January sale: 0% off!

Riverford’s quiet revolution

You won’t be seeing a sale at Riverford this January – or at any other time. It might seem like we’re being mean, but the opposite is true: saying ‘no’ to discount marketing is fairest for everyone, including you!

Offers are everywhere. Banks offer you £150 to open an account, broadband companies have rock-bottom introductory tariffs, veg box suppliers give your fourth box free, supermarkets offer £20 off your first delivery… but where does all that money come from? Answer: someone else is made to pay for it, through inflated prices for existing customers, squeezing suppliers, or paying staff less.

It’s the model which almost all subscription businesses work to. If you can be bothered to be a ‘savvy shopper’ and spend your life forever switching suppliers you can do pretty well out of it, but as the service providers know full well, most of us are just too busy; or maybe we find a world where trust equates to ‘sucker’ so dispiriting that we would rather just ignore it and get duped.

For a while, we were part of the problem. We dipped our toes into the world of discount marketing, being persuaded that it was the only way to compete. But in 2014, Riverford founder Guy Singh-Watson could bear it no longer, and proposed that we abandon this path of abusing the trust of our most loyal customers. It turned out that most of the staff agreed, so we stopped offering discounts, stopped paying dubious companies to knock on doors, stopped using voucher sites, and significantly cut back on leafleting and advertising. Instead we concentrate on growing good veg, looking after our existing customers, and have taken all sales back in-house through our own staff who know our veg and our values.

The response from the majority of our customers has been very positive. It turns out that most people, most of the time, are happy to pay a fair price; what it costs to make something in a competent and efficient manner with due respect for people and the environment, plus a modest profit. This is the basis upon which Riverford was founded 30 years ago. The results wouldn’t satisfy a venture capitalist investor, but we are happy to declare that we don’t offer anything to a new customer that we don’t offer to existing ones. That may sound tame, but in an industry racing to the bottom, it’s a quiet revolution.

Watch our video to find out why our approach is fairer to farmers as well as customers:

40 responses to “January sale: 0% off!

  1. Chantal Fourey-Jones

    I totally agree. I hate it when I have been a loyal customer for years and cannot have access to “new deals”. Also when I buy a product and I find it half price a week later!

  2. Totally agree with this stance. Makes life so much simpler!

  3. I agree wholeheartedly. It is very irritating to find that if you have a loyalty card all your purchases are at a reduced price. Occasional customers are paying 10% more than those with a discount card. However, your email box and your letter box becomes blocked with their publicity and offers that you don’t want.
    Keep it simple, keep it fair, keep it honest!

  4. I completely agree with this. We run a small shop selling caving gear. We struggle explaining to (a small minority of) our customers that our everyday low prices are not the start point of a negotiation. We work in a niche market where most of our suppliers are other small businesses like ourselves. There isn’t the money around anywhere in our sector to allow us to offer big discounts or to compete with the online giants. The deals culture is very ingrained though and I do understand that for some customers there is the thrill of the chase in trying to see how low you can get the price! I would rather pay a fair price for a good service or item, and be paid a fair price if people like the service or goods we provide.

  5. I absolutely completely couldn’t agree more! Out of principle I have totally refused to be part of any loyalty / voucher / points scheme. I find it abhorrent and generally underhand marketing. As you can see – I feel quite strongly about it!

    • I’m so glad there are people like me! In the past few months I have been deliberately contacting every single organisation I have (now had) a loyalty card for and asking them to delete my accounts and wipe my personal details: Boots, Paperchase, Tesco, H&B etc. It’s shocking how most organisations wish to chuck a plastic card at you promoting its benefits, and you finding yourself having to say “no” multiple times. One needs three wallets to carry them all.

  6. This is so true and so good; and chasing all those “bargains” also means your head is constantly thinking about prices and buying, instead of making/creating and enjoying.

  7. The view that this newletter so clearly states is a key part of why Riverford have my loyalty and why I recommend them (apart from the food!). It is an ethical company in its bones, rather than one that just follows the route of mainstream ethical. Long may you successfully do business with us all!

  8. I agree with most comments above. The ‘marketing’ world is a seedy race to the bottom where everyone loses in the end. I just hope Riverford will stick to its guns when its ‘founding father’ has retired!

  9. It’s such a relief to be free of inducements. I hate them and all the loyalty cards – completely skews shopping if you let it and even if you get a bargain, someone else will be paying for it (and you next time). Well done – hope the practice spreads.

  10. Good for you riverford brave move but honesty quality and faith in people has paid off 😎

  11. Totally agree. Cheap always comes at a price in a different way or to someone or something else. Fair is the best way to go. For the producers, for the customers and for any livestock and the environment.

  12. Fully support your approach. Not too keen on all that BOGOF type trickery anyway For me, it’s primarily about trust. My Riverford experience to date has been pretty good with little to moan about. As long as Riverford continue to honestly and reliably do their best to focus on the knitting – by producing good quality tasty produce at a fair and realistic price – we’ll continue to support. Don’t need bells and whistles.

  13. Good for you,keep t up. I have been a customer for about a year but it is fantastic, thank you

  14. I am in total agreement as the others before me. The bargain books to obtain new customers is another example of how often people choose to believe a lie without considering the consequences. Riverford is an outstanding example of people working together for the success of the entire group for now and into the future. What a contrast with people who don’t consider the consequence on themselves later, but most sadly on anyone else now. What a selfish world big business has created for us.

    Thank you for your informative blogs.

  15. I agree with all Guy said. Don’t like sales, don’t like internet sales, love a good product at a good price that is always there. PS I adore the sprouts. thank you.

  16. For my family it is about trust and honesty. We trust Riverford and all it stands for and at long last someone, Guy, has been honest enough to admit that there will be no big SALE here. As my husband says buy cheap means you buy twice. Its the personal touch too – our vegetable chap, Andy, has been wonderful – even when we had the most horrendous of floods – his trusty van arrived on time with excellent, fresh quality goods. Keep up the great work – you have a loyal customer here that does not require any type of card!!!!

  17. How I wish we could live in a world full of Riverford ethics and morals! Supporting our farmers is so very important and giving them a fair price for their hard work is paramount. We must think of the future … and don’t get me onto the subject of plastic!!

  18. Hurrah to this. Such a relief to have a truly ethical supplier who is fair to all.

  19. You are actually much better than most other companies. I have been with you for 10 years and on my 10th anniversary I was offered a gift. Brand loyalty does mean something with Riverford and it is wonderful.

    We don’t need sales we have the best aspects already

    Thank you

  20. We love what you do. Discounts are only for those who compete on price and nothing else. I find your boxes very good value and don’t in any case want to bother with a lot of discount purchasing, which usually gives me more trouble than it’s worth. And as you say, someone somewhere has to pay.

  21. 🙂 so refreshingly honest, love Riverford, thank you for being you a company I trust.
    Brightest blessings for 2018 and beyond

  22. So glad to hear you backtracked on these practices . It was a development that worried me as a long term customer and I feared it might indicate a change of direction . What about the competitions which ask for age and whether you want to share info with partner companies ? I know they’re all good , ethical companies but I would buy from them anyway and I’m very wary of such practices .

    Invites to meals at great prices – now that’s something I do appreciate , even if illness means I can’t accept !

  23. Thank goodness for that! I am so fed up with trying to navigate my way through sales and discounts and – should I buy now or wait in case there is a reduction. In fact it is so difficult to know what the true price of anything is these days…rrp means very little.
    Riverford we salute you, one of the few companies we can trust.
    Every good wish for 2018

  24. Margaret Lawrenson

    Like every other commenter so far, I agree with your stance. All good wishes for the coming season.

  25. YES!!!!!!!!!
    Interestingly I have been seriously considering writing an email of appreciation and gratitude to Riverford regarding this topic, titled “Thank you for being so unpretentious”.

    Promotions, deals, and discounts. It is a psychological game that most organisations take advantage of. It’s a game that nibbles on our mental resources every time we are exposed to it. It’s a game that manipulates and nudges our behaviour, and distracts us from understanding what we really need and want at that time. It creates mental dialogue and emotional changes within us that do not serve us.

    Thank you Riverford for giving us the space to shop and make decisions in a neutral territory.

    I hope that with the restructuring of the Riverford business you will maintain this fair and humane approach. And I hope many businesses will follow your lead.

  26. I might never have gone down the veg box dekivery without an encouraging welcome offer and I am so glad that I did. I think it is a nice thing to do to give a gift to welcome people.

  27. So refreshing to deal with a company that thinks this way! I’m only sorry that Riverford is one of a minority. Added to this is the sheer joy of receiving the weekly box of beautiful goodies. Guy deserves to be really proud of his business model. Long may it continue!

  28. I ordered for the first time last week, and oh my god it is the best tasting fruit and veg I’ve ever had. I’m doing a degree at the moment which means I’m pretty much poor all the time until I’m done and go into full time work but I’d rather pay a fair price (both for me and the supplier!) for a small fruit & veg box each week and just cut out snacks and junk food than chase bargains or fiddle vouchers. You have yourself a new satisfied customer.

  29. Well done Riverford long may you continue to go from strength to strength !

  30. Buying veg from Riverford where no price reductions are offered for products which at the first look and touch not being at the best or even good shape. Anybody can see best before date on milk for example and the same is with checking veg or fruit before placing it in a box. I’ve been loyal customer for almost 5 years, but for last few months constantly experiencing now hit and miss in quality. Should I stop buying products which send out of date or should be there revolution in pricing at Riverford?

    • Not sure what you are experiencing I am afraid. On the very rare occasion I have received a “ duff “ item, a quick phone call sorts it. But very rare to receive anything which is not in tip top condition…
      Could you explain better…..?

    • I don’t agree with you at all, Daniel. I don’t know where your Riverford box is coming from but my Bristol boxes are always as fresh as though picked from my garden the same morning. Consequently, the fruit and veg last at least twice as long as any bought in my local supermarket. Compared with supermarket purchases, there is absolutely no waste with a Riverford box. In addition, the flavour matches the freshness to such an extent that some vegetables taste completely different from the “freshest” supermarket products.

      • There is nothing to agree with or disagree. Your experience is different, for the last few months quality/freshness of some, not all veg, is not good.

    • I am a longstanding customer and passionate about all Riverford represents.I work all around the country so get to order from different hubs.Most of the time the goodies almost wriggle out of the box with freshness and the flavour is so divine. Very occasionally though, I have to say there has been a problem with freshness. This week the tomatoes, blood oranges, clementines and oca were all a bit soft on receipt and by day two some were rotting. But I will bring this to their attention because I care deeply about this lovely company and they will refund me I know. I also note that problems usually involve goods that come from further afield and I am sympathetic to the challenging logistics. Note to self: eat even more local! but oh! those blood oranges!

    • Have you e-mailed Riverford and asked them? Sounds strange to me though, whenever my box arrives some of the veg still has dirt on it and looks like it was picked just the day before.

  31. I always get great quality stuff from you, and I fully support full price business. You can count on our recommendations to friends, family, neighbours and coworkers as usual. Great quality matters really not paid marketing. I myself started to order from you because I have heard about you from a good friend, your loyal customer.

    • I support full price business too, but I would question full prices on apparently outdated products. Also, it is not about paid marketing but quality and fairness.

  32. Surely Daniel you may be missing the whole point………….as the title reads January sale 0% 0ff – not lets moan about quality – surely that is between you and Riverford. As you clearly said we all have different experiences with our boxes.
    Its Valentines Day so lets bring on the love!

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