A Strategy for Establishing Communities Worth Copying

If you happen to pass by Salcedo Village, you’ll probably get stuck and complain about the traffic congestion caused by an event held every Saturday, from 8:00 am to 2 pm, at the community park. The normally peaceful streets of Leviste and Tordesillas become a veritable bee-hive of activity as throngs of people from all walks of life troop to the Salcedo Village Weekend Market.

I had a chance to go back to this weekly social phenomenon last Saturday and be with my friends from eBay.ph, who happened to be there, enjoying a variety of good food and carefree fun.

I, quite naturally, began to think of how this once sleepy weekend market became a vibrant Community of Sellers and Buyers.

These are what the organizers of a Weekend Market did…

  • Get a good location —> For the venue, they got a park strategically situated right smack in the middle of high-end residential condominiums in Makati City.
  • Put together a fine lineup of food concessionaires who are considered to be part of the better, if not, the best in their field —> Most of the stall owners are virtual unknowns to the public-at-large. But they are well-known and are reputed to be the cream of the crop, offering only the best spring rolls, the best quiche, the best BBQ, the best buko juice, the best steak in town. The Organizers got the best products available.
  • Don’t charge an entrance fee —> Organizers decided not to charge entrance fee even if their immediate, most probable patrons (due to vicinity) can afford to pay. Anything “free” is good. One less friction to worry about — Buyer side.
  • Minimal charge to food concessionaires for stall space in the weekend market —> I heard that the organizers only charge P150.00 per day per concessionaire! One less friction to worry about —- Supplier side.
  • Leverage on viral marketing / word of mouth —> Organizers of this weekend market DON’T advertise at all. If they ever did or do, I bet it would’ve been just fliers distributed in the immediate vicinity of the park. Well, word gets around much faster and more easily nowadays… SMS or texting makes word of mouth more virulent.
  • Continue reinforcing the community —> In the early days of the weekend market, there was only a very small area where people can eat the food they just bought from any of the stalls. Most ate while standing and walking. A small tweak job later, they were able to create a source of stickiness… What they did? They enlarged the area (about 10 times bigger) where the patrons can sit down, enjoy their food, sit down some more, swap stories and laugh, buy more food (when the initial batch runs out), sit down, enjoy their food, sit down some more…. and so on. Stickiness. Repeat purchase. How do I know that this happens? Well, my friends stayed there from 9 am to 2 pm. Each person (there were 6 of them) bought food at least 3 times. That meant buying food from different stalls about 18 times!

You would have to agree with me that the strategy was simple enough and that there are quite a number of such being implemented already.  Let there be more!

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