifruit New Zealand Sir Brian Elwood to recognize outstanding innovation achievements.
The trophy was awarded by a panel of judges, including Zespri Chairman Peter McBride, industry regulator Kiwifruit New Zealand Chair Kristy McDonald, and NZ Kiwifruit Growers Inc. President Doug Brown.
“Whether the innovation involves science and technology, investment models, marketing, or other initiatives, the application of new ideas underpins the long-term viability of our industry,” said McBride, who commented that the panel reviewed some excellent nominations, showcasing a wide variety of innovation across the industry. “We are delighted to recognise Kanako for her excellent contribution which can create enduring value and we thank all those who have been nominated for the trophy this year.”
Despite being regarded as a mature market and being Zespri’s longstanding number one market globally, the company was able to grow sales by 30 percent in this important market between 2015 and 2017. Zespri said this shows that innovative marketing approaches based on consumer insights can unlock further growth potential.
“For many years, our marketing relied on using well-known celebrities to promote the product,” commented General Manager Global Marketing Jiunn Shih. “Through her work in consumer research and insights, Kanako recognised while this had positive short-term impact, it failed to build the Zespri brand toward its potential, with consumers remembering the celebrity more than the product they’re promoting.”
The celebrity strategy is also costly, Zespri noted in a press release. As an alternative approach, Kanako introduced two mascots called the ‘Kiwifruit Brothers’ that have proved popular with consumers and helped increase brand awareness and resonance for Zespri in Japan. She has also managed to bring sales partners on board, involving:
- In-store displays across Japan using 13,000 sets of the mascots
- An integrated animation-based TV commercial
- Communication through digital media
- Fruit sampling and packaging
“The execution of the programme has been excellent, supported by new ways of understanding consumer insights that we are now sharing with other Zespri markets. Through breaking a long-standing marketing approach, Kanako has found a way to engage with younger consumers in Japan and opened up significant new potential to grow Zespri sales,” said Shih.
The company plans to continue to further increase sales by 25 percent over the next five years.