Watch above: Saskatoon berry gets name change south of the border
SASKATOON – A Cornell University project hopes to expand the planting of Saskatoon berries in the northeast United States, under an alternate name.
The project cites the fruit as a ‘juneberry,’ prompting Time Magazine to publish a profile on the local shrub that claimed a “super food war” had begun over the name of the berry.
‘Saskatoon’ is cited as being too difficult for some Americans to pronounce and spell.
“My initial reaction, being from Saskatoon, was that they should keep it Saskatoon, but then looking at the marketing point of view, I looked at it a little more involved,” said David Williams, an associate professor of marketing at the University of Saskatchewan.
“If they think ‘juneberry’ has a greater scope in the [American] market, then I don’t think it’s so bad,” he added.
Williams pointed out that many different factors are considered when a group or company decides to name a product.
“Does it have any negative connotations, does it translates into anything? Even if it translates OK, is there any local syntax or cultural symbols?”
Corey Michel, a partner at Saskatoon-based The Marketing Den, said that professionals must learn how to speak to a consumer in their specific terms.
“A consumer is a consumer and at the end of the day it’s all about human motivations, it’s about what people think and people want,” said Michel, The Marketing Den’s account director.
“It really is drawing on those cultural nuances and cultural relevancies that are happening within that particular market, but overall things can be the same across various markets.”
Both Michel and Williams admitted that it’s not common for an English product to switch names in North America due to a trouble to pronounce or spell the product.
“If you think of a certain products like Quinoa, it’s still called quinoa, even though maybe people can’t pronounce it, but it’s still got the key name,” said Williams.
“Something like a Saskatoon berry; when you’re going into the U.S. market that might be something that does stand out for them, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing,” said Michel.
Name aside, The Berry Barn’s co-owner Grant Erlandson says the berry produced here in Saskatchewan is unique, in quality.
“They’re probably never going to have the same tasting berry as we have,” said Erlandson.