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Marketing local products:
Short and long distribution channels

[ Summary ]

Section I
Marketing local products via short distribution channels


Chapter 3
Which clientele? Which strategy?



3.2 Defining a commercial strategy


The commercial strategy should be tailored to suit the target clientele: local and regional customers or remote customers.


3.2.1 Selecting the target group

Local and regional customers include local or regional communities, as well as tourists. This is the main target group for marketing via short distribution channels.

Reaching this group generally requires little financial investment. Commercial activities are based on establishing a point of sale at the farm or the craft worker’s premises, developing markets and local fairs and setting up promotional sales activities in busy areas (supermarkets, food halls), etc. Inexpensive local advertising (leaflets, local radio and newspapers) is sufficient.

Remote customers, both at home and abroad, include emigrants, tourists who have returned home and urban populations. The potential of such markets is great, and so are the costs and risks. This type of clientele should only be approached after having amassed a great deal of commercial experience.

This approach can only be recommended to collective craft workers, businesses or groupings that already have significant financial resources and investment capability. It is a high-risk form of marketing because the product sold, when leaving its region, loses part of its direct association with the area and comes up against direct competition with the traditional or industrial products of other regions. Depending on the sales formula, reaching a remote clientele calls for all or some of the following resources:

  • support for placing products on the market (packaging, communication medium, sales promoters, etc.);
  • effective logistics (stocks and means of delivery);
  • a structured and costly advertising strategy;
  • a sales force (sales representatives, etc.).


Distance compounds the risk
Choice of short distribution channels Cultural proximity Cultural remoteness
Geographical proximity Local communities

Low risk
Customer easy to reach
Customer follow-up: easy

Average risk
Customer difficult to reach (tastes and buying habits)
Customer follow-up: difficult
Geographical remoteness (more than 50 km) Emigrants

Average risk
Customer difficult to reach
Customer follow-up: difficult
Urban populations

High risk
Customer very difficult to reach
Customer follow-up: difficult


3.2.2 Developing customer loyalty

A good commercial strategy aims to secure customer loyalty on the basis of the type of product and clientele. A loyal customer requires less advertising and marketing effort and hence less investment than a new buyer. A satisfied customer is one who recommends the product to his friends: word of mouth is a cheap and very effective form of advertising. This is why it is extremely important to find out what customers think and to set up and manage a customer information file with the aim of securing customer loyalty.

There are many methods for doing this, e.g.:

  • organising a game, tombola, competition, treasure hunt, etc. for which participants/potential customers are obliged to complete and return a coupon mentioning their name and address;

  • exploiting the file of customers who have paid by cheque;

  • offering a loyalty card mentioning the address, preferably with the card being held at the shop;

  • writing to customers on special occasions (Christmas, New Year, etc.) to offer them products while at the same time keeping them abreast of life on the farm, at the company and/or in the region;

  • distinguishing “active” or loyal customers from the rest by offering them a gift or discount.


Adapting the form of marketing to the target clientele
Potential customers Form of marketing Type of product
  • direct farm sales
  • tourist fair
  • distance selling
  • shop in tourist areas
  • festive or typical products
  • ordinary food products sold in summer in local tourist areas
  • sale throughout the area during the period when emigrants return home (roadside, farm, etc.)
  • distance selling
  • traditional typical products
  • products which keep well in the case of distance selling
Local rural communities
  • direct farm sales
  • local markets
  • ordinary consumer products
Urban populations
  • urban shop
  • gastronomic fair
  • range of products
  • festive products

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