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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Freeland, Washington, USA
    Posts
    114

    Default Are we getting in our own way?

    I have recently been considering removing the word "local" from my market banners and business cards. I know many of us have been pushing local honey for several years now and it seems to have great marketing appeal. My problem is that several times a season, I have someone argue with me because they do not feel that my product falls into what they consider "local". I have tried to find an official definition of "local" in regard to honey and I get a BROAD range of answers.
    I also know that many beekeepers market their honey to the health conscious for all manner of issues. Some of these uses have well documented backgrounds, others not so much; but have become so ingrained by hearsay that they are taken as fact. Are we missing entire demographics of customers by focusing so much on just the health benefits?
    My business is large enough now that I have several honeys that are not commonly available from the smaller beekeepers in my area. People are often amazed at how different each honey tastes. I try to make an active effort to come up with recipes that showcase a particular honeys standout flavor. I am getting more and more people looking for honey for strictly culinary purposes.

    Are others feeling that the general trend toward marketing local honey might be holding us back somewhat? I have suggested to others in our area that we might think of replacing "buy local honey" with "Support your local beekeeper" I often refer to beekeepers as "Farmers without farms" because so many of my hives are on others farms and I own so little acreage myself. I am sure many of you drive some distance to your hives.
    Anybody else have any thoughts on this?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Pittsburgh, PA, USA
    Posts
    131

    Default Re: Are we getting in our own way?

    The mantra I hear a lot is "buy your zip code." Which is insanity if you ask me, there are NO farms in my zip code, and some codes are large in rural areas and one building in a city.

    If all your hives are within a few hundred miles, look at the zip codes your hives are in. Most likely the first 3 numbers will be in a close range. You can then add this to your label: "Honey harvested from hives located in zip code ranges 152XX-164XX" (or whatever your range is.) People will see that, see their zip code in that range, and register "this is local."

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Freeland, Washington, USA
    Posts
    114

    Default Re: Are we getting in our own way?

    I have seen that zip code thing too. One beekeeper even goes so far as to put the zip code on the jar. I feel this is great for smaller beekeepers, but my range is covers 3 states once you count locations for all the varietals. I have people rave about how awesome my sunflower honey tastes and then decide not to buy ONLY because it is not local to their area and they are SUPPOSED to buy only local honey. It came from my hives, managed by me. I feel that this zip code thing is limiting our customers to only the varieties in the area. They may be missing out on totally different ones like Buckwheat or Sunflower that may not be found in the stores, thus making a customer that looks for the beekeeper for years to come.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Pittsburgh, PA, USA
    Posts
    131

    Default Re: Are we getting in our own way?

    Big 'ole "Meh" from me then. You can try to show them that it is best to support their neighbors. Use the "How do you know it's pure honey if you don't know your beekeeper" stickers.

    I assume these "discussions" (let's not say argue, while I'm a semi-professional arguer myself, we should never argue with customers, yadda, yadda....) are at Farmers Markets? Are there other people with stands of their own honey labeled "local?" If someone is going to walk away from your honey, even though they understand YOU harvested the honey from hives that YOU drove to, and there isn't another person selling honey that they can walk over to and buy "local" honey from, then I say they were never going to buy at all. They are just looking for a way 'out,' for them to walk away from your table and "be the moral winner," or whatever silly motivation they have. Some people just like to argue.

    After all, what are they going to do, walk into the local grocery store and buy their "local" honey? Who's gonna verify it's local, Skippy the stock boy?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Freeland, Washington, USA
    Posts
    114

    Default Re: Are we getting in our own way?

    You've got the "some people like to argue" right. I also go to great lengths to not argue back to customers. I feel I need to put forth a professional appearance. The ones who have the worst issues are the radical ones . I feel some of them have already vilified me just because I am a beekeeper. They want their local honey on a regular basis, but don't want it to come from managed hives.
    I am really lucky in that I have no competition at most of my markets. I usually do a lot of business at Farmers Markets and as a result pay some of the highest commissions to the markets, so they want to keep me happy. I actually like it when there is another beekeeper, because we all seem to have slightly different products. I often refer people who are dead set on getting honey from their area to beekeepers I know they would consider "local".

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Starkville, MS
    Posts
    302

    Default Re: Are we getting in our own way?

    I put the county name of where the hives are located on the label. ex. "Pure, Raw, Oktibbeha County Honey". This let's the consumer know where it comes from, then they have to decide if they feel it is "local" or not.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Reno, NV
    Posts
    2,609

    Default Re: Are we getting in our own way?

    I simply see that to many people want the definition of Local to be a benefit to them. So they stretch the meaning of it. Right up to the idea that local means the beekeeper lives somewhere in the vicinity so support local business. I know one seller that wants it to mean he is selling honey in that town regardless of where he lives or the honey was produced. He travels well over 100 miles to attend certain markets but still markets his honey as local. I asked him about it and he does have his own convoluted definition of what local means.

    The result of the above sort of behavior is that the customer now expects to be deceived. and it is in this way the beekeeper has harmed themselves. So in a different way I agree. Honey sellers need to step away from the local angle because they are not really willing to live up to it in a way that maintains confidence in their customer.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Hampton CT
    Posts
    363

    Default Re: Are we getting in our own way?

    We all benifit from the "Local Honey" craze. However, The problem becomes, the more information you give people, the more they want. Some customers think that they are writing a prescription when it comes to honey. Its hard to get some to understand that the real alergy benifit of honey is really regional, depending more upon the type of plants the bees made the honey from than the zip code. Add into the formula variables like spring honey and fall alergies, wind born pollen and bee collected pollen, dark vs light, and every one goes nuts! Then you have the Beekeepers who have three poorly managed hives and an unlimited supply of honey! Where does that come from?

    We tell our customers that we are selling a wonderfull food product and if they ask, we tell them the towns where we have bees, and dont push medical benifits. I think they appreciate the candor and many claim relief from allergy symptoms. Good! And thank you for purchasing our product, we are proud of it!!!!!!!!!!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Branson, MO
    Posts
    547

    Default Re: Are we getting in our own way?

    I tell my customers that "local honey" was thought up by a couple of beekeepers wanting to sell more honey and it became a great marketing tool but has nothing concrete to back it. I market as RAW HONEY and it does not matter where it comes from as long as it is RAW it has what they are looking for. I give out a hand out with the benefits of RAW HONEY even with a little explanation that most allergies are from wind borne pollen which bees do not collect anyways.
    I am selling in several fairs and festivals and to tourists from all parts of the country. If I do not have enough from my hives I will bring in raw honey from elsewhere and still sell it as raw honey. I stay away form local and then don't have to try and explain if local is 25 mile radius or 250 mile radius.

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