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A very special someone sent me this link to a blog post by Amanda Strong at the Mindful Table on trends in food. Amanda was referencing an article in Marketing Magazine but since the MM website’s search function makes me pull my hair out I am unable to link to the original article (I tried to find it to no avail).

Amanda identifies five trends in food (I’m quoting her directly here):

1) Butcher rules: Expect a renewed interest in local meat and local butchers and people increasingly want to know where their food is coming from.

2) Fair Trade: Interest in fair trade food continues to rise despite a downward trend in organic foods.

3) Relaxation foods: Calming after-dinner digestifs and products to help people unwind will start replacing energy drinks.

4) Sense of simplicity: The economic downtown is creating nostalgia for simpler times and food, which is driving an interest in natural foods.

5) Serving nostalgia: Chefs and restaurants are returning to simpler, pure ingredients.

Since eating is one of my greatest pleasures I am thrilled to bits by these trends. I have drunk the Kool Aid re locavorism and have seen enough Michael Pollan stuff to believe that mass production of food is real nasty.
This love of food, Amanda’s post and the book I am currently reading (Seth Godin’s Meatball Sundae) got me thinking about what is going on re marketing in the world of the small organic retailers.
From what I have gathered thus far, Godin’s message in Meatball Sundae is that you have to synch marketing with the rest of the business. New marketing will not work if you run a traditional shop that produces or sells average things for average people.But it can if you ain’t makin widgets on an assembly line or shitty cars in Detroit.
Small organic retailers don’t sell average products: products are of higher quality, are more expensive and target the wealthy and educated consumer (alas fast food IS now really for poor people – there, I said it). What strikes me is that most small organic retailers are clueless as to marketing. Everything from the printed materials, the websites, to the the store designs is lacklustre. Often walking into these stores feels like stepping into some kind of sit-in in 1969. Moreover, there’s rarely a presence on social networks or even use of an email newsletter.
Yet, those who shop at these kinds of places do so because of their REAL COMMITMENT to a certain lifestyle. And they pay for it out the yin yang because they can. In short, these patrons care about this stuff – for them it ain’t like buying cement, a plastic straw or some other commoditized product.
Still the small organic retail operations in my city don’t seem to get the new tools that might so perfectly synch with their service/product offering.
What sayeth thou? Is this the same in your city? Are there other spaces that mirror what I am seeing in terms of small organic retail?

Join the discussion 6 Comments

  • Lindsay D. says:

    Michael Pollan is my hero and if I wasn’t already married I have his babies!

  • Jackson Wightman says:


    What I find most remarkable about Pollan (besides the excellent content he churns out) is his work ethic and prolific pace. The man is constantly travelling, speaking, making movies and writing books. I am pretty sure he is not a cyborb but one must be impressed with his output in addition to the quality of it.

  • Danny says:

    I took a course in MBA in environmental marketing and wrote a pretty nasty investigative paper on Whole Foods’ pricing policies… and I find this particular part of the food products market really interesting.

    And I comes back to some data we saw presented in class that showed the breakdown for “green” goods. Now that includes all things “green” but I think the concept applies… If you look at the market for this stuff about 10 to 15% of the purchasers are considered hardcore greens. Those people are the ones who are almost too hardcore for places like Whole Foods… they buy from small, local shops and are most likely not really swayed by things that are fashionable for trends. They buy this stuff because it is simply the best choice they can make. I tend to think that these people are also less likely to be swayed by fluff and puffery so I think that these this retailers are in some ways aligned with their buyers.. they care about the stuff being local and the stuff being organic or whatever… not much else… pricing might not even matter that much…

    So I agree with your observations… I had stuff delivered to me in Vancouver and I met the guy who did it at a country fair sitting at a table… they aren’t exactly firing on all marketing cylinders… but I then ask myself the question: Does it really matter?

    I guess these retailers have GREAT product so from that standpoint, the core product is stellar and it makes everything else easier. Contrast that with McDonald’s that sells total crap and of course they need clowns to sell it.

    Now Buffalo Bill’s on the other hand…

  • Jackson Wightman says:

    Thanks for the comment Dan. Food for thought – literally and figuratively. Your pt re the target consumer for this space is well taken. That said, I wonder if someone can to market with guns a blazing if they could not make a big splash.

  • Amanda says:

    Interesting re: the potential trend of “relaxation foods”. Makes me think of that new drink “Slow Cow”, which supposedly relaxes and calms you down. I have yet to try it, but I’ve heard that it’s available at Couche Tards everywhere.

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