It’s the time of the year when bazaars usually happen around Doha. Wintertime is the best time to hold outdoor events when the weather is cooler. But since “ber” months are special for Filipinos, having these bazaars bring us closer to home with our “fiesta tiangge” and “simbang gabi” food and delicacies.
And in keeping with our online sessions and knowledge sharing on the blog, allow us to share some suggestions to further improve your bazaar experience, should you be planning to join one in the future. In order to keep it short and focused, this post will cover mostly the food category, but for sure, non-food businesses can also take a lesson or two from this.
Know more about the event
Getting an idea of what the event is all about, if there’s a specific theme, would help sellers prepare for the products to feature, store decorations, and even promotions. The bazaar location is also one of the main considerations if live cooking is allowed, and if there are other restrictions to keep in mind.
It would be nice if the organizers could also limit the competition by not allowing similar products and encouraging variety and diversity so as to have more options for the customers. This way, the event will drive more traffic and attendance out of curiosity and excitement for a wide array of available products that people can buy.
Products that are ideal to sell
Quality is undoubtedly the topmost consideration in any business. Therefore, sellers must be able to identify food that is ideal to consume for a given bazaar location – covered and airconditioned halls, or outdoor and humid areas. Food that can easily get spoiled or hardened must be avoided as much as possible. Even oily food must be minimized except if microwave heating is possible. Soup-based menus must be avoided too as they will be difficult to consume, except for noodles that have proper packaging that is also heat resistant.
While some food may be good when cooked on the spot or with kept chilled, space and other logistical considerations must be kept in mind (are cooler/fridge provided, are actual cooking allowed, weather situation, etc).
That is why processed and canned goods, packed items that are ready to sell, garments, and other dry products are the easiest to sell in bazaars.
Packaging for your products
One of the possible solutions to avoid spoilage and maintain cleanliness and good presentation is to keep it in see-through containers. The concept of to-go boxes or BENTO BOXES in convenience stores in Japan or Korea is one of our inspirations. Due to each food being separated from the other, it doesn’t only give a nice presentation but also avoids the sauces from mixing with rice and other food, as well as mixing the flavors from one viand to another.
The concept of bento boxes in other countries connotes a well-established tradition of love for food and a genuine passion for food preparation. Customers may be willing to shell off extra riyals to pay for better-packed food that may be taken home if not fully consumed.
There are also other alternative packaging materials available in the market like brown eco-friendly carton boxes or containers. Plastic and other non-biodegradable containers must be avoided to lessen waste and garbage. Ideally, if done outdoors and proper cooking of street food is possible, eco-friendly cups may also double as food and sauce containers.
While we know that special containers will add up to the food cost, proper sourcing and bulk orders may prove to be a great strategy while taking advantage of uniqueness and presentation (aside from the container’s other important features like safety and food preservation).
Exploring new packaging materials thru social media, by traveling to other places and experiencing their bazaar setups, and even by attending expos and conventions on the latest technologies can also be helpful. We have hospitalityqatar, madeinqatar, agriteq.com to name a few.
Keeping a Food Sample for display with Price Tags
One of the come-ons or strategies that food sellers may consider is to provide samples or FOOD MODELS (shokuhin sampuru) or fake foods or replicas of food items made from plastic, wax, and resin that are also popular in Japan. For hygiene purposes, sellers may consider not keeping the food open (as it will also affect the quality and taste). If replicas are not available, keeping actual sample sets in containers will give buyers an idea of the dishes available for sale. By doing so, it will also keep the store nice and tidy, allowing other marketing paraphernalia like a pricelist, product posters, and other decors for aesthetic purposes.
With others, like how we usually see it in the streets of Japan, we can see bento boxes already packed and arranged in stacks and ready to go for all buyers.
Price tags make selling easier. Having repetitive questions like – “how much?” is a factor of lack of information. Providing these on your displays will attract interested customers, even those who are too shy to inquire. For food that is unusual, putting a tag or name will also be helpful, informative, and attractive.
Setting up the stall
Depending on what is given by the organizers, booth designs may vary in size and content. Some can go from very simple, clean and straightforward, to elaborate and heavily decorated booths.
Other design considerations for the stall depend on the things mentioned earlier: the nature of the event, and the products to be sold. Limited spaces will allow you to focus on arranging your products properly, but big spaces will even give you the opportunity to add decors or even bring in your own kiosk or cart.
Creative marketers can also take advantage of high traffic to distribute flyers for product awareness and future purchases, offer special promotions like raffle for special discounts, or even FLASH DEALS (discounted items at a specific time of the day or giving special discounts for remaining items before you close – to avoid spoilage and to make sure all items are sold, esp food that you can’t sell again the next day).
Here’s one of our earlier blog posts for some design ideas: https://bestlifeqatar.com/2018/02/17/liveblog-our-random-qf-ternoon-adventure/. You can also browse online materials for more booth design suggestions.
Social Media Marketing
Bazaars are the perfect avenues to sell your product offline – not costly compared to renting a store, and they have a targeted audience with a high potential of making more sales and profit. However, selling offline doesn’t mean you’re going to leave your online presence. A seller who doesn’t believe in the power of social media is not ready to open his or her business to a wider audience.
Doing online promotion doesn’t only limit you to posting photos of your product but also by giving-out special promotions for those who saw the post and will visit your booth for purchase. You can also encourage online reservations and advance payment to secure limited products (ie. special offers for those who will buy during the bazaar – in the form of discounts or freebies).
For others, they use their bazaar presence to launch their new products to the market. Therefore, an early promotion on social media will be very helpful to drive interest and potential customers. Some try to introduce their products to new markets and eventually drive them to their physical store. As earlier mentioned, other seller’s purpose may also be to get new prospects for future purchases (this can be done by getting client details – especially in the case of non-food products).
Bazaars are great opportunities for sellers to offer their products, introduce new ones, test promotions, and even explore new markets. Have you learned something new? Do you have other ideas? Share it with us in the comment section to keep this knowledge-sharing activity more interactive.