What sounds like a forward-thinking business venture expanding from Oprah Winfrey's empire could be more than just a publicity stunt or even a "fall-back plan" as O.W.N struggles to survive on television, let alone dominate. Make no mistake, the news of several trademark applications for brand names "Oprah's Organic," "Oprah's Farm" and "Oprah's Harvest" are a far cry from celebrity feats such as Roseanne Barr getting her name on the presidential ballot.
We recognize Oprah as a savvy businesswoman, and she may have identified the organic market as a commercially viable space that she can easily dominate on store shelves. If she can get million of viewers to read books together, she can get millions of consumers to buy her organic brands. So how might this affect the industry at large?
My guess is that we may see an "Oprah Effect" in organics, much the same way we've chronicled the "Dr. Oz Effect" in the natural products industry. Oprah did, after all, launch Dr. Oz into celebrity status, making Dr. Oz nearly a brand she could call her own.
We won't likely see any uptick in organic produce growth because her farm in Hawaii has inter-island distribution only. But once her brands meet organic certification, we might see competition on the mainland in organic salad dressings, beverages, packaged foods and even personal care products.
Competition is a good thing. Savvy customers reaching for Oprah's brands will instinctively compare prices with established organic brands. Customers who may have never purchased organic goods before will seek Oprah's for the sake of novelty, and perhaps continue with a new buying habit.
If you're at all dubious about Oprah's curious entry into organics, even as a "gentle-woman farmer," I urge you to be optimistic. Or at least less cynical.
A line of Oprah-branded organic foods has the potential to reach more people, thus expanding access to areas where organic is not currently recognized or valued. With this in mind, along with a healthier farming environmental impact in Hawaii, I say "Welcome, Oprah."
What do you think about Oprah's latest business venture? Share in the comments.