Sunday, December 11, 2011

Tips for Marketing an Unknown Superfood

As I mentioned in a previous post, we learned a lot about how to sell a cranberry or two this year from our experimentation at Pike Place Market in Seattle.  The first and most important lesson learned was: most people have a very specific idea of what cranberries are good for ( Thanksgiving and Urinary Tract Infections), and we found that in order to instill a customer's need for cranberries, we must first provide them with enough information to shift their mental model.

Here's a few ways that we found affective:

  1. Providing Health Facts: Many farmers' market shoppers choose this as their place for produce because they CARE about what they eat.
  2. Allow them to Taste the Product: Cranberries are tart. Most people, especially those unaccustomed to raw cranberries, find cranberries too much to handle without some supplemental sugar. They might not buy the product right away, but next time they will know what to expect and be more open to purchasing the products. 
  3. Recipes: The biggest marketer of cranberries, Ocean Spray, does not often provide an accurate portrayal of the true cranberry taste. It's products are usually coated with sugars or supplemented with juices that are naturally higher in brix (such as apple or grape juice). This is okay if you aren't looking for real cranberry taste or real cranberry health benefits. We found that helping consumers get EXCITED about cooking with cranberries was easy when we provided recipes and other ideas of how to use our products. 
  4. Supporting Small Businesses: Meeting the farmers/producers was a deal maker for many of our customers. They really appreciated having us, the farmers, there at the market and getting to ask us all kinds of cranberry questions first hand.
  5. Organic Facts: Conventionally grown cranberries use many environmentally toxic chemicals that organic cranberry growers avoid. Having these information available for buyers was also valuable and important in their decision making process.
Most of this information we provided on signage or printed material that we had available at our booth as well as on our website. We also noted at least a few of these things each time we talked with customers about the differences between our products and what they might be used to seeing in the cranberry world.

Chipotle and Change

I felt like my last update was a bit of current events in farming that focused on the negative.  I don't want to dwell on the aspects of farming that are getting worse, but instead, do the opposite by highlighting what's positive!

Chipotle, a Mexican fast-food chain, is actually an example of how a big business can change for the better and use its market power to help spread important messages about the importance of small farms and eating healthy.

Chipotle has over 1000 stores nationwide and up until 2006 had McDonald's as it's biggest investor. Now, the McDonald's Corporation has completely divested in the company and they're doing great things. Check out Chipotle's homepage and the series of videos they're currently marketing about local food and farms. Here's the link to Back to the Start.