Biopesticides are often effective for a particular pest species, crop, or geographical region. The specificity of biopesticides provides an opportunity for companies willing to target their product line to a niche market. Small to medium sized companies are often structured more effectively than large companies to profitably focus resources on a small market. BioWorks Inc. focuses their business on the horticulture specialty agriculture market. Within this market the organization participates in the entire life cycle of the product from discovery, field-testing and manufacture, to sales and distribution.
Developing relationships and maintaining direct contact with growers forms a foundation for the success of this company. Regular contact with growers informs the company of unmet needs and opportunities for product improvements. BioWorks compares their product portfolio to the information gathered from growers to identify potential innovation gaps. They then target product development efforts either through in-house discovery or licensing of technology from universities, government laboratories, or other companies to create an effective product. Innovations or product improvements may include formulating the biopesticide in the same form as the conventional product it is replacing, where possible. Using the same product form as the prior pesticide can facilitate adoption, minimize the cost of grower education, and avoid grower investment in new equipment to accommodate a new product form, but this is not always possible.
BioWorks strength and expertise lies in the commercialization process. This includes ensuring there is a market for the product, that the claims match what the product delivers, and that the appropriate communication happens through the marketing channels to get the product into growers’ hands. A strong marketing foundation includes setting the right price, advertising, and educating the sales force and growers. Customers need to know how to obtain the product and use it effectively to ensure the claims the sales person makes are being realized in the field. Through very targeted approaches, a strong connection to their specific market, and investments in education of distributors and users, BioWorks has built a profitable business. This case illustrates how biopesticide companies can position themselves for success within a shifting paradigm.