Are You Ready to Start a CSA?

Are You Ready To Start A CSA?

From “Are You Ready To Start a CSA?” from the Center for Profitable Agriculture at the University of Tennessee Extension:

“Marketing is vital to the potential success of a direct marketing enterprise, including that of CSAs. Marketing is inherent to many drivers of profitability including managing costs, production quality and efficiency, pricing for profit, achieving some minimum level of sales volume, building repeat customers, and managing risk.

Customer turnover is one of the challenges faced by CSAs necessitating constant marketing efforts to recruit new members and maintain a loyal customer base. A 2004 study of CSAs in California and Washington reported customer retention rates of 63 percent; 37 percent of customers did not return year to year.

This publication introduces important marketing concepts for CSA operators with special emphasis on promotional strategies and customer service. It provides tips for promoting a CSA, discusses ideas for keeping customers happy, and lists additional marketing and customer service resources.

When thinking of marketing, people often consider a single aspect or two, typically advertising or sales. Marketing is actually much broader than these two activities and includes:

  • An analysis of the market.
  • Identification of target audience(s).
  • Development and implementation of market strategies.
  • Estimation of a marketing budget.
  • Development of evaluation methods.

One key to effective marketing is identifying and understanding target customers and their values and then developing marketing strategies to reach them and meet their needs. Your target customers are those customers with:

  • A need or desire you can fulfill.
  • A willingness to purchase the product.
  • The ability to purchase the product.

Try to identify characteristics of these specific target customers including demographics and any relevant tastes and preferences or shopping behaviors. It is also important to identify if there are enough target customers willing to purchase enough product to make the enterprise viable.”