Off to the market

HGA newsletter, August 2003

We’ve spent all year fertilizing, mowing, pruning, worrying, planning, pollinating, spraying, raking, rolling, harvesting, cleaning….a lot of organised work to get those little nuts into those sacks. It’s easy to think that this is the end of the line and look only to next season’s production. There is one other job that is at least as important as all of the production work put together…..and that’s MARKETING.

As hazelnut producers we have several options open to us for the disposal of our nuts once they have been harvested and all of those options involve planned marketing. We can sell to a processing company as a commodity, or sell to an agent, or we can package and sell our nuts directly to the public either in shell or, with a bit of work, as kernels. Or we can develop a range of products to sell or a combination of any of the above options. Our marketing can be as complex or as simple as we make it but we always have the choice as to how much control we have over our products. 

If you are already selling your own hazelnut products or have plans to in the future….and, after all the work that you have already done, it’s important that you put together a marketing plan that will maximise your rewards for the effort that you have put in. The following is a marketing concept that can be easily applied to the hazelnut industry.

Determine the needs of your customers

Do some market research. The aim of market research is to find out who the customers are, what the customers want, where and when they want it. This research can also expose problems with the product. Your market research should investigate four areas: your customers, customer needs, competition and trends.

Develop a competitive advantage

Plan a marketing strategy that determines areas where the competition doesn’t adequately fill consumer demand or areas where a new or different product or promotion would capture part of the market. Market strategies often suggest ways to achieve some of the following:

  • Better or wider distribution.
  • Specialised instead of a broad product line (or vise versa)
  • Lower prices
  • Modified or improved products
  • Better value for money.
  • Better quality

Target your marketing

Determine with which customer group your marketing strategy will be most effective. For example, a “better value for money” may be more appealing to the “family” consumers while a “wider distribution” may be more attractive to consumers who are travelling. 

Determine how to satisfy those needs with a marketing mix

Determine what purpose your marketing efforts are going to serve. Are they to:

  • Deepen the customer base?
  • Increase the market share?
  • Increase sales?
  • Reach new geographic markets?
  • Increase customer traffic?
  • Sell remaining inventory to prepare for a new product line?

After these objectives are established, combine different marketing decision areas such as product type, promotion, advertising, pricing, and distribution to construct an overall marketing programme.

Analyse and evaluate your marketing plan

After you’ve implemented your marketing plan, it’s time to evaluate performance. 

  • Have we captured the planned market share?
  • Have we sold the planned volume of product?
  • Did the combination of target markets and strategies work?
  • Did advertising efforts reach the target groups…and work?
  • Were Promotions timely?
  • Did customers respond to your tactics?
  • Are you doing all you can to satisfy the customer?

So in conclusion, the careful planning of how we can get the best from our crop in the time and with the energy that we wish to spend after the harvest certainly can be as important as the production of the crop in the first place.