This week on “Masters of Metrics”, our host Emma Lo Russo talks to Tristan Harris, the co-CEO of Harris Farm Markets. They discuss Harris Farm Markets’ expansion into the digital marketplace, and how that affected their marketing. Putting their values first creates value for the customer, the employees, and the business as a whole, and social media is a great place to tell Harris Farm’s values-driven story.
From bricks and mortar to the digital marketplace
David and Cathy Harris founded Harris Farm Markets in 1971. They’ve been in the fresh fruit and veg industry for 40 years, and Harris Farm is still a family business today, with their children as co-CEOs co-ordinating different branches of the business.
Tristan Harris oversees much of the buying, including exciting advances in artificial intelligence modelling to predict customer behaviour and desires.
Harris Farm got online in just three weeks – thanks to a “smartass” challenge between Tristan and his brother Angus! They learned from fast, early mistakes and missteps to make every iteration of the website and its services better.
That was 10 years ago. With all that experience and adaptation under their belts, they’ve developed a substantial, sophisticated online business.
How numbers give you direction in your business and marketing
Harris Farm Markets has seen the benefits of digital in all aspects of their business, from predictive buying analytics to marketing. The COVID-19 pandemic actually broke their predictive buying/selling models, but that has shown them where there’s room for improvement, and they have had promising results.
In terms of marketing analytics, Tristan’s top recommendation for businesses is to keep watch on metrics like conversion rates and lifetime customer value closely. If you keep their cost of acquisition below the lifetime customer value, that shows digital is working.
And, Tristan says, it’s easier to determine that with digital marketing and social media than in bricks and mortar.
Tristan Harris: Marketing should be the execution of strategy
Take the Imperfect Picks campaign.
“Imperfect Picks” is good for the environment, rallying around it makes employees proud, and it makes customers happy. As Tristan points out, that’s when you get massive amounts of shares and comments on social media.
Agility, credibility and customer trust are all factors of Harris Farm’s digital marketing success, but so is recognising the community power of social media.
Marketing links the customer to the business through stories. For example, marketing’s job is not where the bakery is, but the story behind the baked goods. Social media is a great vehicle for telling stories and talking to customers – and Tristan believes that Harris Farms has a great story.
Growing up in a family business means that the business is always part of the home and work conversations (and fights). Harris Farm’s marketing, for example, is driven by the values the family wants to shine through, and the business outcomes the family wants to achieve.
Marketing needs to understand the family values and the customer desires, then marry that to the new shiny thing, and sometimes it’s an interesting process getting concepts approved by the whole family.
However, it’s when the family values and the creativity come together, Tristan says, that a marketing campaign really shines.
The future of online grocery shopping
Tristan is candid in admitting they still have a huge amount of work to do with Harris Farm’s digital ecosystem, especially since the “online grocery shopping” space is ripe for disruption and improvement across the board.
More people than ever grocery shopped online for the first time during COVID-19’s shelter-in-place isolations and lockdowns. Tristan predicts the trend will only increase from here now that people know how easy and fresh the food deliveries can be from businesses like Harris Farm Markets.
Harris Farm Markets uses data and numbers to inform their decisions and achieve impressive outcomes. Their dad David Harris started the habit of focusing on numbers when founding the company; that means data has always been at the heart of Harris Farm. Tristan believes it’s just as valuable to see what’s not working, as what is working.
Rapid fire questions!
- Guilty pleasure? Butter.
- Inspirations? Whole Foods and Wally Yachts.
- What age would you pick to be for the rest of your life? 32. That’s not arbitrary – it’s very specific. Listen to the podcast for the inspiring reasons why!
Our picks for the best takeaways from Tristan Harris
On all ad campaigns: “Really good campaigns provide multiple benefits.”
On Harris Farms’ ad campaigns: “Something that’s commercial is okay. Something that’s just ‘feel good’ is okay. But where all the magic happens is where those two things sit together.”
On social media storytelling: “If you’re trying to espouse your values, social is the perfect place to do that. People will seek out and try to get into their social network things that align with their values.”
On data-driven decisions: “I’ve always found that when I really focus on the numbers, if I can draw out the right numbers, I can rely on those numbers to be right. Then I can work on the right things to drive the business forward.”
On traditional, bricks and mortar marketing: “You know the old saying: you’re definitely going to waste 50% of your marketing dollars, you just don’t know which 50%.”
Referenced in this podcast
- Harris Farms’ Imperfect Picks
- Harris Farms’ eliminating plastic bags
- Whole Foods
- Wally Yachts