Marketing on the Streets – Lesson from my Friendly Fruit Seller

On a Saturday morning, I combined my morning walk with a quick grocery run and stopped by my regular fruit vendor to buy some fruits.

As we were standing there, a lively procession passed by, featuring guys on roller skates, blaring speakers, dancers, and an energetic hypeman. My favorite fruit seller quipped, “Na so dem dey do o, dem go still go far far o (That’s how they do it; they’ll go far!)” I couldn’t help but chuckle and shake my head.

I was familiar with the supermarket responsible for this event and shopped there regularly, though I wouldn’t call myself a loyal customer.

While I observed the small event taking place, I began to contemplate the noticeable differences in customer engagement approaches between my fruit vendor and a nearby supermarket. This reflection highlighted important insights for businesses looking to establish and maintain customer loyalty.

Many businesses fall into the trap of overlooking their loyal clientele in pursuit of new customers. However, the key lies in recognizing the potential of your current customer base. These satisfied customers could transform into enthusiastic advocates for your brand, given the right attention and care.

On the other hand, there’s my friendly fruit seller, whom I faithfully patronize because of his dedication to customer engagement, quality of customer service and his cheery attitude.

Strategies for Marketing from the Friendly Fruit Seller

There’s a lot of strategies for marketing that we can learn from my friendly fruit seller about sustaining a loyal customer base:

1. Adaptability: You see, my guy always operated a ‘cash at hand’ payment system i.e. you buy bananas and you pay with cash; the one we see, not transfers or crypto. When the whole cashless period hit Nigeria, he opened an account (or maybe he always had it) and gracefully made sure we could make transfers without missing out on our weekly supply.

Also Read: Marketing on the Street: Lessons from a Moi Moi Seller

2. Product Information: My guy is as knowledgeable about his fruits as the farmer who grows them. He can tell you a ripe watermelon from a white one, a sweet pineapple from a sour one, you name it! He then keeps us abreast of the seasons and when our favorite fruits are fading away. He knows his stuff!

3. Customer Service: This young man knows how to treat a customer well. Watching him attend to multiple customers at a go is a vibe! Plus he understands each customer’s needs, especially the regulars. He knows who prefers flawless fruit and who would rather not bother with cutting it themselves. Reminds me of a quote from Daniel Priestley’s Oversubscribed; ‘You build such a powerful relationship with buyers that they ignore other sellers‘.

4. Loyalty/Promotions: We regulars enjoy regular sprinkles of “jaras (extras)” and special discounts, because the fruit seller knows that we will be back and so, he does what he can to keep us happy. Unlike our neighborhood supermarket that runs a complicated point system that has not yielded any return.

Now we may argue that it’s easy for him to manage because it’s a Nano business and applying these strategies for marketing at scale may be tough, which is true. I however do see the feasibility of applying some of the simple lessons I have stated here.

In the dynamic world of business, the essence of customer loyalty often gets lost in the pursuit of expansion and novelty.

The story of my friendly fruit seller serves as a reminder, urging businesses to invest in genuine customer relationships, personalized service, and meaningful loyalty initiatives. Embracing these fundamental principles, even on a larger scale, can pave the way for enduring customer loyalty and sustainable business growth.

Let us draw inspiration from the streets and adopt the invaluable lessons offered by those who truly understand the art of customer loyalty.