WSU apple gets a fresh start marketed as Sunrise Magic

WSU apple - Sunrise Magic
Sunrise Magic is the new consumer-selected brand name for WSU’s WA 2 apple, a cross between Splendour and Gala. (Photos by Kate Evans, WSU)

PULLMAN, Wash. – The first apple variety released by Washington State University, WA 2, will be given the brand name Sunrise Magic.

WSU has launched a second release of WA 2 with a new commercial licensing and marketing program in partnership with Proprietary Variety Management (PVM). The name and marketing strategy are expected to give the apple the commercial momentum it needs to be commercially successful.

Sunrise Magic has been highly ranked in taste tests and among consumers.

A cross between Splendour and Gala, the apple has an attractive pinkish-red blush with conspicuous lenticels. Consumers describe it as sweet with moderate acidity, making it perfect for fresh eating. The apple is harvested about a week after Cosmic Crisp, during Red Delicious season, and stores exceptionally well.

Originally released to Washington growers as WA 2 in 2009, the apple was not branded by WSU when it first issued licenses for the trees.

Named by consumers

The improved marketing strategy for re-release of WA 2 includes developing a consistently recognizable brand for consumers. The new name is the result of a considerable consumer-based process involving focus groups and social media polls.

“One of the core beliefs of PVM is that the long-term success of a new branded product depends on getting consumers involved in the commercialization process from the very beginning,” said John Reeves, general manager of PVM, the same company assisting WSU with the commercialization of Cosmic Crisp. “As with Cosmic Crisp, we wanted to find out what brand name connected best with consumers.”

Focus groups in Spokane, Wash., and Seattle selected “Sunrise” for the apple’s pinkish coloring and refreshing taste. Sunrise Magic was preferred among potential names presented to participants.

New marketing and licensing

The marketing strategy for Sunrise Magic will be similar to the branding and licensing structure for Cosmic Crisp, but existing licensees of WA 2 may continue using their own private brands, if they prefer.

Growers who choose to market the apple using the consumer-chosen brand, Sunrise Magic, may apply prior WA 2 licensing payments as credit toward future tree royalties under the new contract. PVM plans to reach out to existing growers and is available to answer questions about different options that are available.