Local produce needs strategic positioning

08/23/2013 10:19:00 AM
Denise Donohue

Denise Donohue, Donohue AssociatesDenise Donohue, Donohue AssociatesRecently I was shopping with my hubby when I shouted, “Look at that!”

It stopped him in his tracks because usually when I erupt like that there’s imminent danger — like a spider or a very odd person to gawk at.

This time, I’d noticed an entire end-cap of locally grown foods on clearance! Obviously it was a display that wasn’t earning its keep in this store.

Every single product was discounted well below the normal profit margin.

I thought to myself: I hope the retailer doesn’t blame this failure on the shopping public not being interested in locally produced items.

Because the truth is article after article and survey after survey shows that people want to buy the locally produced version of items.

The Packer’s Andy Nelson wrote earlier this year about the survey by A.T. Kearney, a Chicago-based management consulting firm, that reported 70% of shoppers surveyed would pay more for locally grown. Of them, 66% buy local to support the local economy, 60% say it’s a better product assortment and 45% believe it’s more healthful.

Almost one-third of those polled said they’d shop elsewhere if their favorite store didn’t have (or identify) local products. The local aspect is an important driver of customers and purchasing decisions.

But you have to do local right, which means thinking about the type of store/type of customer, price position within the store and getting shoppers to try new products.

Locally grown as a purchasing driver does not trump the type of products a family already prefers. Shoppers want to buy local versions of items they already like — sometimes that may mean simply calling out the local content in a regional or local market (micro-targeting your customer).

Know your brand

When offering local produce and products for sale, the retailer must understand his own brand, also known as his position in the marketplace or the type of store he runs.

Is this a store that sells the consumers’ main monthly grocery run?

Is it a gourmet shop that sells the new, the unusual, the expensive and the giftable? (This is where new products often begin.)

Or is it a bargain/value food store?

With the store’s brand firmly fixed in mind: Is your product appropriate to this type of store and its typical shopper?


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