BLOG: Playing the platform game
Author: Harm Custers – Head of Marketing at Takii Europe B.V.
The COVID-19 pandemic has speeded up certain market developments and created new opportunities. An example of this is the fast-growing trend that consumers like to buy fresh, directly from the farmer. Good for farmers, yet with some challenges in scale and distribution. Except when you utilize the incredible power of today’s digital platforms. Suddenly the market potential becomes gigantic; farmers can scale-out and direct consumer sales can become an interesting business model.
Alibaba, China’s (and probably the world’s) largest online commerce company, helps out local farmers to ‘smart’ sell their (surplus) products directly to consumers. An opportunity for many farmers and growers to recover from the situation caused by COVID-19, which makes it difficult for fresh produce to reach restaurants, markets and consumers. Alibaba gave a huge promotional push for agricultural produce and opened up their digital technologies and platforms to create experiences around farmed goods.
An interactive game ‘fantastic farm’ has been released, to gain interest in and growth for the agriculture sector. Meanwhile, over 30.000 types of agricultural produce have been spotlighted in this game. It is played billions of times and has strongly contributed to a sales increase of agricultural produce. Alibaba supports millions of local farmers, by developing their brands, telling food stories at the origin and improving their income.
This model has been increasingly adopted by global brands and food producers outside of China. It has the interest of various players in countries like Thailand, South Korea, New-Zealand, Spain and Russia, where similar developments took place.
A platform business facilitates value exchanges between two or more interdependent groups, usually consumers and producers. If you are not yet convinced of the power of platforms with their gigantic scale, please note that today seven of the ten most valuable global companies are based on a platform business model: Alibaba, Alphabet (Google), Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Tencent.
I am looking forward to hearing more about such platform initiatives in our own business. Such direct consumer interaction will strongly support the process of consumer centricity, which has always been a challenge in horticulture (having a long, traditional supply chain). Which now suddenly comes within reach!