Steve Kaplan's Blog

December 13, 2011

Farmers’ Markets Embracing Technology

Filed under: News — stevekaplan @ 10:57 am

When most of us think of farmers’ markets, we don’t think of “high tech” let alone technology at all.  However, over the past years, farmers ‘markets- like the rest of us- have adopted digital technologies to reach an increasingly connected consumer. And who could blame them?

It all started with email marketing campaigns, and I think a lot of us can relate to this.  Several farmers’ markets used these emails as a way to communicate with their customers what was in stock and share other important information.

Today’s farmers’ markets are utilizing digital more and more, way beyond email. Below are the three main ways farmers’ markets are utilizing digital tools to connect to their customers.

Social Media

This is probably a familiar progression to your business’ story. As a way to get the word out, facebook and other social media channels were a natural progression from your newsletters and email campaigns. That’s exactly what happened to farmers’ markets. They discovered they had a huge audience through facebook.

Winter Caplanson of Coventry Regional Farmers’ Market says: “We had a steady following before using social media, roughly 750 customers per market day. Social media allowed us to spread the word, and for our customers to pass it along, about the really exceptional market we were offering.” Then, by the end of 2006, the market was attracting over one thousand people a day.  “Social media has helped us tell our story, build a tribe and do it for free,” says Caplanson.


Farmers’ markets are also turning to mobile marketing, including QR codes and smartphone apps.  Through QR Codes, users are sent to the farmers markets’ mobile sites. QR Codes are also used on booth signage at vendors’ booths and on products’ packaging.  Many smartphone apps are launching too. “We see that consumers and food producers share a common desire to understand one another better,” says Foodtree founder Derek Shanahan. “The farmers’ market is one of the few remaining spots for people to meet the person responsible for what they’re eating; a powerful relationship for both parties.”

Online Farmers’ Markets

Because not all people can access farmers’ markets, some farmers’ markets have went online so they are accessible to all. Although many consumers value the actual experience of walking through a farmers’ market, I’m confident that saavy farmers’ markets will find a way to create a similar experience online.

As you can see, farmers’ markets have stayed relevant and evolved with the times. Although what is sold at the markets may not evoke an image of high-tech, the people behind these have remained current to keep up with their customers. Are you doing the same?


December 6, 2011

Starbucks Continues to Addict Customers

Filed under: News — stevekaplan @ 2:35 pm

I really like Starbucks.  Not just because of their lattes, but because of their business model, branding, customer-understanding, and ability to remain innovated and ahead of the game.

As if Starbucks didn’t addict consumers enough with their beverages and in-store experience, their not-even-a-year-old app that allows mobile payments have been downloaded by millions of consumers, leads me to believe that this institution clearly knows its consumer. And how to addict its customer.

According to Mashable, in less than a year, this app has “hosted 26 million such transactions on iOS, BlackBerry and Android, according to the chain. One in four Starbucks card transactions is now executed via a Starbucks card and a portion of those are done through mobile.”

One in four transactions are done by a Starbucks card. That stat alone is staggering. Think about it. How many cards do you get offered and kindly reject? Is it the loyalty perks that drives people to buy cards? No, I don’t think so. Their loyalty program doesn’t offer such robust rewards. Yet- still- one in four transactions are done by a card.

This company knows its consumer, what it wants, and how to sell to it.

After nine weeks of its release, the app received 3 million transactions. Now, in the past nine weeks, there have been 6 million. According to the SVP and General Manager of Starbucks, Adam Brotman, New York, Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago and San Jose, California, are the top cities by volume for mobile purchases.  Also, 91% of those who downloaded the app actually use it.

Apparently,  $110 million has been reloaded to customers’ Starbucks cards via mobile. $2.4 billion was loaded onto Starbucks cards overall in 2011.

“It’s a faster, easier way to pay,” Bortman said about mobile payments. “We not only developed the feature, but we also rolled out scanners in our locations.”

Starbucks knows their customers, how to convenience their customers, and how to conveniently profit from it all. Big time.

How are you making it easier for your customers to pay you?

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