Turmoil in the retail marketplace and new technology are opening opportunities for California food and agriculture. The turmoil shows in the increasingly competitive retail and food service marketplace, which is changing the way, where and how people buy food. The technology impact is clear in the consumer’s growing use of the internet.
As retailers and food service operators strive to catch up with the consumer and begin to take steps to use technology to promote their products to consumers, they are creating an entirely new communications network. An important characteristic of this is that the information on the network flows two ways – promotions go out to the consumer and consumers can express their needs and frustrations back. At first blush, this may not sound like something that’s of potential value or even interest to California food and agriculture producers, but read a little more before you make that decision.
California’s food and agricultural producers should ask three questions to begin to find out if there’s potential value for them in the changing consumer marketplace
1. Do farmers and ranchers know which consumers are the “heavy users” of their product? Chances are that these users represent less than 20% of all the households that are buying the product, but account for more than 80% of the sales and probably a larger percentage of profit.
2. Do food and agricultural producers have a good understanding of what the “heavy using” households are looking for from their product and what has been their experience with it? This is important since it’s these shoppers who are the ones most likely to purchase more of California food and agricultural products and who best understand what, beyond price, would encourage them to do that.
3. How much more effective would market and promotion dollars be by companies if they were focused on consumers who are in the “bull’s eye” of California’s target market? Reducing the waste in distribution alone would boost efficiency and beyond that there’s an opportunity to build relationships and convert some into “raving fans” for marketed products.
If these questions catch the attention of California’s food and agricultural producers the good news is that they will soon be able to get the answers to them and other questions important in defining future success. Farmers and ranchers need to get involved and help lead efforts to generate commercial value from new digital communications between retailers and consumers.
Food retailers are becoming more receptive since it will not be long before traditional marketing vehicles like the printed circular play a much smaller role in merchandising and marketing, and they’ll need more information to effectively use the new communications media. Farmers and ranchers have the opportunity; if they begin now, to not only promote products more effectively, but to become part of a powerful low cost dialog that can guide businesses to greater success. Why wouldn’t farmers and ranchers, manufacture and producers, want to begin to learn more?
If they do, a good way to do it is to visit Brick Meets Click, www.brickmeetsclick.com; an online community that hosts thought leading discussion on the future of shopping. Here farmers and ranchers will learn what’s happening across all types of shopping and be able to focus on important changes taking place in the food segment. It’s open to all and there’s no cost to listen and even to contribute to the discussion.
Bill Bishop is chair of Willard Bishop Consulting and Chief Architect of “Brick Meets Click.” He is a founding panelist in Food Foresight, a trends intelligence collaboration between Nuffer, Smith, Tucker Inc. and the California Institute of Food and Agricultural Research at UC Davis. Bill was a guest speaker at the February 7th California State Board of Food and Agriculture meeting focusing on consumer expectations in the marketplace.