Monday, April 16, 2018

My TEDx Talk IV

 Continuing the transcript of my TED talk on "Farmers Market as a Business Incubator".
 Customer Value

I think of customer value as the ability to delight our customers with everything we do.

The value proposition for great
products goes far beyond price.

is very multi-dimmensional and in the case of vegetables, embraces nutrition, flavor, convenience, purity and how our customers feel about their market experience. Notice price did not make my list, price is important only in a relative sense. I think most of our customers expect a premium price for a premium product.

Let's explore some of the attributes of value...
  1. Nutrition is the core value for why we eat. Fresh local vegetables grown in vibrant healthy soils will provide the building blocks to keep our bodies healthy
  2. Flavor and fresh go hand in hand. We have had a number of customers do informal blind taste tests with their families. They often pick our sweet corn, broccoli, onions and tomatoes as the best (can you tell which veggies they tested). They are sometimes puzzled that this happens once, but when we come out on top every time, they want to know what variety it is that tastes so good. One lady had been sampling broccoli for the whole season and said we consistently had the best tasting. She asked about the variety and it turns out we had used four different varieties during the time she had run her test. Variety is important, but I conclude it was the way we grow the vegetables, not just the variety. I can't prove it scientifically, yet, but I think it is the minerals that we are rebuilding in our soils. Our bodies crave minerals for health and use them as raw material to fix damage and rebuild, and if we listen to them our taste buds tell us when we have found what our bodies need. High quality products are in high demand in the market place.
  3. Convenience is the watch word for the modern household. Yes, I like and cook "slow food" as much as the next "Vegetable Freak". But let's face it, if vegetables can also be convenient, people will buy more. The baby greens phenomena is a case in point. Open the bag, rinse it off and you are good to go. I think that is one of the reasons that baby vegetables are so popular, we don't have to do much preparation to eat them (and yes they are cute too). We sell a salsa kit during the later summer season, which contains everything to make a fresh salsa. Is very convenient and cost effective, you  don't have to hunt all over the market to find everything and you might just try a tomatillo or cilantro in your salsa for the first time at no additional charge.
  4. Purity has multiple dimensions to a farmer's market customer. To some it may mean no-GMOs. To most it means no chemicals, ever! To all it means vegetables that are clean (we leave the soil at home in the field). You must know the values of your customers and respond. We had one quaint old gentle man that was animate that squash should not be washed because it will keep better. He was absolutely right, but how many sales were lost because you couldn't hardly see the squash for the dirt and it certainly didn't taste any better because it was dirty. He sacrificed all of the customers values for his sincerely held belief in long storage life. As long as it was good the day they bought it, the customer would not care if it would store for three more months, they were just going to take it home and eat it, typically within a week.
  5. How we feel about our food buying decisions is a big part or how we value our food. There is a growing renaissance between the people Michael Pollan call "eaters" and the farmer who grows their food. We want to be your quintessential source for all things vegetables. Your fresh vegetable "coach" if you will, We want you to know that we have thought carefully and deeply about how we are growing your food. We want you to know as much about the process of growing your food as you can possibly want to know, the curious customer is a fulfilled customer at our farm. If we don't know the answer to your question we WILL find out. You can ask my teenagers almost any question about how something was grown, how to select it, how to store it, how to prepare it fresh and how to preserve it well. You will get a rich spectrum of information learned from experience and research from 20 years of farm vegetable heritage. Try that at your favorite big box produce department and you will mostly get a blank stare.
In the end we value our customers and they in return perceive value in our produce.


Each farm enterprise can employ from 3 to 20 or more workers. Most farms employ some supplemental labor. Even a small farm may have some summer help or have a helper on market days. If we used the lower number above the 100 farms at the farmers market might employ 300 workers and in reality it might be closer to 500. We have a modest size farm and employ 6-7 workers seasonally.

 In our next article we will look at the following attributes of the Farmer's Market at a small business incubator:

  1. Personal examples from our farm.

No comments:

Post a Comment