How a Sumo Orange Tells You All You Need to Know About Creating a Winning Customer Experience

by Charles Araujo | March 1, 2023

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If you don’t know what a Sumo Orange is (it’s officially called a “dekopon”—a cross-breed between a satsuma and mandarin-pomelo variety), there are four big things to know:

  1. You’re not alone. They’ve only become popular in the last few years, so you may have missed them.
  2. They’re SUPER EXPENSIVE — like, I’m talking, $3 – $5 EACH.
  3. They are AMAZING! Just amazing. I LOVE them.
  4. They are a perfect use case in creating a compelling and winning customer experience that inspires a potential customer to pay a significant premium based almost exclusively on the experience.

I know you’re probably wondering how a FRUIT could be a guide to creating a customer experience — especially when it wasn’t “created.”

A Japanese grower cultivated it in the 1970s to create “the ultimate citrus experience.” As a result, it acts as an excellent framework for how you can reimagine any experience from simple to complex. Let’s break down the experience created with the Sumo Orange.


The experience you deliver to your customers — whether via a physical product or service delivery — begins before they even purchase it. The first impression must be distinctive. Design plays a crucial role in this step and should inform everything from product design to packaging.

It’s also important to note that distinctiveness doesn’t necessarily equal beauty. To many, the Sumo Orange is a bit ugly. But it unquestionably stands out from the crowd leading you to walk by and ask, “what is that?”

First Touch

After someone has made the purchase, pay careful attention to the first experience with your product or service — what Proctor & Gamble famously called the second moment of truth.

In the case of the Sumo, its distinctive “nob” on the top acts like a well-designed tab on the packaging that allows you to instinctively know how to open the product (in this case, an orange!) and immediately begin enjoying it. Amazing.

But that very first interaction can’t be false gold. Peeling the Sumo is pure joy, especially compared to the frustrating process of peeling a traditional orange. The peel seems to fall away, bringing you visibly closer to your first bite with each tug and pull. It becomes fun to peel a Sumo as you viscerally anticipate enjoying it.

So many product and service experiences are the antithesis of this experience. How can you create enjoyment and anticipation in this vital space between purchase and consumption?


When all gets said and done, presentation and packaging are still the setup. You still need to deliver on your ultimate promise.

The Sumo is just as juicy and sweet as you anticipate. It delivers—every time.

Too many people mistake the “customer experience” for delivering some glitz and gold during the purchasing process. That’s important and worthwhile, but none of it matters if your product or service doesn’t ultimately deliver on its foundational promise.

Here too, design is all important and exemplifies why thinking through the customer experience throughout the entire lifecycle is essential.

Sumo Oranges are wonderful and deliver the perfect orange experience! But at their core, they’re still just oranges, and that experience comes at a hefty premium. So, does the experience justify the cost? Well, let’s just say that I eagerly await their arrival every year — and often have to fight to get them before they sell out.

So, if you want to create a competitive advantage by delivering a superior customer experience, buy yourself a few Sumos and experience the process firsthand.

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About the author 

Charles Araujo

Charles Araujo is a technology analyst and internationally recognized authority on the Digital Enterprise, the Digital Experience and the Future of Work. Researching Digital Transformation for over 10 years, he is now focused on helping leaders transform their organizations around the digital experience and to reimagine the future of work. Publisher and principal analyst of The Digital Experience Report, founder of The Institute for Digital Transformation, co-founder of The MAPS Institute, and author of three books, he is a sought-after keynote speaker and advisor to technology companies and enterprise leaders.

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