Cosmic Crisp sees strong initial response

In the first months of introduction, the new Cosmic Crisp apple appears to have generated solid sales at retail. In fact, according to Nielsen for the last quarter of 2019 Cosmic Crisp was in the top 15 volume driving varieties.  A consumer survey completed by Category Partners indicates the apple also scored high with at least one segment of shoppers.CosmicCrisp MotherTree

According to Steve Lutz, senior vice president for insights and innovation at Category Partners, the organization wanted to get an initial reaction from consumers of Cosmic Crisp.  The company developed and launched a targeted consumer survey to assess how some buyers reacted after buying the new apple.

“Cosmic Crisp has been an aggressive new product introduction given the advance publicity generated within the produce industry," said Lutz.  “There have been years of publicity leading up to this introduction, so we thought it would be interesting to get an initial glimpse into consumer reaction.”

Lutz acknowledged that measuring consumer response to a new product like Cosmic Crisp with limited distribution is challenging. “When you’ve got a new product that only a few people can buy, identifying and surveying this narrow slice of consumers who have actually tried the product is very difficult. Cosmic Crisp is early in its market development, so the user-base of consumers is small making it challenging to apply a traditional, random survey methodology.”

To work around this issue and identify Cosmic Crisp consumers, Category Partners recruited participants from a social media site with a wide following among alumni of Washington State University.  Since Cosmic Crisp originated with the university it was believed these individuals might be more likely to seek it out when it appeared on store shelves and be willing to share their feedback.  

Cara Ammon, senior vice president of research and market intel at Category Partners who designed the study, said among this particular group of consumers, the results indicate strong overall satisfaction and intent to re-purchase Cosmic Crisp.

”Consumer satisfaction with Cosmic Crisp among this select group of consumers appears excellent,” said Ammon.  However, she cautioned that the results should not be viewed as a definitive evaluation. She notes that the research was conducted among self-identified Cosmic Crisp consumers versus a more traditional random survey across all apple buyers.  

“Eighty-six percent of these survey respondents stated they were completely satisfied with Cosmic Crisp,” said Ammon.  “Seventy-four percent of respondents indicate they intend to buy Cosmic Crisp again in the future. Even assuming implied favoritism among the respondent base, those are strong numbers.”

She added that in terms of attributes the study showed these consumers of Cosmic Crisp scored the apple high in the areas of texture, crunch, flavor and non-browning characteristics.

“The positive response to Cosmic Crisp from the 460 consumers who participated in the survey must be evaluated in context with the potential for bias that is inherent in the respondent base,” said Ammon.  “Bottom line, while this is not a tool to project the results to the broader population, the feedback we received from these respondents can be seen as very encouraging.”

Ammon noted that there was one area of concern expressed by consumers: “57 percent of consumers said they felt Cosmic Crisp was more expensive than [they] expected,” said Ammon.  “That’s a bit of a surprise, but we also know that more than half of the Cosmic Crisp buyers say they paid more than $2.50 per pound.”

“I think I would sleep a little better if I were a Cosmic Crisp grower after seeing these results,” said Lutz.  “Millions have been invested in planting thousands of acres of Cosmic Crisp with a hope shoppers will like it and buy it. So far, this early measure from consumers is certainly encouraging.”

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