Rabu, 10 Juli 2013

Farm Marketing: Aspects of Direct-to-Consumer Marketing

by John Berry, Extension Educator, Lehigh County

Direct-to-consumer farm marketing enjoys a special space in east coast agriculture.  Not only do we have some of the best land and productive farmers in our midst - we have millions of hungry consumers surrounding our farms.  These ready consumers not only seek farm products, foods and knowledge - they seek a connection to farm experiences.

One of the areas of retail farm marketing and agri-tourism of particular interest for enhanced professional development to many direct-to-consumer farm marketers centers on merchandising concepts.

Merchandising - pricing, product packaging, market facility and fixtures - sums up all the means you can use to sell your product, and encourages the customer to buy as much as possible.

Attractive signage can entice customers to purchase
Signs - product description, consumer awareness and general written communications - are one key element of merchandising.  Signage is your major means of communication with customers.  What you say is important to the customer in choosing what to buy, or whether to buy, so make sure the information on the sign is complete and accurate.  Always make sure your signs are clean and neat - a worn out sign will undo all the effects of an otherwise perfect display.

When you have the room, don't assume that every customer knows everything about even the most basic item.  Don't be afraid to add information like "Best Apple Pie" or "Best Baked Potato."  In any case, all products which are new, unusual, or seasonal, should be adequately signed.

Signs can also be used to promote items that are especially good buys, or tie-ins with other items in your or another department.  Signs can also emphasize nutritional information on particular items.   Signs are provided by many suppliers, trade associations, and organizations like the American Cancer Society.  Use these to best advantage, but don't rely solely on them to do the job.  Good signage can increase your sales, so use your imagination and create your own "best sellers."

Display techniques - what is being done to show farm products in their best light and encourage purchasing - are another key element of merchandising.  Your market layout may be parallel counters with displays in between, or a lateral maze with counters extending into the center.  You may even have chosen a boutique style layout, with displays in clusters.

Jams are displayed using a cluster, boutique style, layout.
Whichever layout you've chosen, the main feature of its design is to control the movement of your customers so they spend the maximum amount of time in your department, and are exposed to all your products.

The manner in which you display your merchandise within this framework can enhance their captivating environment and maximize your sales opportunities.  It would be defeating your purpose, for example, to put all your basic, staple items in one area, when a customer might make his most urgent purchases and then leave your department without seeing what else you have to offer.  To eliminate this problem, scatter your high-demand "power" items throughout your department, next to impulse items.

To further the education of those active in retail farm marketing and agri-tourism (market owners, managers, other personnel, etc.), Penn State Extension is offering a two-day bus tour of twelve premiere farm markets in northern New Jersey and Connecticut with plenty of ideas, education, food and fun for all.

We have something for everyone - seasonal, year-round, produce, food, tourism, value-added, pick-your-own, entertainment and educational farm direct-to-consumer marketing at its finest!  Not to mention the "classroom-on-wheels" as we travel between markets with opportunities to network and learn from each other.

Tour information, details, and registration is available here

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