Business as usual can be a dog eat dog endeavor — characterized by “fierce competition” between major ballplayers who may be willing to harm each other’s interests to achieve their own goals. Although a continuous launch of new and improved natural/organic products is essential for a growing and thriving industry, the green and sustainable trend points to business strategies which do not harm competitors, consumers, the industry as a whole or the eco/environment. In this sense, sustainability begins at home with the intention to conserve the energy and resources of the natural products industry as one harmonious whole.
Sustainable agriculture sets a good example through the use of many regenerative and renewable technologies that employ win-win strategies. This includes eco-certification as a solution to environmental degradation, turning organic waste into energy, food redistribution to eliminate food waste and rooftop organic farming to turn non-utilized rooftops into a source of fresh organic food in the world’s most congested cities.
But maybe it is also time for the natural/organic products industry to implement mutually enriching solutions training and apply it in the industry’s internal business functions. Many of the problem solving solutions already employed by the industry suggest that fully sustainable solutions are indeed win/win solutions for the mutual good of humankind and the planet.
However the ability to communicate in a manner which inspires and uplifts everyone around us, while most efficiently getting the job done is an important skill that must be acquired. Hopefully, industry leaders acknowledge the need to see things from the other person’s point of view while implementing compromise solutions that not only meet personal and corporate objectives, but which bring all good to everyone concerned.
This kind of HR skill requires a broad vision, a strong sense of empathy and compassion as well as creativity and on-going humor. Day to day business should be fun for everyone involved. And maintaining a restful and healthy lifestyle is another important factor for ideal industry relations. All work and no play can take its toll at every level of the organization.
Winning Business Strategies
The desire to increase sales may involve handling obstacles, negotiating for what we want without an overbearing sense of authority, conflict resolution or better still averting conflict before it arises. Teamwork, team spirit and seeing the other person’s point of view are essential business success components.
In the case of smaller natural products retailers you may have to deal with fierce competition from the large natural food chain stores, large conventional grocery stores as well as buying clubs like Cosco and nationwide discount stores. You may not be able to compete with lower pricing which can be offered to coops or larger chain stores. But rest assured that although the presence of organic and natural products in these larger chain stores may be a relief for organic travelers or those living at far distances from real natural food stores, many consumers prefer the ambience of a smaller store staffed by well-educated sales staff and wellness consultants who can really give the proper attention to customer needs.
In the case of smaller natural food stores top level customer service is a must. Having an enthusiastic shopper stop by their favorite health food store only to be treated disrespectfully by uneducated staff who know very little about the products they are selling can be certain death for the store. In cities where the large chain stores dominates the market, don’t underestimate the desire of many health conscious shoppers to support the smaller stores. If you handle your clientele properly and create a feeling of ambience and good will in your store, you can protect your current customer base. They can be a valuable source of repeat sales as well as spurring new sales through referrals.
The Success Equation
The natural and organic retail foods and beverage market has continued to experience unprecedented growth, outpacing market growth of conventional foods five times over. With more and more consumers avoiding gluten, trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, allergens and unwanted growth hormones in foods as well as chemical additives in personal care and cleaning products, organic and natural sales have reached more than ninety billion dollars globally.
The success equation for natural and organic may be something more than adopting sustainable strategies, recycling, reducing energy waste and carbon output or donating to your favorite green charity. It may involve finding new and compelling ways to understand social and industry issues from multiple and more universal perspectives to effectively and immediately engender cross sector collaborations and positive social change.
Your natural and organic business can be a game changer, industry leader and a source of important global industry transformation. Take time to review business strategies, business perspectives and HR issues with an aim to protect the planet and the human race while creating a better world!
Simi Summer, PhD is an independent researcher and freelance writer.She is a strong proponent of organic consumer education and informed consumer choices.