What C-stores Can Learn From Farmers Markets

EUGENE, Ore. – King Retail Solutions (KRS) recently conducted a survey of 250 U.S. shoppers that deconstructs the core elements of a farmers market and analyzes how much average value shoppers place on each of those elements. By better understanding how key factors work together to build their appeal, retailers can channel the value proposition of a farmers market and improve their overall customer experience.

Results of the summer 2014 survey emphasize the broad appeal of community-run local street markets, a.k.a. farmers markets. These institutions hold mass consumer appeal and thrive in thousands of communities in the United States. According to KRS, the farmers market concept is structurally basic, yet difficult to reproduce on a commercial scale due to their nature, which is self-contained, hyperlocal and constantly evolving with their community.

KRS identified and surveyed five top U.S. farmers markets in distinct regions around the country: Green City Market Chicago, Ithaca Farmers’ Market, Little Italy Mercato San Diego, Pike Place Market Seattle, and SFC Farmers’ Market Austin. It analyzed the 50 most recent Yelp reviews for each market, and identified and catalogued any pros and cons that were mentioned.

The most-cited positive aspects include the variety of food available, the freshness of the products, the prepared food available and the entertaining nature of farmers markets. Common complaints include expensive products, large crowds, the annoyance of parking, and inconsistent availability of merchandise that sells out.

Based on its analysis of the survey results, KRS developed a list of ways retailers can create a "best of" street market experience within their stores. Among the items on the list are: 

  • Become a destination for community activity. 
  • Offer a variety of local products and promote their locality. 
  • Sell really great fresh-prepared foods. 

“Innovators in branding a retail experience -- stores like Whole Foods and Starbucks and Target -- have figured out how to turn the drudgery of a shopping trip into a sought-after experience," said Christopher Studach, creative director for KRS. "The next wave of innovation will come from the retailers who take that a step further, getting more local, tapping deeper into the communities they serve and creating environments that entertain, educate, and allow shoppers to linger and enjoy their purchases.”

The full report is viewable here on the KRS website.