Would you pay $6 for a single strawberry? That’s what the press has wanted to know since New York-based vertical farming company Oishii launched their signature “Omakase” strawberry. The company typically sells a tray of 8 for the whopping price of $50.
For many, the answer to this question appears to be a resounding yes, thanks to Oishii’s luxury brand marketing tactics. With vertical farms in New York, New Jersey, and Los Angeles, Oishii grows berries locally for metropolitan foodies. After making the rounds at Michelin-starred restaurants run by celebrity chefs, the strawberries are now all over social media.
Here’s how Oishii’s messaging made the Omakase Berry a success, and what luxury brand marketers can learn.
The “New Frontier of Fruit”
For starters, Oishii has its eye on the future. Fast Company named it one of the 10 most innovative food companies of 2022. The publication also referred to Oishii as “the Tesla of strawberries.”
Much like the future-focused, high-profile electric vehicle company, Oishii invites its customers to take a look at how the world could be. Oishii’s message is clear: this isn’t just a product—this is innovation. And innovation is exciting.
In 2017, Oishii Founder and CEO Hiroki Koga brought strawberry seeds from Japan to the U.S. The company then built its “first-of-a-kind” vertical farms. In a vertical farm, plants reside on shelves rather than beside each other across a field. This methodology conserves space—which is hard to come by in a city—by using height to its advantage. Plus, these farms are indoor, controlled environments, so ripe berries are available year-round.
Typically, peak strawberry season in the U.S. spans only four weeks out of the year. Oishii’s methodology allows, say, a New Yorker, to purchase a ripe batch of locally grown strawberries even in the dead of winter.
It’s human nature to want to be a part of the next big thing—ideally before it becomes mainstream. By emphasizing innovation and originality, Oishii speaks to this desire.
Thanks to their indoor vertical farms, Oishii can grow their berries without pesticides. Their stacked shelves save space, reducing the overall environmental impact of berry farming. Furthermore, Oishii’s website copy pledges that the company will keep refining its techniques to promote sustainability.
In this day and age, customers care about the environmental impacts of their purchases. A 2021 survey found that over a third of customers are willing to pay more for sustainable products.
This is especially true in luxury brand marketing. Since they’re paying more, customers want to know the products they purchase aren’t being made in cheap or unethical ways. Cutting corners is not going to sit well with this crowd.
For Oishii, the future of food isn’t all about new inventions—it also involves a nod to Koga’s roots. Oishii shares its name with the Japanese word for “delicious.” And while some Americans may hem and haw over the prospect of a $6 strawberry, the market for high-end fruit in Japan is thriving.
According to Oishii’s website, the Omakase Berry “hails from Japan, where attention to detail is a virtue.” It further explains that Koga was first inspired to start his company when he visited the U.S. and was “dismayed” to find an industry that valued quantity over quality.
Oishii markets itself as the antithesis of U.S. productivity culture. At Oishii, they take their time. Each berry sold is ripe and perfectly formed—unlike typical grocery store offerings where you’re bound to find a few duds in any given package, even when the fruit is in season. U.S. consumerism screams “more is better.” Oishii asks: “Is it really?”
Why does this messaging matter? Let’s take a look at Oishii’s customers. Oishii’s primary customer base is made up of people steeped in fast-paced American city life. They speed walk to work with to-go coffees. They lack open air and sprawling vegetation. Quite frankly, they need a break.
That’s exactly what Oishii offers. Its emphasis on quality over quantity is a breath of fresh air for those who are used to the opposite. By offering a small respite from city life, Oishii presents its customers with exactly what they crave.
MarketSmiths Case Study
Tupelo Park City is one of the best restaurants in Utah—but its owners were looking to expand. Rather than focusing on traditional post-ski fare, RIME Raw Bar was instead to be a New England seafood bar in the mountains. But with a tight deadline, and no website to speak of, the entrepreneurs needed expert support fast. Enter MarketSmiths. Working with RIME, we created a unique brand story—seamlessly blending the salty sea and snow-slathered mountains. Devising witty headlines, we brought the new restaurant to life, ensuring RIME was a success in its debut season.
Stop and Smell the Strawberries
A key part of what makes Oishii’s messaging so successful is that they’re not just selling strawberries—they’re selling, in their own words, “an experience like no other.”
It is not uncommon in luxury brand marketing to lean into the experience accompanied by a particular product. When making a luxury purchase, consumers don’t just consider quality. They also consider how they’ll feel when they use the product.
It’s clear from Oishii’s website that their strawberries aren’t just meant to be eaten—they’re meant to be savored. One webpage offers instructions on how to best consume the berries. Customers are encouraged to set their strawberries outside the fridge for 10-15 minutes to obtain optimal berry temperature.
During this waiting period, customers are told to open the case and let the fragrant scent of their strawberries fill the room. Finally, customers are instructed to close their eyes and take the first bite. How’s that for a full sensory experience?
But the Oishii experience goes beyond aromatherapy. It’s also a social media trend. Instagramers and TikTokers post videos of themselves or friends unboxing and trying the berries. Influencers have done what they do best and have convinced copycats to create their own Oishii reaction videos. The Oishii website even features some of these videos. The trend, and the brand’s promotion of it, invites customers to join the club.
Long Story Short(Cake)
Whether or not you’re personally ready to drop 50 bucks on a tray of strawberries, it’s clear that enough people are to warrant this a marketing success.
Oshii’s futuristic messaging, emphasis on quality over quantity, and positioning of its product as an experience ensure that the Omakase Berry remains in high demand.
Looking for website copy your customers will savor? Contact the MarketSmiths team today.