Career Magazine

Selling Organic Food for Thought

By Paragp
Anew store that sold organic farm produce opened up in our neighbourhood. I justhad to visit the place, a sucker that I am for organic stuff. And I did. Whilethere, I picked up asparagus, pok-choi, drum-sticks and two unfamiliar types oflettuce. A sincere salesman urged me to consider more stuff from the othershelves. Like grains, lentils, jaggery, potatoes, onions, etc. “Poor guy, ifonly he knew”, I thought. It would be so good for him, had he known that I buystuff that is not routinely sent in by the local grocery store nor ordinarily boughtfor us by our household help. Like the asparagus and lettuce. It would’ve been evenbetter for him, had he known that I am a big fan of the ‘food as medicine’subject, and hence easily buy items that score high on medicinal value. Likedrum-sticks. It would’ve been just fantastic for him to know that I likecooking stuff that my kids enjoy, and hence have an open mind about buyingrelated items. Like when I bought pok-choi and asparagus, I could easily have boughtzucchini and mushrooms if they were available. But how could he know all that?Whywould this new store not meet the same fate, that many other stores in ourlocality have ? Gasping for breath for want of revenues and profits, why wouldit not recalibrate, and turn into a dime-a-dozen store selling dime-a-dozenproducts and services, before eventually dying ? Organic farm produce is closerto my heart than some of these other failed products and services have been,and I sincerely hope for a better future for its owner and its employees.Tobuck the powerful trend, the owner of the store would have to first realisethat we consumers with disposable incomes are a funny lot. Probably he alreadydoes. We wear synthetic stretch shirts, but buy cotton socks. Even if we knowall about the benefits of organic food, and instil responsible ideologies inour children, it’s perhaps not yet the time to assume that we would normally makethe switch away from conveniently available and lower priced food items grownusing deadly pesticides and fertilizers.However,something different could be done to identify and satisfy the logical clustersof needs and wants that we have. In my example, one cluster was ‘not usuallyfound in my house’, the second cluster was ‘medicinal value’, and the thirdcluster was ‘items that go into a type of dish that my kids like’. If younotice, it’s not just health consciousness and green ideology I am guided by.Those just took me to the store. Beyond that, my purchases were guided by myclusters of needs and wants. Notice also that another cluster emerges that Icould be guided by. It could be of items that are ‘not usually found in myhouse + are of medicinal value + can go into a type of dish that my kids like’.That would be heavenly, and I wouldn’t mind an inconvenient location or thehigher price, to satisfy this craving.Ithink I am on to something here. The owner of the store could stock and displayitems according to the high-likelihood need-clusters of his current andpotential customers. While individual needs may be difficult to pin point, orto cater to, need-clusters have some generality that is easier to identify andpredict. These also have some specificity that allows for their accurateassociation with a relevant market segment. Weoften buy more than we need. On a particular day, while I’m at that store, andam being primarily guided by the afore mentioned need-clusters, there are otherauxillary need-clusters at the back of my mind. That connect with my primaryneed-clusters, and are just waiting to be tapped. One such, could be of itemsthat ‘may not be great for health, but in limited quantities, and along withorganic produce, could go into dishes that my children like’. Like egg noodles.When I look within, there are scores of such auxillary need-clusters I canthink of. That would make me gravitate towards food and non-food consumablesthat I could just as easily purchase, while out buying organic farm produce andbeing in that particular mind-set. Like ‘minimalist’, ‘unadulterated’, ‘greenand energy efficient’, etc, etc, etc.There’sa neat looking torchlight which we recently got as a gift. Some turns of anattached handle power a dynamo, that converts mechanical energy into theelectrical energy required for the bulb to glow. We love it and the kids loveit. Imagine if the store that sold organic farm produce also sold suchtorchlights. Far-fetched ? Ok, then imagine if the store selling thetorchlights was next to the one that sold the organic farm produce. Or anadjoining store for goat milk cheese or for cleansers with natural ingredients.Wouldn’t each such store increase the footfalls for the others ?Whynot introduce innovative services which open more possibilities for selling theproducts ? We like being novel and hip. What if the owner of the store also offeredthe additional service of providing gift boxes, with each containing themeasured quantities of organically produced ingredients, as well as the recipeof an interesting, easy to make and healthy dish ? What if the box alsocontained leaflets about the benefits of organic food in general and themedicinal values of each ingredient in particular ? I know I would certainly pickthese up as return gifts for the families attending my child’s birthday. Oreven to give to folks that have invited us over for dinner.Iask you this. Would the owner of the store benefit more by serving specific need-clusters,and by being in the vicinity of those serving auxillary need-clusters, than byonly riding the general wave of health awareness ?Ifyes, then maybe all those engaged in selling ‘the-in-things’ (i.e., lifestyleproducts, outsourcing, management of gen-y, fight against corruption, right toeducation) might benefit from doing so too.

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