lundi 14 avril 2014

12- We are all targets!

Maybe you think you have full freedom regarding your purchases, and here I talk about everything, food, cars, clothing, appliances, electronics. Think again. You just choose from a range, carefully developed by manufacturers and producers. But that's not all, because once developed this range, retailers come (shops or supermarkets), who in turn, choose what seems to correspond to what you are going to buy. Because nobody is willing to offer you the whole range, as this would entail huge stores, or too specialized. Imagine a store only specialized in the seats, which claims to offer all models available on the market. It would require a disproportionate exhibition hall, and an even bigger stock with a tremendous value.

For food, it's the same thing, that is to say that there is a wide variety of offers, but you will ever find a limited part.

How retailers choose the products they suppose the consumers want to buy?
Through surveys of consumers, psychosocial studies, studies with restaurants, cafeterias and canteens, and, of course studies of consumption of products presented on the shelves. Thus, we are classified according to our family situation, professional situation, intellectual level, our age, religious affiliation, our political preference, our income, our personal tastes, interests, and a host of other information or details. All this information, we let show through interviews, surveys, psychological tests online or by phone, and all kinds of questionnaires which we answer, always more frequently, often without knowing what they can be used to, at an insurance, internet, phone contract, or anything else.
In short, the consumer is studied, categorized, classified and made a sales target.
You are an organic products consumer? therefore, you are,
          - Or rather thinking located on the left, green trend, but rather intellectual and middle or upper class
          - Either environmentalist, even maybe activist
          - Or upper class, rather thinking right, and concerned about your health and your family more than about environment.
This list is not intended accurate or complete, it is just an illustration of the kind of sketch in which consumers are classified to determine their perceived needs, their desires and their purchasing potential power. This allows, ultimately, to choose the products to be shelved for them, according to objective criteria (although probably debatable). 

Any shelving responds to a prior study of consumption for estimating the potential market size of the product.
Some products have become so essential that their absence in the shelves could lower the supermarket attendance. To mention only one, it is typically the case of Coca-Cola.
Some products will be designed and manufactured to certain categories of consumers, to create a new need and to boost sales, as we have seen in recent years with the explosion of electronics.

Medium and large surpermarkets , which represent around 70% of food sales in industrialized countries (with a much higher proportion in urban areas) are generally cautious , and do not really like new things. Thus it is very difficult to find a fresh new product, which could be lost if it is not purchased within a short time. 
Looking good in your memory, since when don’t you have found a real fresh new product at the supermarket? However, the possibilities are enormous in agriculture. And, unless it is an important economic group, or the export structure of a country that supports this, it almost never happens. You have discovered the kiwifruit there about 35 years ago (launched by the Board of New Zealand , that is to say by a national export controls, controlling the brands Zespri for kiwifruit and Enza for apple ), some new apple varieties for 30 years (Pink Lady or Marlène for example, launched by large groups of fruitgrowers and fruit traders), and above a certain return of old vegetables which, as their name implies, are not exactly new products.

What is the problem of the supermarket? 
He worked for many years to "dehumanize" the sale of products in order to reduce the cost of sale. There is generally no more qualified or available staff to inform or advise you in the selection of useful products, and above all to make you taste the products you would discover. The only cases of new products development are made under the guidance and funding of powerful groups who undertake operations of tasting their products.

What is the problem of fresh produce?
It is perishable. This is not the case of an industrial product which, if not sold, will either be sold at sales, several months after its shelving, or simply be returned to the manufacturer.
This explains why it is so important for the supermarket not to do mistaken choices. This also explains the money they spend on consumer studies to properly target their potential markets. And it finally explains why the new fresh products is not, at first, welcome. In case of difficulties to sell, they may simply end up in the trash, with losses that represents.

When I had the idea for this post, I was specially thinking in methods of farming production. Because the consumer generally knows only organic and non organic. There is no place for nuances. However, they exist, they are widely used, and they are interesting. But they represent another problem to the supermarket. Indeed it is difficult for the retailer to offer the same product from different farming methods.

You already find organic apples and non-organic apples. But imagine for example a supermarket that wants to present a range of modes of farming. It should have at least four different ranges of apples, pears, oranges, bananas, carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, etc. It should include at least a conventional production, an organic production, a biodynamic production and integrated production.
Do you see the problem? Four separated and identified shelves, four stock managements, for each product . Unimaginable.

The retailer, whatever it is, needs to convey a simple, understandable by all information, easily and without having to give lengthy explanations. We have thus arrived at an extreme simplification of messages: there is organic production, chemical-free, and non-organic production. It is so simplified that it has become a big lying by omission, and by interpretation. Because if you say no chemicals, it is interpreted without spraying, and non-organic is interpreted as polluted and dangerous, because assumed as full of chemical residues.

But you, consumers, do you have a clear idea of ​​what these modes of farming are, yet you buy every day, often without realizing it?
This is what I propose to present to you, in a series of three or four posts, under the very original generic title of "farming methods".
I don’t know yet if they will be consecutive or not. It depends on the circumstances and the preparation that requires each part.

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