Many farmers are eager to add value to their produce to increase the shelf-life and earn more.
Value addition on agricultural products is done through processes such as drying, pasteurisation, fermentation, baking, cooking, roasting and pickling.
However, while many farmers are aware of these processes and are doing them, what usually becomes a challenge is how to market the products.
The best people to start selling to products such as juice extracts, fermented milk and dried cereals are friends, family, church congregation, women groups and at trade fairs.
Once a farmer or agripreneur has developed, tested and finalised the value added product, he should communicate this to their target group and invite them to actually try and buy their product. Since conventional media channels are out of reach for farmers or agripreneurs, one needs to be creative to draw the attention. The adverts can be done by use of simple, consistent, visual and local messaging through use of flyers or posters at specific places.
Make sure any marketing materials explain in a short, visual and easy understandable way why your product will address consumers’ aspirations or problem.
Once you draw some attention, the first thing people ask is, why should I trust you? Trust cannot be built overnight or by a simple stamp on the packaging of your product. You will have to nurture trust by working with people from the target market. Work with local leaders that are relevant to your market, for example, health professionals, headteachers and women leaders. Look for those opinion leaders who are relevant to your product and engage them, if need be by offering free samples and other incentives.
Engage the community. Work with a local team that is part of the people that you want to target. Try to create some ‘success stories’ from users and invite them to talk about their experiences.
Once you draw some attention and build a level of trust, now it will be all about ‘seeing is believing’. Low-income consumers are risk-averse, therefore, just seeing a demonstration will most likely not convince them. The product may not exist in the near future, for example tomorrow or next week, so you will have to do everything to have them experience its benefits and win their souls.
Visit the target group at their location and interact. For instance, you can go door-to-door, use road shows or local retailers, and limit any ‘transportation costs’ for people to experience your product. Invite them to interact and engage with your product in a fun and positive way using all senses, not just seeing. Allow free testing. Provide a low-cost opportunity to experience the product. If possible, you can offer a low-cost unit of your product to provide a low threshold for an initial experience. For fast-moving consumer goods, these can be sachets. After illustrating the benefits of your product, you have to close the deal and generate turnover.
This is the moment of truth where the consumer has to invest in the product.
Enable action by using promotions with a specific deadline. For instance, ‘only today’ can trigger action. The entrepreneur can also provide additional bonuses or free goodies with a certain purchase.
In addition, the entrepreneur can create movement of goods through bulk discounts. People like to be part of a crowd and will not likely engage in buying if others won’t do it (too high-risk).
By offering a bulk discount for a certain group of people, you can move towards a tipping point of people wanting to be part of the group instead of being the only one taking a risk.
In conclusion, consumer surveys help one to know demands and preferences since they change over time.
Finally, ensure you obtain Kenya Bureau of Standards certification for the product to demonstrate its quality to consumers.
The author is a tutor at Egerton University