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Marketing Plan for Organic Food Products

Executive Summary

A marketing plan often involves establishing the product in question and how it will be presented and sold to the client, compete with other brands and attract consumers sustainably. Organic foods are rather expensive and not so common even at a time when scientists are increasingly preaching against ingesting chemicals found in the form of fertilizers, pesticides, additives and preservatives. The organic food industry is flooded with fake products that are not in any way organic except that they have been labeled as such. In order to overcome this significant barrier, companies have to communicate with their potential customers effectively and show them why they are different from their competitors. It will include explaining clients various processes involved in the production of organic foods. For this purpose, communication, both online and in the broadcast media, is especially important. The organic food company will generally focus on explaining its position on organic food production to its consumers, while partnering with mass merchants to sell its products to larger target markets. The SWOT analysis indicates that the company has numerous opportunities to take, and by the time it finishes implementing this project, it will be able to gain impressive market shares in the organic product category.

Introduction

The organic food industry is currently in a good position given that the general population is more interested in being healthy and protecting the environment. Organic food generally encompasses vegetables and meats that are not modified or treated with artificial additives and preservatives in any way. It implies animals fed with natural products and plants that are cultivated in the absence of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. These products are often available in farmers’ markets as well as in supermarkets, convenience stores and other general grocery stores like Wal-Mart and Costco among others. The main interest here is to promote a line of organic foods ranging from fruits and vegetables to freshly cut meats, including beef, pork, mutton and poultry as well as fish. Considering the level of competition that this line of products faces, it can be expected that there will be a lot of marketing communication methods aimed at justifying the concept of organic foods to the public. The idea is to generate enough interest in organic foods so that people can appreciate the importance of eating clean food as opposed to the produce chemically processed and genetically modified that they are used to consuming.

Current Market Situation

In most grocery stores and supermarkets, the ‘healthy foods’ category is presented by concoctions and chemically processed foods that are often more toxic than other types of products. It means that the concept of healthy foods has been significantly abused within the retail industry, and it is quite difficult to trust to the quality of products in the market. It may explain why very few customers are likely to insist on healthy foods, seeing that they have realized that very few companies produce organic foods. The rest only claim to provide organic products, but they are as full of artificial chemicals as other foods in the store. However, it can also be appreciated that most people are presently conscious about their health and are thus interested in eating healthy foods that will enable them to be in good shape as they grow older. With lifestyle diseases such as cancer, obesity and diabetes among others, it is critical for people to eat good foods that are as natural as possible. It means that if consumers are sure that a certain brand is truly organic, they are likely to opt for it over their usual choices (Rosenbaum-Elliott, Percy, & Pervan, 2011). The organic food industry is currently small owing to the number of unhealthy brands posed as healthy foods. However, the market has such a great potential.

SWOT Analysis

Strengths

Health benefits. The first impressive thing about organic foods is that they are very healthy and thus offer the customer a wide range of benefits, including more nutrients and fewer toxins. Foods that have been produced with chemical substances like fertilizers and pesticides often contain some residual components of these chemicals (Schlosser, 2012). Once consumed, they affect the human body in one way or another, causing unwanted complications and health conditions. Organic foods are however pure in a way that they do not contain any chemicals. It means that an organic product will offer consumers nothing but good nutrients, helping them to stay healthy and strong, while also avoiding lifestyle diseases. These foods are offered in their natural state, preserving a lot of vitamins and minerals needed by the body.

Environmentally friendly. Considering that organic foods are produced without chemical additives, preservatives or fertilizers and pesticides, it can be appreciated that the production process is rather harmless if not helpful to the environment (Schlosser, 2012). Farmers use natural manure, such as fertilizers and natural solutions, to control pests within their farms. It means that organic products are known to be environmentally friendly.

Large market. Food is generally relevant to everyone in the world. With the current enthusiasm for healthy lifestyles, it can be noted that organic foods are generally appreciated and preferred when available and affordable. It means that there is a very large market for these products, with more than a half of the global population preferring eating healthy organic foods. This large market implies that the products have a large number of potential customers if marketed effectively.

A wide range of products and services. Other than the expected organic tomatoes and oranges, many other organic foods are available for sale, including organic chicken, various organic meat cuts, organic corn, peas, bananas and many other farm produce. As a result, the organic food company can also provide organic recipes and catering services for its customers through online platforms. It means the company is reaching out to a large market with a wide range of products and services.

Weaknesses

Unfair competition. Farmers that do not produce organic products receive a lot of help from the government in terms of production costs and marketing owing to the drive toward food security. However, organic farmers cannot get similar help and have to face unfair competition. On the one hand, it can be noted that they can sell their products at higher prices, but this does not put them in a favorable position in the market. They cannot match impressively lower prices of their competitors.

Underdeveloped supply chain. The organic food industry is yet to develop a comprehensive supply chain like the one in other industries. It means that producers have to seek their suppliers and endure numerous challenges, especially with regards to searching for necessary raw materials. It is especially difficult for businesses in this industry to start up given that there are very few supportive entities to help with the challenges.

High production cost and high market prices. It is cheaper to produce foods using chemical fertilizers and pesticides since organic manure and pest control methods are hard to find, and in most cases, they are not produced massively. It means that organic farmers often have to use many resources in order to protect and enrich their produce. It translates to higher market prices that make it difficult for organic foods to compete with their cheaper non-organic counterparts in the market.

Opportunities

Healthy living. With the increasing awareness of lifestyle diseases, more people are getting interested in the concept of healthy living. It means that they are becoming more enthusiastic about eating whole foods, generally avoiding carcinogens and unhealthy chemicals found in food products (Jaminet & Jaminet, 2012). Organic foods are thus likely to be a safe bet for people who worry about chemicals in their food. The fact that farmers avoid chemicals when growing such products ensures that customers are free from any form of chemical contamination.

Customer loyalty. The grocery business has recently developed a number of customer loyalty programs that enable customers to stick to one brand. Organic foods in this case can also be maintained at a high quality level to capitalize on the concept of customer loyalty amongst consumers. It is especially important for the brand to be readily available and accessible in the market.

Brand awareness. With the ongoing enthusiasm regarding healthy living, all that the company has to do is to create significant brand awareness, and its products will peak in terms of sales (Rosenbaum-Elliott, Percy, & Pervan, 2011). It is because customers are interested in becoming healthy and staying away from chemicals. With the right marketing communication strategy, these products can even replace non-organic foods in the market.

Private label production. Most of the large retailers prefer selling their own private labels. If they notice the growth rate within the organic food industry, they are likely to get interested in owning some stake in it. However, they do not have expertise or connections to start producing truly organic foods. With their knowledge in the field, brand name and their capital, such companies can start producing private label organic foods for mass merchants in order to capitalize on partnerships and boost sales (Kolk & Pinkse, 2005).

Threats

Global economy. Organic foods are generally expensive, and for people to afford them, they must be doing relatively well economically. It means that the global economy significantly affects the ability of the company to sell its products. However, once customers get used to healthy organic foods, they will not mind paying extra costs.

Stiff competition from cheap inorganic products. The main challenge to organic and natural food products is the existing large market for inorganic cheap goods (Bucker & Poutsma, 2010). The latter are deeply entrenched in most markets, especially in the United States. It will make it difficult for green food products to percolate the market that has been already saturated with non-organic foods.

Market Summary

The main goal of this marketing project is to popularize organic foods and increase sales volumes significantly. It means that the company will have to increase its market presence, capture the attention of potential customers, find large distributors and retail partners to improve accessibility and come up with pricing strategies that will encourage its customers to buy organic products despite having cheaper alternatives in the market (Glader, 2011). In other words, among other things, the company has to position itself as a great and healthy alternative that is accessible and readily available in the market. To achieve these goals and meet the set objectives, it can be expected that the company will have to focus on the market communication strategy, product promotion and business-to-business marketing within the grocery retail industry. It must be considered that while there are a number of organic food brands already available in the market, the concept of organic foods has been severely abused, and most of these products are actually ordinary foods labeled as organic in order to attract unsuspecting customers. However, the organic food company should seek to re-establish the organic foods concept in the market and where possible even offer the customer a chance to experience the process of producing these products naturally.

Marketing Strategy

As discussed in the market summary above, this project will include a market introduction strategy aimed at re-introducing the concept of organic foods that are truly free from additives, preservatives and pesticides (Kolk & Pinkse, 2005). It means that the main activity will be communication with potential buyers, seeing that products are widely available in the market. Customers need to be reminded that there are some really natural or organic foods, and not all products are just labeled as organic to cheat them of their hard-earned money (Hill, Jones, & Shilling, 2014). Therefore, the marketing strategy will have action plans that include the 4Ps and the 3Cs with emphasis on communication.

Action Plans

The 4Ps

Product. The product here is organic foods, which include both vegetables and fresh meat from farms without all kinds of artificial chemicals in their production process. It means that such products have to be absolutely natural and packaged in either recyclable or biodegradable containers. It must be noted that the concept of organic foods goes hand in hand with environmental protection, and the company will have to avoid causing any damage to the environment. The organic food firm should generally sell fresh and frozen farm produce, which will be of the best quality available in that respective market. In other words, there will be a variety of products of different quality and prices sold in different outlets. The idea is to make organic foods available to a wider market. Thus, product differentiation will be mandatory.

Price. Currently, it would be unrealistic to implement a long-term price reduction strategy since farmers need to be able to run their organic farms, and this often costs a lot of money. It can however be expected that the company will offer discounts on various items to assure consumers that they get their money’s worth. These varied price cuts will also be used to encourage buyers to try out new organic products within a given store.

Promotion. To promote organic foods, the company will have to consider the social media as well as the broadcast media. The social media is especially effective in spreading the word within a short time and at a very low cost. The company will use Facebook, Twitter and Google+ as well as its own website to ensure that all current customers are part of its online community. Once the organic food producer does this, it will be able to use these consumers to invite other health enthusiasts by sharing on their walls and pages and generally spreading the information about the existence of truly organic foods in the market. The company will also conduct a number of promotion drives where it can offer free branded merchandize like t-shirts and recyclable shopping bags among other things. The idea here is to tell the masses that organic foods can be truly free of artificial chemicals.

Place. The best option here would be to partner with mass merchants as distributors since they have a large customer base and will not have to incur extra expenses in order to sell these products. The company can then collaborate with these merchants to push sales by providing samples, discounts and daily offers to consumers. The idea here is to ensure that products are accessible to buyers from any part of the country and with any shopping preference. The online community will also be included since the company has a website with the help of which purchases can be made, delivering products at the customers’ convenience.

The 3Cs

Company. This company is an agricultural one that specializes in organic farm produce. It means that the firm needs its own suppliers and distributors, and its main work is to produce healthy foods and deliver them to their distributors for retail sales. However, the company will also partner with distributors in promoting products. The main selling point here will be the actuality of organic labels, where there will be a number of documentaries both online and on popular TV channels, showing various processes involved in organic farming (Porter, 2008). The idea here is to let consumers and stakeholders know what the company is all about and what sets it apart from other producers.

Customer. Organic foods seem extravagant to those in the low-income bracket owing to their limited budget and unavoidably high prices associated with these products (Porter, 2008). However, it can be noted that those who appreciate the value of organic foods will be able and willing to purchase these products despite high costs. It means that the company will target all consumers in all income brackets, although more emphasis will be placed on older people, who are more enlightened about the benefits of eating healthy, wholesome and organic foods. Younger buyers will not be left out, especially since the company’s main communication tool will be the social media.

Competition. The main competitor in this market is the Whole Food Company, which has been selling whole foods to customers for over two decades. This company operates a number of grocery stores across the country, and it is likely to compete vigorously to retain if not to increase its market share. However, the difference is that its foods are merely whole and not organic. This company owns all of its outlets, meaning that it has higher operational costs as compared to the firm that will seek partnerships with established mass merchants like Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Costco among others (Schlosser, 2012).

Budget

In order to accomplish this marketing project, there will be a need for some significant amount of financial investment. Promotion will take place through the Internet, broadcast media and product sampling at store locations. As such, TV broadcasts will account for up to 10% of the promotional budget, while the sampling and discount drives will take up 80% of the funds. Despite being the most important platform for this promotion, the social media will take the remaining 10% of the budget since it is really cheap and easy to run. The company will only need a dedicated social media team to handle communication and ensure that clients are consistently getting the right updates.

Controls

In order to measure, learn and change, this project will require a periodical market analysis with respect to the company’s sales volumes. An increasing sales volume is the only sure way of ascertaining that customers respond to the promotional activities and buying products (Maritz, Pretorius, & Plant, 2011). It will be done at intervals of six months in order to ensure that any ineffective communication activities are replaced with effective ones as soon as possible.

Conclusion

Marketing organic food in the market that is flooded with too many fakes is not an easy task. However, with the right communication strategy and enough messages to convince the public that these products are genuinely organic, this company will be able to popularize its products and promote healthy living standards within the country and abroad. The key point is finding the right mass merchants to sell its products, while collaborating with them in relation to promotional activities, discounts and offers, as well as other services like recipes and catering from online platforms. With the right marketing strategy, the company will be able to record significantly high sales volumes within the first six months of implementation.