Friday, September 24, 2010

Tailgating- a new merchandising opportunity?

On the eve of a Penn State football game, I have been thinking about the monetary impact tailgating has on State College, PA (and other towns with a large football following). I believe that many retailers are missing out on profits by not merchandising for tailgating season.

A tailgating study conducted by the Weber grilling company reports that over the past 12 months, 1 in 8 Americans has tailgated 3.4 times. Tailgaters also reported their main tailgating purchases. "The ‘basics’ tailgaters rank their top four foods: hamburgers (70%), brats (45%), chicken (42%) and hot dogs (42%) to the tune of $106 per tailgate or $441 in groceries per year for this activity. Another group, the ‘gourmet’ tailgaters, prefer chicken (43%), ribs (39%), brats (37%) and steak (33%) to the tune of $165 per event or $1,001 per year."

Meat is not the only merchandise tailgaters need. Other items may include veggies for grilling, wine, beer, snacks, condiments, ice, sauces, desserts, drinks, serveware, etc. Why not set up a tailgate merchandise area in your retail space? Tailgaters will appreciate the convenience of a "one-stop-shop" and you may see your sales increase because of this. Use your creativity to design a space centered around your local team and advertise, advertise, advertise!

Tailgating article

As an ag entrepreneur, have you done any merchandising for tailgating? Have you seen any increase in sales for certain products during football season?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Honing your negotiating skills

As an entrepreneur, you will need to negotiate with suppliers and clients. Many people hate negotiating because they feel it leads to tense situations and unhappiness (for possibly both parties). In an article on The Customer Collective (a forum for sales and marketing executives), author and CEO of Top Sales Associates, Johnathan Farrington, gives tips on making negotiating as painless as possible.

1. Manage your emotional state- Build rapport by matching the other person’s style, pace, and approach until you have achieved a ‘connection’. Personalize the negotiation by using “I” rather than your organization’s name. This demonstrates your belief in your proposal and highlights your credibility.

2. Look for quick mutual wins to build the belief “we can agree”- Seek to address the easy/quickest areas of agreement first to reinforce the process of agreement is simple and straightforward. If you discover an area where agreement may not be reached quickly, then agree to leave it until later.

3. Use active listening skills and ask questions to give you a greater understanding of the other person’s viewpoint- The goal of active listening is for you to hear and understand other people – their words, thoughts, and feelings, and to let them know you’ve heard and understood them. Acknowledge their motivations, feelings, and point of view, even when you don’t agree with what they are saying. Your goal is to understand the message, not judge the validity of what they say.

4. Build trust by negotiating fairly- Act with integrity and hold a healthy respect for the intentions of the individual you are negotiating with. There is always a reason why a point of negotiation is important to the buyer and if we can appreciate more about their underlying reasons, this knowledge can be used and acted upon.


As an ag entrepreneur, how often do you negotiate? How do you feel about negotiating? Do you find these tips to be helpful? Do you have any other tips to make negotiating less stressful?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

What does "local" mean?

No legal authority (including the USDA) has declared a definition for "local", so how do you define it? Maybe the best way is to use the definition most popularly used by consumers. In a recent study conducted by the Mid-Atlantic Specialty Crop Research Initiative at Penn State, 1,710 participants from the metropolitan areas of New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Richmond were surveyed on this very topic.

The participants were surveyed on what types of food products they purchased, where they purchased these products, and what factors may have affected their purchasing behaviors. They were asked to indicate their definitions of “locally grown,” in terms of miles from their residence and in relative terms of distance from their residence. The majority of participants (78%) defined “locally grown” as 100 miles or less from their residence, as well as 84% defined “locally grown” as within their state of residence.

Are these findings enough to develop a definition of "local" or does the government need to get involved? Vermont and Maryland have developed or are in the process of developing their own definitions. In 2008, the state of Vermont developed a definition for "local"; foods could be considered local if they were grown within 30 miles of the point-of-purchase or within the state of Vermont. The state of Maryland is in the process of creating an industry advisory group of growers, retailers, processors and consumers to come up with guidelines to define "local".

As an ag entrepreneur, how do you define "local"? Are you marketing any of your products as "local"? Does the government (national or state) need to create a definition? Do you think different state definitions will help or hurt marketing?