Mr Apple, New Zealand’s largest vertically integrated grower, packer and shipper of apples, teamed up with China's premium retailer 7 -Fresh for a Mother's Day activation earlier this month.
The event included a coloring contest for kids and apple sampling aimed at moms. While it premiered at the 7-Fresh Flagship store in Beijing, there were also demos in select stores around the country.
The New Zealand corporation said the activation gave it a chance to work with one of China’s largest O2O companies.
According to Lisa Cork, special projects manager, the activation also provided the perfect time to officially launch the new mascot.
"‘Mr Apple’ has been appearing in our China social media since March. So it was time to take him to the people."
The New Zealand company noted that they had been planning for a mascot for several years.
Cork explained, “Not only is Mr Apple a brand, but the brand name Mr Apple is a persona too. From a marketing perspective, it is part of our unique selling proposition.
"China is the ideal place to launch initiatives like this since so many leading brands have a hero mascot.”
The company plans for the mascot to play a role in POS, online sales pages and packaging as it rolls out the character across more and more touchpoints.
“We think he is simply gorgeous and consumer feedback indicates he is bringing a new element to the Mr Apple brand.”
Mr Apple's years-long ties with China
The activation was not the first time the New Zealand corporation played a part in Chinese retail.
“For several years, Mr Apple has worked closely with JD.com online. The Mother’s Day promotion in 7-Fresh stores, which are JD’s offline fresh-food supermarkets, was the ideal time to move from purely online promotions with JD.com to offline promotions as well.
"China is pioneering the O2O experience for consumers, and given Mr Apple is one of the largest New Zealand apple exporters to China, in-market O2O initiatives are programs we need to be supporting,” commented China market manager Ben McLeod.
“China is changing and evolving so fast. We have to constantly be on our toes to be innovative and carve out a unique niche for the Mr Apple brand."
He noted that the brand's "sheer size and quality open doors for our retail direct business focus".
Yet, in his view, "it is innovative marketing and customer support that keeps our customers coming back for more.”