U-Pick Direct Marketing

U-picks save labor for the producer, but increase farm traffic and also increase farm liability. Attracting customers to your location is a consideration and your farm needs to also be kept looking at its best. If you live in a hard to access area, signage is a must, but you might want to consider another marketing alternative if your location is not the best. Agritourism is a growing industry as consumers seek the experiences similarly found on the farm, either because of the natural, rural setting, or because it is nostalgic, something they remember having experienced in their childhood. Consumers also are increasingly interested in how the food is being grown.

For U-pick operations some logistics considerations for the farm to take into consideration are parking, traffic flow, ease of getting to the fields where the product is being grown, walk-ways or paths that are suitable for various weather conditions, on-farm directional signs and product labels. Helping the consumer get to the field easily and with less assistance and direction from the farm owners or employees is helpful and less disruptive for farm operations.

Packaging and storage of packaging materials in a location that is easily accessible will help make for a seamless consumer experience, so plan ahead on signage, placement, and access to additional packaging items. Several small wagons could be used to help the consumer carry their products back to their vehicles. Think about putting logos or the name of the farm on the wagons; always think about getting your message to consumers. The upkeep and maintenance of all U-pick items should be a high priority. Keeping carts clean, painted nicely and in good working order will assist in conveying the best marketing message.

A guide to help you start your own “Pick-Your-Own” operation can be found at: www.pickyourown.org.

Research the characteristics of your customers. According to the University of Wisconsin, the typical Pick-Your-Own Customer has the following characteristics:

  • Age: One-fourth are over 62, and 43% are 26-45
  • Education: Nearly 60% are educated beyond high school, with one-third being college graduates.
  • Income: Two-thirds have annual household incomes over $25,000, and one-fifth has incomes over $50,000.
  • Spend at the PYO: One-third spends between $5 and $10 per visit. One-fourth spends less than $5. One in 10 purchase $20 or more per visit.
  • Found the farm by: Over half learned of the market through word-of-mouth
  • Far far to go: Eighty percent traveled less than 40 miles to get to the farm.
  • Want organic: Nearly half are concerned about the use of agricultural chemicals
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