This article explores the need for an online presence for organic food growers and small scale organic food manufacturers in India and specifically in Uttarakhand. I live in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand and this past year has proved that unless most businesses go digital they will not be able to survive long. The pandemic of Covid -19 simply proved that point further. Many companies and industries went bust, due to numerous reasons but, one of the main reasons was the lack of an online presence. Organic food manufactures and producers were one of them. In order to know more about this let’s first understand what exactly is organic food.
What organic food products are we talking about?
We are talking about fresh fruits, vegetables, cereals grains, lentils grown by farmers, also spices, and condiments. Then there are dry fruits, herbs, tea, coffee, masalas, and bakery goods, jams, chutneys, and sauces honey, ghee, etc. They have to be grown organically without the use of pesticides, chemical fertilizers and contain no preservatives in order to classify as organic.
Reasons why digital marketing is the need of the hour:
Advantages for the producers and manufacturers
Covid 19 and the era of pandemics
The lockdown during Covid 19 saw the death knell of many small scale organic manufacturers. The majority of producers in Uttarakhand looked to sell their products to tourists who come for a summer vacation in the months of April to July. Due to the lockdown, there was no footfall in the State and as a result, the sale was nil. As there are no preservatives in organic food it couldn’t be preserved and so it rotted.
Pandemics are here to stay and in order to remain afloat, it is now a dire need that this industry turns to digital marketing.
Quicker delivery of products
One of the biggest advantages of digital marketing and selling directly online, for organic farmers is that they can directly sell to their customers as soon as an order is placed. There is no waiting period for the producer and the client.
Quicker and cashless payment
The payment is instantaneous and the producer gets paid in the bank directly.
No spoilage and fresh produce
When the product is sold directly to the end consumer it remains fresh. In the supermarket often these products if not sold gets spoilt.
The customer is certain of the availability of the product
One of the biggest grouse of the customers is that products aren’t always available in the stores and the supermarket. If they were to buy from the producers directly, they would be able to know whether the products are available or not.
Larger client base
Healthy eating and organic food are in big demand by people living in the big metropolitan cities. The local areas where most organic producers and manufacturers are located usually don’t provide a market for these products except in the tourist season. The tourist will buy these products but the producers cant hold on to these clients are they are extremely dynamic. There is nothing to sustain the interest of these leads and convert them into long term clients. But if one had an online presence, customers all over the country can be catered to.
Cuts the cost of running a brick and mortar shop
Many organic producers and manufacturers run their own shops. They incur expenses of rent, electricity, salary to sale person, etc. If instead, they had their own website or other online presence they would be able to save on all these ongoing expenses.
If the organic manufacturers and producers save on expenses like running their own shop, cut out the middle man, like large stores and supermarkets, and ensure there is minimal wastage of food going bad, this will increase their profitability. To add to that instant and timely payments will create an environment where the producers can pass on these benefits to the customers by keeping the rate of the products lower.
Cuts cost of offline advertising :
Advertising on tv billboards or running ads in magazines is extremely expensive. In the long run, it is cheaper to run ads on Facebook, Google, or other social media like Instagram. If done well, not only will the producer advertise his or her product to people who are looking for these products, but will also be able to get leads, which he can nurture which will go on to become his brand ambassadors.
Can create their own brand and trust which is very important
When one is marketing for oneself it is much easier to create the brand value for one’s brand. The organic producers and manufacturers are small to medium scale organizations. they can’t afford to go in for traditional ads which are very expensive. But through digital marketing tools, they can create a brand and through lead generation funnels they can create trust and a loyal customer base. When communication is direct and personalized trust is created. This is not possible if a product is lying on a large supermarket shelf.
Advantages for the end customer:
They get fresher food
They can get the food products directly from the producers without delay.
They can buy at a lower price
When the producer saves expenses, he can pass on the advantages to the customers. In a survey conducted by me, I found that most customers thought that the products were too overpriced. The reason is that apart from an organic product being produced on a smaller scale the loss the producers incur is high.
They don’t have to go out to get the products.
With the rise in Corona cases, it is advisable to stay indoors as much as possible. The customers can procure the products, buying them online with a click of a button, and have it delivered to their doorstep.
The certainty about the availability of the product
Another big complaint the end customer has is that often stores were out of stock with the products that the customers wanted. They had no idea when they will be restocked with that particular product again. Direct sales circumvent all that. The customers can contact the producers and ask them when the product will be available and even place orders for the same in advance.
Product authenticity: they know from whom and where they are getting the products
The biggest doubt the customers have is that is the products really organic or are they being taken for a ride. When the producers through digital marketing can build that brand value and awareness of their products, the customers will be assured that they are getting something genuine.
Types of online presence and digital tools
Own website and online store:
If the producers are medium-scale and have a larger variety of goods can go in for their own website and sell their products online. To know about how to be a successful marketeer you must read this
Listing with an aggregator website
If the producers are producing fewer products and do not want to go in for a website, they can list their products through online websites like Amazon, etc.
Blogs are the heart of Digital Marketing. It helps create a brand and helps generate leads. It is through active blogging one can get information about the customer and can eventually communicate with them through other means as well
Social media posts and ads
The blog and social media posts are interconnected. Each one leads the audience to the other which creates trust in the audience. When a person sees a brand posting regularly in blogs or social media, that brand starts becoming familiar. There is a feeling of comfort with that brand. That creates trust. One can also advertise on social media with paid ads to create lead magnates
SEO and SEM:
Through SEO techniques one can have one’s blog or website rank high in the search engine or if one wants one can pay to be ranked high. Either way, through the search engine, lead magnets are generated which draws the audience to the blog thus adding to the size of the audience and the trust in the brand.
The final the most personalized and persuasive tool is email marketing. Emails can be made personal giving the audience the impression that you are talking to them directly. that creates a relationship, a familiarity a level of comfort which creates trust in the mind of the audience. Not only does it create trust but the audience is now a client at this point and one can have feedback and reviews from the client. This ensures brand loyalty with the customer.
The goal is eventually to lessen the effort on digital marketing tools wherein the customers eventually become the brand ambassadors of your products. Have you heard a friend say ” hey have you tried such and such product? I think it’s awesome.” That shows that the friend has tried it and is recommending it. That is the ultimate aim of digital marketing to have your customers become brand ambassadors of your products.
To know more about how digital marketing has become a better option than offline marketing here