Change is inevitable. The coronavirus showed us just how fast change alters our routine. Established direct sales channels vanished overnight, limited market times and attendance become the norm, breaks in the supply chains frustrated both buyers and suppliers, and there was an explosion of online marketing platforms and delivery options. This past year the word change was rebranded as a pivot.
As people gather, restrictions now become recommendations. There are many questions about what will happen in our industry. Will the demand for local foods, products, and services continue? What changes instituted during the pandemic should your business retain and which ones should you let go?
So, what has the COVID-19 pandemic taught our industry? How has it affected the demand for local food? And how can we continue to adapt and take actions efficiently to keep our businesses moving forward?
These are some of the change-driven marketing lessons we’ve learned from the pandemic:
- “Local Food” as a term will continue to evolve with each local market. The connective traits will be transparency, quality, and community. Price will continue to trump local as a factor of consumer choice but underestimated. The demand for Local Food will always exist.
- Change can come at any time and, we need to be flexible and adaptable. Knowing your target customer’s profile and the extent of your resources to produce for those customers is foundational when evaluating changes to your business.
- Do not let the fear of change, too many ideas, or the desire for perfection paralyze you.
- You will always have new opportunities or options presented to your business. You don’t have to pursue all of them at the same time. Focus on one thing, do it well, and then move on to the next.
- When you do come to a decision, implement it quickly. If it is working, great. If not, learn from it, fix it, and go in a different direction.
Change and the future are hard to predict. Perhaps the best course is to follow Alan Kay’s advice, "The best way to predict the future is to invent it."
Speaking of looking to the future, this is my last Mastering Marketing article with the University of Maryland Extension (UME). On July 1st, I will be retiring from one of the most rewarding positions I have had the good fortune to fill. Working with the UME Ag Marketing Program has sometimes been both rewarding and challenging. But, it has always been interesting. Thanks for your support. I wish you success, good health, and contentment in all your future endeavors.
Mastering Marketing is produced by Ginger S. Myers and is published periodically containing important seasonal marketing information.