shopper behavior farmers markets

Well. I have a farmers market near me. But I don’t go often. Yet, whenever I do go, I immediately think “I should come here more often.”

I love shopping at a Framers Market.

I must be in a minority (oh … but in the majority at the same time).

These are US numbers so it may be different elsewhere.

Only about 2% of people say they use a Farmers Market as their primary shop location.

And about 37% say it is a secondary shop location.

Oh. And about 61% of people visit a Farmers Market at least once annually.


What that means is … well … 2 things …

  1. (this is a guess) the majority of the shoppers are thinking “this is awesome . I should shop here more often”, and
  2. (this is factual) that as you wander into a framers market (at least in the USA) about 2/3rds of the people you see wandering around in front of you are not regular shoppers.

I struggle to think of such an odd contradiction elsewhere between attitude <extremely positive> and behavior <lack of active action despite such a huge positive attitude>.

Anyway. What it really means is that about 2/3rds of the shoppers are driven by impulse shopping.

And let me tell ya right here and now … if you doubt that the senses drive shopping behavior than you have not been to a farmer’s market lately <and you should go>.

Spices, seafood, cheeses, fresh vegetables, flowers … the smells are almost overwhelming … in a good way. And it all affects what you thought you would buy versus what you actually will buy. You may plan on buying some core items, or possibly have some items on your ‘I want to find’ list but your basket at checkout has significantly more items and a significant portion of unplanned <impulse> items.

Research shows the number one reason why people go to a Farmers Market is food quality (safety from food borne illness a relatively close second … which I have no clue what that means).

The least important factors were availability of pesticide-free and hormone-free food products and ability to do one stop shopping <the first two kind of surprised me a little and the last didn’t … although given real shopping behavior – the fact most people shop several places – I am not sure the last really matters>.

Interestingly, at least to me, in research the typical shopper seems to skew older (mean age about 46 years old). Maybe I should have known that but my perception was it would be a little lower.

Regardless. I did find some of this really interesting.

Among shoppers surveyed:

• 75% came to market to do more than shop. <so … it is an experience>

• 55% felt the market increased their connection to the community.

• 99% believed the market improves the health of the community <people feel good having one around>.

• 53% believed the market improves perceptions of the neighborhood.

Reasons shoppers came to the market other than to shop include, not surprisingly, “to eat,” “the market atmosphere,” convenience, the desire to support local growers, the appeal of low-cost organic produce, and as a social place to meet and be with others.

Shoppers made comments such as:

• “I wouldn’t come to the area without it.”

• “I feel more comfortable, less intimidated at the market.”

• “I see people I didn’t know existed.”

• “My blood pressure went from 220 to 140!”

Among the findings, there are several worth noting:

• 74% of adults were introduced to new foods at the market <Farmers Markets improve consumers’ food knowledge>.

• 34% of adults described how they shop less often at grocery stores since becoming farmers market shoppers. These responses seem to suggest that the market triggers behavioral change in consumers <the research company theorizes that market shoppers evolve. Over time, they grow more confident in their food choices; ask more questions from other shoppers, chefs, and farmers; and begin to reorient their consumption habits around the seasonality of local foods>.

All the research aside … the social aspect of Farmers Markets is powerful. It is relaxing and social. When is the last time you have ever heard that about grocery shopping being “relaxing, lowering blood pressure or social”?

Oh. And, oddly, it may also be the strongest factor more people do NOT use Farmer’s Markets more often. Huh? Most people like to be social sometimes <on their own terms>… and more importantly they don’t want to ‘think’ grocery shopping is going to take long before going (but are more than willing to make it longer once there). All that means is that people love Farmers Markets. They associate ‘more time’ before they even go and that creates a barrier … even though if we actually decide to suck it up and go … we actually like the time spent.

Oh. We wacky people. I wonder if we ever stop thinking long enough to actually enjoy the things we want to enjoy. Well. If we ever do? Farmers Markets will be bulging with people.

Me? I am going to think less and go more.

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Written by Bruce