After a round of testing the market, a decision we took was that Zizira would make products in small batches. Remember I had shared with you the product selection criteria in an earlier post? That was a long, exhaustive list. All those can be bucketed into seven broad criteria for short-listing products for our eStore. These 7 criteria were:
- Is it High Value / Low Volume?
- Will it be identified with Meghalaya & build the Zizira brand?
- Will it be saleable through E-commerce?
- Will it open markets and create opportunities for farmers?
- Will it be sustainable – for the sake of future generations?
- Is it ahead of the trends and less obvious?
- Does it follow Chillibreeze values?
Are you wondering about the rationale for each of these choices? Let me explain.
Why High Value/Low Volume?
It will mean better income for farmers and not easy to replicate. The produce may not easily grow in other areas of India, giving Zizira an advantage. Some may have medicinal properties, providing value to customers. And, low volume high value will not stress our infrastructure and will let us work out bugs in the process. We are working to encourage low volume crops that we can buy and process. It will help farmers discover crops where they can make more money.
Why identifiable with Meghalaya?
This is in keeping with our vision of making the region known, making the farmers famous. Making the products identifiable with Meghalaya will build the reputation of Meghalaya farmers. Build the Zizira brand.
Why only eCommerce?
We hope to be able to quickly identify and solve customer pains/needs and systematise communication, support and sales. It should reduce or eliminate middlemen. Our effort will be to take from ‘farm to fork’, from farmers to end customers. Others say we should export but we are targeting India because the market is huge and e-commerce is growing rapidly.
We will specialise in making interesting and needed products from what is available. We will brand them and market them online. Our expertise is on discovering and promoting valuable crops – creating great creative products – branding and marketing.
Why Open Markets and create opportunities where needed?
How else will farmers and the region benefit? We would like to open doors for farmers with the least opportunities. Work towards reducing injustice and preventing dependencies. In fact, we should do what others are not willing to.
Why make it sustainable?
We will not exploit natural resources like forests, land and water. Will use less energy. Making it sustainable will mean leaving behind a richer land for the future generations.
Why ahead of trends, less known?
Not easy, but if we could create a product from a little-known produce of the Northeast region of India, it could help highlight the region and the farmers. And, yes it will help Zizira’s branding too. In fact, some products we are considering might be ahead of their times! Recently the food lab of Zizira came up with a way of packaging Sohphlang, a healthy rooter of Meghalaya, as a snack. The product we launched was chocolate quoted sohphlang! This is an example of ‘less known’ – may even be considered ahead of trends.
Why Follow Chillibreeze values?
The core values of Chillibreeze is foundational and is helping the company grow, while the customers get value and every staff member thrives. These are the values the team brings to Zizira.
Chillibreeze followed a long term, more difficult roadmap and had a bigger vision. Instead of just creating jobs, we are raising up leaders setting an example for others to follow. This is part of our vision statement and the values we follow helps. We expect that our impact is spreading in ways that we don’t know and that it will endure. This may be more important than the immediate benefit of creating jobs. We want to see the same thing happen with project Zizira.
I think the impact could be greater in the long run if we intentionally have a vision for creating long-term sustainable benefits for farmers. If we do this, we will make different decisions. We will get what we design.
It helps to learn from others
I came across some interesting eCommerce sites, which provided us insights for Zizira. For example, Pepper Joes a business that sells saplings of Chilli pepper plants, they have picked a smart niche; or Zara an eCommerce business in the area of fashion that watches trends, knows the market prices and moves fast. Both these are nimble in adapting to what the customer wants. It helps to learn from others. More about it in my next post.