Most small producers and growers focus all their and time on the production part of their agriculture business. While it is important to raise quality produce and livestock to ensure availability of wholesome food for human consumption, your marketing plan will decide how well your produce sells and how much profit it generates for your business.
Local farmers’ markets are becoming increasingly popular amongst small farmers across the nation for offering better opportunities to connect with customers and make sales. However, selling at a direct-to-consumer market may not be as easy as just moving some produce from the farm to the market, setting up a booth and putting out goods on a display table. Remember that you could be having the freshest, best-tasting heirloom tomatoes in the whole market, but if they aren’t visible to consumers through the aisles, or not properly displayed with their prices, you might be losing a lot of sales that could possibly come from those tomatoes, without even realising it.
This guide highlights helpful direct marketing considerations and tips that will help you improve your chances of success in the farmers’ market.
Why Sell at the Farmers’ Market?
Today’s consumers are smarter and more health-conscious than ever. They care and want to learn about where their food comes from, how it is grown and the farmers/growers who produce it. Many of these interested, health-conscious consumers are willing to handpick goods themselves from the farm and even pay extra for goods that are fresh, organic, and nutritious. A lot of them are interested in exploring and trying regional cuisine that is made of local fruits and vegetable, so that they can add a healthy variety to their own meals. Such consumer demands and trends have resulted in an increased demand for traditional, local comfort foods with a gourmet twist as well as increased adoption of direct marketing at the farmers’ market.
The fundamental of selling direct to consumers is a close connection and trust relationship that develops between producers and consumers through the selling and buying process. Modern customers increasingly want to know the real story behind the food they buy and eat, from the person who raised the chicken, grew the veggies or baked the bread. This makes a great opportunity for producers to talk about something they actually love doing.
But that’s not all. There are many other things that make a farmers’ market so appealing to farmers. Let’s take a look at some of these benefits:
- Sellers receive immediate cash payment for their products
- A farmers’ market serves as a test market to small farmers and local producers to discover current customer demands and develop valuable marketing skills by selling directly to buyers.
- Sellers get the opportunity to have a one-on-one interaction with their customers where they can not only talk about their farming process and produce, but also ask for immediate feedback from customers on product quality, quantity and variety.
- Selling direct at the market eliminates the middleman, allowing sellers to receive full retail prices for their goods. Additionally, sellers have a complete control over how they price their products.
- Selling through a farm direct market for agriculture also has much lower overhead costs as there is less handling, storage and transportation required.
What Can You Sell At a Farmers’ Market?
Despite its name, the farmers’ market doesn’t have to be just for farmers. There’s a variety of goods one can sell at a direct-to-consumer market, making it a great place for most of the agricultural population – including produces, bakers, ranchers, farmers and agri-businesses alike. Here’s a quick rundown of products you can sell there:
- Farm Produce: The most common of all things that are sold in a farmers’ market are freshly grown, locally-sourced fruits and vegetables. Besides seasonal produce, you can also sell unique products such as purple cauliflower or heirloom tomatoes that aren’t available in most supermarkets, but have a great demand amongst health-conscious consumers.
- Dairy, Eggs and Meat: Farmers who raise cattle, goat, sheep and chickens can become part of the direct-to-consumer marketing community by selling milk, meat, and eggs in the farmer’s market. These products are widely purchased at the farmers’ market for their freshness and because most people prefer buying from small ranchers that treat their animals humanely and keep them in a clean, safe environment, as opposed to large supermarkets and factories that may be involved in questionable, inappropriate practices.
- Baked Goods: If you always been praised by family and friends for your excellent baking skills, let more people taste your baked goods without having to open a rented store at an expensive commercial street. From homemade tea cakes to cookies, pies, scones, cinnamon rolls – there are several possibilities and money-making potential for bakers in the farmers’ market.
- Plants, Flowers and Seedlings: People buy small indoor plants, colourful flowering plants, herbs and houseplants through all seasons to decorate their homes and add a sense of greenery and freshness in any setting. If you grow roses, lilies, tulips or other beautiful flowers on your field, you can create appealing bouquets, flower baskets or sell bulks of flowers for various occasions like weddings, Valentine’s Day, prom and more. Some shoppers may also come looking for seedlings that they can plant and grow in their own home.
When it comes to what you can sell at a farmers’ market, there are fewer limitations than in a retail selling environment. Besides the mentioned suggestions, you can consider arts & crafts items, spices, healthy beverages, soaps & skincare products and other unique goods like homemade sugar scrubs, bug repellents or organic deodorants.
How to Sell at a Farmers’ Market?
As with any farm-based venture, selling direct to consumer at a farmers’ market calls for a well-thought-out approach. Once you have a clear understanding of the benefits and possibilities of direct marketing, there are a few considerations to keep in mind before you jump into a farmers’ market.
- Even though selling at a farmers’ market seems more like an occasional venture than an expandable business, it is advisable to craft a business plan before getting started. This plan should outline your budget, goals, financing schemes and your marketing strategy.
- Visit nearby farmers’ markets beforehand to get a feel of the market, determine traffic flow and find one that fits your goals and needs.
- Every market will have its own culture, and to maintain that, there are some rules specific to that market. Interact with market organisers to learn about rules and regulations like what types of items you can sell, what selling methods are allowed, how produce and prepared food should be stored.
- Choose to sell at a small market with a low vendor fee and minimal equipment requirements. This will help you get an idea of the environment, the process and consumers before you invest in a large set-up and expensive gear.
- Design a unique display with minimal distractions. It should show off your goods in an organised way that catches customers’ attention.
Direct marketing is more than just selling some seasonal products at a small set-up to get some extra money. Farmers’ markets help small farmers and new producers to build a loyal customer base rather than just sell out some farm products to new customers. If selling at a farmer’s market seems like a good option to you, but you still don’t have any idea how to get started, leave your marketing to the professionals. At KG2, we offer plenty of resources to turn small, insecure growers into direct marketing farmers. Our expert team can help you generate leads, spread awareness and market your business with a well-thought-out targeted campaign.