Do you ever think the consumer is dis-engaged with agriculture, agricultural practices and generally has a disconnect and lack of trust with the Rural sector? How much do you think this also effects the succession of young people into the industry?
I have just completed the most interesting week with 60 other Nuffield scholars from around the world. This topic was one of the recurring themes of the week and as a result, we were asked to tackle it and try and find a solution. It was a very interesting topic to tackle as the perception of agriculture by our consumers is in our hands. We summarised that it could be done one of two ways, both with starkly different consequences.
1. Natural/current method
WHAT —————-> WHEN
As farmers, we are generally very interested in what we do and we think the consumer should understand what we do and why we do it.
–> so we tell them what we think they need to hear, when we want to.
The answer is mainly based around science and statistics and is the same message for everyone.
Think of the consumer and how different they are in their needs. The same story will never work. Here’s an example;
We run 4500 ewes at a current stocking rate of 13DSE per Ha on a perennial basest pasture (just lost the high income earner buying on sustainability – not interested in stats), in a fully sustainable and traceable way providing a niche product to the high end consumer (just lost the mother of four buying on price), we sell direct to the public to cut out the middle man (just lost the retailer), we farm ecological which is way better than the conventional farming way (just lost the conventional farmer and given a negative message about global agriculture), the 10 year old kid lost interest long ago and all you have left is the activist to fight against.
I think it is because we are trying to educate the consumer rather than connect with them on a level they want to be connected on.
It got me thinking, when I am asked a question by my non-farming friends or new people, what sort of answer do I give. I am always disappointed and a little frustrated that the conversation doesn’t go very far and they are not interested in what I have to say. I realised this is my fault though as I tell them what I think they need to hear rather than what actually matters to them.
I have not engaged with them and as a result, they are not likely to ask again —> disconnect.
WHO ——–> WHY ——–> HOW
To have a constructive conversation and start to promote agriculture in a positive light – to benefit succession of young people into the industry and consumer trust – we need to have common ground. We need to find out who we are talking to and what matters to them, why this matter to them, then we can work out how we best deliver it to them – social media, newspaper, flyer, website, personal communication etc.
Each conversation needs to be tailored to who we are talking to, to have any sort of engagement and gain/maintain trust by the consumer – one conversation at a time!!
My thoughts from 30,000 feet above the Indian Ocean. If it doesn’t make sense – you know why!