Over the past decade, direct marketing has become highly visible and popular among consumers in the United States. Consumer campaigns such as USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food have succeeded in bringing awareness to the importance of the farmers who provide food for consumers. Such campaigns have encouraged the growth of existing direct marketing channels and created innovative new channels. It is important to note that each of these marketing channels has different guidelines, considerations, and expectations for farmers.
Along with these new marketing channels, there is continued growth in local consumer campaigns such as Farm to Table, Farm to Fork, Buy Fresh Buy Local, and many others. These consumer campaigns bring more attention and consumer demand for direct marketing.
Perhaps the two important benefits of direct marketing are:
• Direct marketing can improve economic viability for farmers. Farmers can capture a greater percentage of the food dollar through direct marketing, rather than going through another “middleman” such as a distributor, packing house, or processor. Farmers can set their own prices to reflect what they need to earn to be profitable. Competition exists, but it is often among farms of the same size, rather than between large-scale and small-scale farms.
• Direct markets provide opportunities for personal connections with customers. Direct markets increase visibility and sales for farm products. They are a great way to learn how to market products successfully, learn how to set prices, and get valuable customer feedback.