Apple varietal names influence shoppers' willingness to pay

11/15/2011 03:19:00 PM
By The Grower Staff

NY1 Cornell UniversityCornell University's recently released variety, NY1

Juliet was quoted as asking, "What's in a name?" in a Shakespearean play.

Plenty, it seems, if you're naming apple varieties.

Researchers at Cornell University's Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management found consumers' willingness to pay for apple varieties differed with the name, according to a news release.

Participants of an experiment learned the history and characteristics of each variety and they were able to taste it.

Bradley Rickard, an assistant professor, led the trial.

Among the varieties tested was Cornell's recent release, NY1.

The researchers found consumers were willing to pay more for NY1, and they were willing to pay even more for varieties that had an exciting, sensory-related name.

Apple variety names typically fall into three categories: those named after a breeder, person or location, such as Cortland or Granny Smith; sophisticated names that highlight a fruit's appearance, such as red delicious; and exciting names, such as Honeycrisp.

The trial participants participated in an experimental auction where they were allowed to bid on apple varieties.

The researchers tested the NY1 under three names: Williams, Burgundy Beauty and Flavor Haven.

In all cases, the average bid was 12 percent higher for the new variety than the average for Empire, Fuji, Honeycrisp and Piñata.

But the Flavor Haven name netted a 27 percent higher bid over the other varieties.

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