On Friday, I wrote about the controversy over whether organic is sexy or not. Today, I am going to share some ideas on how to ramp up the sexy quotient of the whole industry, so that even farmers in Nebraska will want to climb on our tractor! Which leads me to my first idea:
1. Make it big. For some reason, size does matter, and the bigger, the sexier. Think giant tractors, the Ford 150 (what the hell is a Hemi, anyway?) and big hacking SUVs. Is it the vibration? (I can find a solution for that, guys!) Or is it just that when something is so big, you can’t miss it? I once heard from a researcher that people like big things because they make them feel safe. Apparently, safe is sexy.
2. Make it red. In my previous post, I wrote about how red is very appealing to guys. But I think women find it sexy too; otherwise, they wouldn’t waste time, toxins, and money painting their nails red (would they?). Red packaging, red clothing, red accessories…hotness!
3. Make it soft. Sexy is soft against the skin; that’s what I think, anyway. Which means organic has a lot in its favor, since organic cotton is much, much softer than regular cotton. Play it up! Make it look good!
4. Ramp up the design element, puuuullllleeeeaaassssseee! Good design is totally sexy. And I am not a hippie! OK, I’m not a normal woman either, but I am not a hippie. Frank Geary’s buildings are sexy. Manolo Blahnik shoes are sexy—even the flat ones. Agent Provocateur lingerie is sexy. Art is sexy, in general. We can apply those same principles to anything organic.
5. Let’s get musicians to come out in favor of organic. The sexy ones like Keith Urban, Justin Bieber (could you imagine?!), Jason Aldean, Lee Ann Womack! (Now, she is sexy.) Insert your favorite musicians here and then track them down and get them to support organic. Personally, I think musicians are much hotter than actors. Musicians radiate authenticity. Which is what organic is all about.
6. Upgrade the look of the packaging. Most organic food packaging still feels like it’s healthy hippie food (see #4). I buy a lot of organic foods IN SPITE OF the packaging, not because of it. And yet, if I’m walking down a supermarket aisle, my eye is always drawn to the really cool, beautifully packaged products. I have to override my desire for them in favor of organic. Why should I have to?
7. Make it taste awesome and decadent. Here is the dirty secret of America: Food has replaced sex in many people’s lives. Food is the only place they feel acceptable receiving sensual pleasure. And many of our lives are often bereft of true intimacy and sexual satisfaction, so we turn to food. I’m not saying that’s right or a good thing (in fact, in my own life, I’m trying to turn that around). But in the meantime, we need to realize that it’s still the case for many people, and it’s OK to offer people sexy food pleasure.
8. Be confident, not apologetic. Confidence is totally hot. We all are drawn to the people in the room who radiate strength, confidence, and charisma (which is another word for sexiness). This is why women love cowboys (and so do horses). Too often, the organic community is defensive, apologetic, argumentative, and downright boring…. Not good foreplay! No one with those characteristics is ever going to be a hero or heroine in a romance novel. Which brings me to the next one:
9. Embrace romance! If you believe the mainstream media, here is what you will find: Women don’t want sex. Republican men say they don’t want sex—until they are caught doing it really naughtily. The American man suffers from erectile dysfunction. And children mysteriously appear out of test tubes or from mysterious surrogate mothers. Yet, women all over the world are devouring highly erotic and sexual romance novels, while men all over the world (especially in repressed countries) are devouring Internet porn. Let’s lift the lid on all this sex and romance and bring it out in the open so people can really get it on together, rather than hiding it in secret. This is a major opportunity for the organics industry, if you ask me. I’m not sure exactly how, but we’ll figure it out if we stop hiding it and start talking about it.
10. Have fun. Almost as good as sex is laughter. We as a community take ourselves and our products way too seriously. I think there must be lots of ways we can tap into our hearts and humor to make our points more palatable and less threatening and scary to people. After all, the best sex and the sexiest moments always happen in a RELATIONSHIP with someone—hopefully, with some love involved. Relationships happen in the heart, not the head, and I don’t know about you, but for me, having fun is essential.
So, what did I miss? Do you have any more ideas on how to make organic more sexy? I’d LOVE to hear them.
For some reason, this “sexy” angle with regard to organics has me all hot and bothered. I think it’s because for me, when sexy is conflated with marketing all kinds of problems happen. Let’s have a look: 1. BIG? Why? More is not better. Thought we wanted to cut back on waste. 2. DESIGN ELEMENTS (color, texture, packaging) Probably okay, but such packaging itself may not be environmentally sound and could make the product more expensive. 3. Promotion by musicians, etc. Not a bad idea. 4. Decadence? Seems maybe a bit classist – there’s already the perception that organics are unaffordable for many people.
Actually, I think what has me worried is the slick, expensive approach to marketing products based on appearance and rhetoric. For me, organic is about authenticity, so the approaches with that focus seem more appealing (confidence and fun). The First Lady’s work with the White House kitchen garden comes to mind, for example.
Actually, it’s not just a perception that organics are unaffordable, it’s the reality. Organics are unaffordable for many people.
Yes, I know that the price of organics reflect how they are grown, produced and distributed, but a comparison with the prices of “factory” or “industrial” food is false, due to market advantages enjoyed by large corporations.
Pricing is a problem for organics, but slick Madison Avenue style marketing will only make them more expensive.
What isnt sexy is a farmer using a Outdoor Wood boiler to heat his house which not only pollutes the air but the soil. With all the same chemicals that are in Tabacco smoke! Then he calls his crop organic!
I think asking the “sexy” quotient about organics is not a bad idea, but the word itself is not my first choice. Partly because of the connotations some folks put with it. But the spirit of the question is spot on. How can we make organics more appealing, more attractive to the mainstream? Well, look at the progress mads since the 1970’s. Organics is much more accepted as totally legit than it was then. I really don’t think we have to make organics more “sexy” or whatever other word you want to use. It already is what it is.
Maria, I think one of the most important points you make is number 8. I just listened to a marketing expert, Suzanne Evans, who says, “The person with the most certainty always closes the sale.”
We cannot be apologetic about what organics is or can do for the world. And I think we are finding our voice just like the people of Egypt found theirs.
I think that #1 “Make It Big” is not my idea of sustainable, but in the context of the article, it has validity. It is unfortunate that many people in the organic gardening/farming communities must be as close to perfection in their organic standards or they reject it whole-heartedly. What happened to incremental progress?
#6 “Upgrade The Packaging” is also very valid in my view. Let’s face it, bad food and non-organic food get nice packaging, so why not organic food? To deny organic food nice packaging is to be in denial because many consumers shop with their eyes first! Lastly, to say that food does not have to look nice to be appetizing or be in nice packaging to attract consumers eyes is to be a luddite in denial.
We eat with our eyes, not our mouths. So you had better make things appealing to people. No one wants bland and boring. One had better make the packaging beautiful and interesting, and the contents of the packaging, delicious. This rule goes with everything in life, unfortunately, from things to people. Simple is not what most people want, especially this generation!
I think that #1 is off just a bit. It is actually Power, not necessarily size, that counts. I have lived in rural Nebraska for 13 years now. The chemical companies use the idea of “powerful” to sell their products, and the large tractors are more powerful to do more work. Hey, if a smaller tractor could do the job…it takes less space to house it. Anyway, what sells is the ease with which the powerful chemicals do the job, and how these powerful genetically enhanced (‘technology, its where its at’) seeds do more. They swallow it hook, line, and sinker. I hear how it is the organic farms that breed the insects that they have to battle in their fields. When I try to explain organic agriculture to them, they feel they have to speak louder to make me understand that the problems with insects are caused by organic agriculture. So to attract these stubborn chemical farmers, you would have to make organic agriculture seem easy, and powerful. “more with less”. I have friends who work for the chemically-focused ag co-ops. They are paid A LOT of money. They believe what they are fed by their companies because they are paid to push the line. And it sounds so good. And they do not want to or cannot understand the science behind it when I can explain it. (I worked in a molecular biology lab in the 80s when PCR and gene insertion were somewhat new.)
The chem companies also sponsor the FFA, Future Farmers of America, so they are feeding their line to kids. Organic ag needs to have their own FOFA, or whatever, to feed proper agriculture to these young and easily influenced (and easily poisoned) kids. (Nebraska is a cancer belt, but no one wants to believe that it is the agriculture practices that could be to blame.) So organic ag has to be marketed to the youth. How do we do that?
I will not say anything about 2-10 now, but maybe they could help reach the next generation of farmers. I think that organic ag has to be sold to the farmers, not necessarily to mainstream society as fervently. Society will eat what is marketed, the farmers have to decide that they will market organic.
I have said enough for tonight.
I think unfortunately, we do need to make organic food and local food just a bit more sexy. It’s the nature of the beast with humans that we are attracted to what’s visually appealing. And let’s face it, getting celebrities involved does draw people in. What will keep them is the authenticity of organic and locally grown products. But first we have to get their attention which is being bombarded with so much stimulus every single day.
Barbara is spot on–it’s power that sells more than size. Consider Apple computers–design, power, small size = desirability. Easy to market, too. If someone could come up with a weeding Roomba to go up and down rows of crops, that’ll be the making of sustainable agriculture!
Farming needs to be made feasible for non-troglodytes. Big, vibrating red machinery wouldn’t be needed or desired. Hot rock stars will need to do more than sing about organics, though. They’d have to actually look like they’re having a sensuous and rewarding time out there taking care of their own gardens (fat chance).
I totally agree with making the packaging more desirable. I am biased though as I am in the business. I am also a consumer. With over 5,000 marketing messages a day, consumers need to see something unique or they will simply won’t notice your product. Custom packaging design is an artform. Packaging solutions that work will make the difference.
Now being organic the packaging must be sustainable as well. Hopefully we can bring all industries around sooner than later but for now the organic space MUST walk the walk!
Any type of advancement toward a more eco friendly food packaging is welcomed. Although most are far from being “Green” a step in the right direction is a step in the right direction.
The “Cradle to Cradle” concept is not widely thought about in the package design segment of the life cycle. For instance there is a green packaging solution for mailing envelopes that have a Plastic Bubble Liner that is not laminated together with the paper thus can be recycled separately. My point is that being mindful that custom packaging can connect the dots of sustainability prior to production. Food packaging is no different. Creativity and common sense are a good starting point.
Well, I tried to warm up to this subject but I think we are way better off discussing cooking than trendy sexy styles of making something look different than it is. I love hairloom tomatoes because their are beauty does not depend on smooth, uniform, silky skin. I love smaller veggies 100 times over than Huge (#1) GMO wannabies. To me only #8 has true merit and #10 is tough after reading above.
It appears to me that organics are on the rise. There are many more, tasty, attractive, sustainably produced products available today than there were even 5 years ago, but the percentage of organics is still relatively small. While Maria and some others here make some very good points, true change won’t take place until one or more of the following events take place.
1. Farm subsidies are discontinued. Conventionally raised food is artificially cheap because of these. Remove them and the playing field is leveled. I believe that in some cases organics would be cheaper than conventional if there were no subsidies.
2. Researchers are able to conclusively show that the chemical soup used in conventional production is the cause of the epidemic of health problems. We all know that cancer, asthma, auto-immune diseases, and many other problems are significantly higher today than in the past and many strongly suspect the plethora of chemicals on our food and in our environment, but until the links and causal effects can be conclusively shown no action will be taken.
3. Researchers are able to conclusively show that organically grown food leads to longer, healthier lives. Unfortunately, exposure to environmental chemicals has become so pervasive I don’t believe that even a lifelong devotee of organics can avoid all the health problems associated with exposure.
4. Major failure of one or more GMO crops. At some point nature will do what nature does and some pathogen or bug will exploit a weakness in a GMO crop. A failure of even one variety of GMO crop would be devastating to the farmers growing it. Farms that use the monoculture practices prescribed by the large chemical/GMO seed corporations today generally do not have the flexibility to recover from such a failure. Since they are not diversified, they have nothing to fall back on except crop insurance. Then the question becomes, can the insurers afford to cover the nationwide failure of a widely planted crop such as corn or soybeans? I don’t know the answer to that, but even if the answer is “yes”, there could be widespread consequences. If the answer is “no”, it could be devastating. In either case, such a failure would shed some light on the wisdom of diversification and heirloom varieties.
5. We grow the personal will to, first, do the work required to learn about the reality of food production in this country, and second, develop the political will to stand up to the large corporations and lobbyists that work to keep us from knowing the truth. We have the likes of Rodale, Michael Pollan and others that show us the truth but those voices are often drowned out by the influence of money, large corporations and an apathetic media.
I like the idea a lot. Sexy is organic and organic is sexy. Who is a good ambassador for that? Who could make that lifestyle something the community would want to emulate? You are talking about a concept of sexy and a concept of organic. What is organically sexy and who come to mind? I do agree that organic is expensive, so that already speaks to a concept of organic.. Equity and inclusion are important concepts to create buy-in to the organic ‘sexy’ lifestyle. Good dialogue on this subject!