One of the most exciting parts of the advertising agency business is following consumer trends and then taking them to our clients so they might create a product or service ahead of consumer demand. Fun stuff if you're watching what is going on and you get it right. Here's a trend we started watching five or six years ago and it continues to build...against the odds.
We do lots of work in the "farm to table" world and while the natural/organic food trend isn't new to the coasts it's still emerging here in the Midwest. We believe the drivers are: choice, health, cause and age. People, for too long, have had little choice in their food decisions. We simply purchased what was on the shelf at the local grocery store. People wanted "something different" and, because of the information now available through technology, we heard about natural/organic and the proposed health benefits for people and the planet. That becomes the "cause" portion of the trend.
The "age aspect" is something very different. The coveted age demographic has always been 18 - 24 with 25 - 34 coming in a close second. In this trend the drivers seem to be folks that are 45+ who have the money and interest in health decisions. In fact, much of the action is coming from men and women that are considered "baby-boomers" at 55+.
But, don't take my word for it here are several solid, local examples of the natural/organic trend that is raging in the Midwest:
- Farmers Markets- In the Des Moines Metro there are at least six with the largest being the Saturday Downtown Farmers Market which draws 25,000+ each week. That has been so successful they have now started a Mid-Week Farmers Market during the noon hour....
- Grocery Stores- Regional grocery stores have increased competition from not only farmers markets but places like, Campbell's Nutrition, Whole Foods and now brick and mortar grocery co-ops like Tallgrass which will open soon in Historic Valley Junction.
- Community Supported Agriculture- They are called CSA's and they are growing at a steady rate. This is when individuals agree to buy specific items form local farmers each month. Buy Fresh, Buy Local is something only the hippies did...ten years ago.
- Organic/Natural Farms - Farming in the Midwest, ten years ago, was all row-crop with eggs, hogs and cattle on the side. When Senator Tom Harkin suggested in the 1980's that producers should consider growing more sustainable local crops such as "endive" he was laughed out of the room. Today the number of small, independent, family owned farms continues to grow. In fact, the 2010 USDA Farm Census showed the first increase in the number of farms in the United States since 1940. And, it was these small farms that made the difference.
- Farm Tours & Events - Would you think over 1,300 people would travel to rural Iowa to tour seven small organic/natural farms to buy and or sample their products? They do at Farm Crawl which will hold their fifth annual event this fall. Here's a video from last year. And this is happening all over the country.
At the start I suggested this trend is growing "against all odds". What are those "odds"? Money. Not everybody in the nation is convinced the sky is falling and they have money to spend on natural/organic items. Cause is powerful.
Following trends isn't hard...but you need to be "tuned in" and listening. With this trend there is still room for your business...even outside of food. Think of the drivers, "Cause", "Health", "Age" and "Choice". What can you develop that meets those consumer demands? And then...how will you market it?
Thanks for reading...if you want to see several examples of this trend have a look at this piece we wrote for Insight on Business...complete with some video.
If you want to connect and leave a comment here...feel free. Or we can connect on Twitter @MichaelLibbie (personal and business) or @InsightADV (all business) and here is our advertising agency Facebook Page where folks get these posts...first. Thanks again and have a great day! - Michael