Have you ever thought about selling your favorite family recipe or crafting a value-added product like a lavender soap or a herbal seasoning blend? Bringing a product to market can be an expensive experience today, and the cost is one of the reasons many entrepreneurs have hesitated to try.
It’s easy, and far less expensive to “test the waters” at your local farmer’s market before spending the big bucks on pro-grade packaging, label design and all the other marketing expenses that are needed to get your product into retail stores.
The good news is that the market for specialty foods and personal care products is strong – growing at an annual rate of almost 12% – with two-thirds of all consumers nationwide now regularly purchasing these specialty products. Add to that the “green” trend in the food world of organic or all-natural products and you’ve got a powerful combination to help you succeed with your own hand-crafted specialty food or personal-care product.
If you can mix, preserve, pickle or brew something your friends and family rave about, maybe it’s time to take your unique creation to a wider audience. Whatever your product, exposing it to that wider audience should start at your local farmer’s or saturday market. The costs are low – just a table, a canopy and a cash box. You can even share space with another vendor who is selling a non-competing product.
Selling at a small community market can give you insights into the true market for your product, your competition, if any, and feedback from consumers, both purchasers and prospects. According to Amy Adams, a successful specialty food producer, “The market will always tell us what works – a farmer’s market is one of the best places in the world to see how people respond to your stuff. Being face-to-face with customers, you learn what they like, who they are, even what they would like to buy. They give me lots of ideas.”
An additional plus found at farmer’s markets is the sense of community among vendors. Says one newbie, ” You just start up and have no idea what you’re doing. But all the people were helpful, and I learned how to talk to customer, how to grow my business and where to get supplies.”
Customer loyalty is also a huge success factor for many vendors, and building loyalty is essential. The one-on-one interaction lets you bond with your customers so when they’ve finished that jar of pickles or lavender lotion they purchased from you, they will return to buy more.
Even if your dream doesn’t include having your product in every grocery store in the country, the farmer’s market can provide a great education in marketing and, best of all, you’ll get paid while you learn!