Experiential vs. Transactional :: A Farmers Market Perspective

Throughout this past summer and into the fall, my wife and I have been making an extra effort to get to the local farmer’s market as frequently as possible. We’ve been to both the Minneapolis Farmers Market and the Mill City Farmers Market and plan on making it to the Minneapolis Uptown Market next year. Yesterday, we went to the Mill City Farmers market an enjoyed a crisp fall morning, with a twist of Oktoberfest and plenty of tasty locally grown food. Below are a few images I captured on my iPhone.

The pictures above illustrate how farmers markets serve as a great examples of creativity. Connecting local growers to the community is an extremely creative idea. It’s a unique distribution strategy and growers are able to interact with the local supporters one-on-one. This is similar to how people today expect to have intimate interactions with brands online through social media. Similar, but not the same. The farmers market experience is in person, tangible and real-time. Everything people can get through social media interactions and more.

In addition to connecting local growers to the community, farmers markets attract many different types of artists. Surrounding the exchange of goods and services with artistry makes farmers markets experiential versus transactional. Whether it’s the background music of the polka band, the fresh smell of organic egg sandwiches on the grill or how the growers decide to display their fresh products for sale, all of these things feed the creativity of the farmers market experience. And the creativity of the farmers market experience leads to the transaction of goods and services. Experience first, transaction second. This should be more common sense to marketers than it is today.

Back to the farmers market experience and the transaction of money in exchange for growers goods and services. There is an important insight here. The experience continues after the transaction occurs. The artists at the farmers market offer their art to share with market-goers, who then bring the art they purchase back to their homes to share with their family and friends. Usually in the form of food on the table and the story about where it came from. Those who attend farmers markets also feel an emotional tie to their experience, as they know their actions are helping drive a sustainable future for agriculture.

This is an ideal situation for marketers. Let people who have purchased your product or service speak emotionally on your behalf and help tell your story. After all, it’s stories that stick with people (long term), not promotions or campaigns (short term). Focus on creating meaningful experiences for people first and the transactions will follow.