Organic September: a retailer’s perspective

This year’s Organic September was a great success but there’s always room for more independent stores to get stuck in. So what’s in it for retailers and why should they bother getting involved?

“They’d be mad not to,” says Katy Mansell-Carter, marketing manager, The Better Food Company, who talked to NPN about her experience of the event. “It’s a ready-made campaign. Independent retailers and the teams behind them are always going to be stretched because they have so much to do. So take advantage of it. But also be proactive. So much of the legwork is done for you that it’s worth a little bit of effort because the benefit for the amount of that you’re going to have to put in is really worth while.”

The Better Food Company was happy to take full advantage of the month and the materials that the Soil Association provided free to retailers. “The Soil Association made it really easy by providing all of the design work in a kit that was delivered. For independent retailer like us that was a really significant cost-saving as well as saving us time. The point of sale material, posters and postcards were lovely designs – really eye-catching and we could have as much as we wanted to make the store look good. For me it meant I didn’t have to get those things designed and come up with copy for them. In terms of getting our customers up to speed about what was going on, a lot of the legwork was done which meant we could get on with negotiating offers and sorting out events to get our customers engaged.

“We had A3 posters, some of which were printed all over, but some had empty bellies so we could use them to promote our events and offers but still make the connection with the campaign, so it was really easy to do.

“We were able to tie in all of our offers and instore events with each of the small changes put forward by the Soil Association. For example one small change was to switch to organic tea. We had a deal on with Pukka for the whole month where customers got three boxes of Pukka tea for £5 and supported this with a tea party where a rep from Pukka came in and did a tea tasting and our café made cakes to match each tea. It was really popular and we had about 60 people in, including a lot of new faces.

“The benefit of the event being part of organic September as opposed to just an event off the cuff was that Pukka was already primed and was looking to work with retailers; the offer was available because the Soil Association encouraged brands to put offers on as their part of the event.”

“Another big plus was that we got inclusion in lots of PR and the social media side of things really picked up – we got about double or triple the new likes we usually get. But for us the biggest benefit was to have a really good reason to get in touch with brands and suppliers and work together a bit more, strengthening our relationships and communications. We did a road trip for some of our customers where we visited three of our local suppliers under the organic September umbrella – Hobbs House Bakery, The Community Farm and The Bath Soft Cheese Company. It was really good for us to take our customers round to see them but also I now know I can call on, for example, Bath Soft Cheese and know that it’s up for doing stuff and vice versa.