WI COUNTRY MARKETS'
|Can a marketing man really
make scones sexy?
The WI may be hitting the headlines
with the release of the film Calendar Girls in which they dare
to bare - but can the WI markets achieve a similar impact?
Out follows one marketing man who believes he can give scones sex
The ladies of the Women's Institute markets have been
described as the best kept secret in British Cookery.
But no longer content with the 'Jam and Jerusalem' image,
the women are going in search of a new image - and they think they have
found just the man for the job.
Inside Out joins marketing man Alex Timms as he prepares
to turn modest pin money into big business.
To market to market
WI Country Markets are keen to attract a younger generation of producers
Before 1995 the WI and the WI Country Markets were one
and the same. The split occurred as the two divisions moved in different
directions, the WI being a charitable organisation and the WI Country
Markets a business.
In total there are 500 WI markets run all over the country
with the unique selling point being 'home-cooked' produce.
All produce sold at the markets is free from artificial
preservatives, resulting in top quality food of the freshest variety.
The WI market is run as a business so all producers keep
the money they make. But budding entrepreneurs beware - the profits are
Lynne Ashworth from North Somerset spends two days a week
baking and takes home around £60. But there are other benefits more
important than profit as Lynne explains.
"You're never going to get rich doing this,"
says Lynne. "But it lets me stay at home, be available for my kids
and I love doing it."
Increasing profits is only one part of Alex Timms' task.
The other is to increase the market's appeal to a whole new generation
WI markets allow Lynne time with her children whilst making a modest
Lynne, in her 40s, is the youngest producer at Nailsea
Market. The majority are nearly twice her age.
"It's a real problem," worries Lynne. "The
markets will die unless we can get younger people to join us."
Alex's task is not an easy one, but his past experience
will stand him in good stead having worked on famous brand names such
as McDonalds and Carlsberg.
And it is the brand name of the product that holds the
key to its success.
The suggestion to drop the WI brand from the title has
sparked much debate and is not something Alex is convinced of.
"What they really have going for them is the quality
of the WI name," explains Alex. "It's something they would have
to consider very carefully before shedding."
The bare necessities
Where one leads, others will follow and this certainly
seems to be the case for the WI.
Alex has come up with design for an advertising campaign
that once again relies on strategically positioned flans and buns to protect
the modesty of the WI market ladies!
WI market ladies will be following in the footsteps of Calendar
"What they have with the release of Calendar Girls
is a wonderful opportunity for the WI Country Markets to gain some publicity
for themselves," says Alex.
Alex travels to the WI Country Market headquarters in
Chesterfield to reveal all - in more ways than one!
Alex's design is a spoof advert based on the 'Hello Boys'
'Hello boys' is replaced by 'Hello men', whilst a selection
of home made cakes and pastries perform the role of the Wonderbra.
Alex is apprehensive as to how his idea will be received,
but he needn't have worried.
Heather Miller, Vice-Chair of the WI Country Markets is
"This is an exceptionally good idea
to grasp this opportunity."
And grasp it they have. The end of September will see
the launch of a regional news campaign searching for brave market volunteers
willing to bare all.
So next time you're searching for high quality home made
cooking, why not venture to a WI market - you may get more than you bargained