Monthly Archives: July 2012

Listen to consumers for cues on your food and beverage product development.

For food and beverage marketers, there are nuggets of new product inspiration to be found in listening to consumers. The proliferation of social media provides food and beverage marketers with a rich source of data about consumer engagement with specific brands and products, as well as consumer behavior within product categories. Consumers often tell marketers what they want in terms of food and beverage products through their conversations with each other in social media channels.

A recent case in point is low-caf coffee. Most coffee drinkers would agree that decaf coffee lacks a depth of flavor as well as the “lift” that comes from caffeine. However, many coffee drinkers have been advised by their physicians to cut back or eliminate caffeine altogether. What’s a coffee lover to do? The solution for the “cut back” crowd has been to make their own blend of decaf-caffeinated coffee at home to retain the characteristics of their favorite brew while still being able to look their physician in the eye and claim they have cut back on caffeine.

Deep Cello Roasting, personal coffee roaster, was listening to their consumers as well as coffee consumers in general, and decided that they could probably produce a better tasting low-caf coffee than consumers could in their own kitchens by carefully selecting and blending both caffeinated and decaf coffees. That’s how Speedbump low-caf coffee was born. The burning question is why did it take more than 200 years of coffee consumption for someone to latch onto this as a product concept?

It will be very interesting to listen to the social buzz as the low-caf coffee concept hits the Twitter-sphere and conversations blossom. Deep Cello Roasting has the benefit of being among the pioneers, but other coffee producers have the benefit of following the lead as the product category pioneers invest in educating consumers on the benefits of low-caf coffee and building consumer demand.

Either way, paying attention to what consumers say and do through social media, and other data sources, can yield some promising product opportunities for food and beverage marketers. The key is engagement with consumers through email, social, and “traditional” media channels, and effectively using these channels to stimulate consumer conversation. Then start really listening to what is being said about your product and product category in general.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Listen to consumers for cues on your food and beverage product development.

Food consumers influenced equally by positives and negatives.

When it comes to purchasing decisions, consumers appear to be a little conflicted. In the past, they relied more on positive information in making purchasing decisions, but recent research reveals that negative information is now equally important in purchasing decisions. Of particular interest to food and beverage marketers is the fact that consumers are finding both positive and negative information about products from the same pipeline.

According to a 2011 Cone Online Influence Trend Tracker, 80% of consumers changed their minds and decided not to purchase a product or service based solely on negative information found through online sources. By comparison, 87% of consumers reinforced their decision to purchase based on positive information from online sources. Clearly, consumers are seeking and using the information, positive and negative, that is readily available from online sources to make purchasing decisions.

Consumers are exercising a great deal of discrimination before they spend any of their money, whether for big ticket items or everyday affordable items. For example, 53% of auto purchasers, understandably, did online information gathering before vehicle shopping, but an impressive 39% of consumers shopping for affordable, everyday food and beverage products also did some online homework before or during their grocery shopping trip.

For food and beverage marketers, the take away is that consumers want purchase reassurance from sources other than, or in addition to, personal recommendations. Marketers need to provide as much positive online information as possible, through relavent content on consumer friendly websites, targeted email, and effective use of social media. While marketers can’t control everything that is being said about their brands and products, direct consumer communication efforts can help ensure that consumers pick up on the positives of your brands and products.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Food consumers influenced equally by positives and negatives.

Are you socially presumptuous when it comes to social media?

Many food and beverage marketers have jumped on the social media bandwagon and there are many valid reasons to do so. However, jumping on the bandwagon and actually conducting the band are two different things. Social media can be a great promotional and marketing tool, but it must be used effectively. Here’s some questions to consider:

What’s a “Like” relationship? I personally really like Sticky Fingers Bakeries’ Premium Scone Mixes – they’re quick, easy, and always consistently good, and that’s why I buy them and recommend them to my friends. That is the extent of the relationship I want to have with this product. The product-consumer relationship is defined by the consumer, and the “buzz” they create is not driven by pushing the “Like” button on a Facebook page. Social media marketing is not about the way you think consumers should engage with your product, it’s about providing a portal for consumers to talk amongst themselves about your product. Don’t presume that every consumer who really likes your product wants a relationship beyond being a repeat buyer.

What do I have to do to get more fans? Food and beverage marketers are asking the wrong question here. The presumption is that, over time, more fans will increase sales, and there is data to support the link between strategic business objectives and social media. But, the real objective of social media is to drive engagement among consumers because that’s what drives sales. It’s nice to be liked, but it’s nicer to have fans, even ones that didn’t push “Like”, that are actually buying your food and beverage products.

If you build it, they will come, right? When Facebook created pages for marketers, most marketers presumed that they needed to respond by creating a page.  While in most cases this is probably a good decision, for some food and beverage marketers, fan page activity is not necessarily the best way to grow sales. The real question is: what activities and consumer engagement relate best to my products and business objectives? The answer to this question should define your social media plan to create consumer experiences and opportunities that will affect sales growth in a positive direction.

Social media is one of many marketing and promotional tools, that when used effectively, can enhance branding and drive food product sales. But, it is socially presumptuous to think that this will happen without thoughtful planning, implementation, and an ongoing commitment to monitoring and responding within this dynamic media channel.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Are you socially presumptuous when it comes to social media?

Impress “The Press” for tradeshow success.

Food and beverage marketers spend a considerable amount of time and resources annually on tradeshows, but they don’t always “Press” for all the opportunities to promote. Obviously, impressing existing and potential new customers is one of the primary objectives in exhibiting at tradeshows. But, there is another very important objective that many marketers overlook or are not really prepared to take full advantage of…impressing “The Press”.

Among all the visitors at tradeshows are a fair number of members of the media, “The Press”. They attend these shows for many of the same reasons your potential customers do…to network and see what’s new. They’re also looking for products and companies to talk and write about.  Do you know how to engage them and impress them and, more importantly, give them some positives to say about your company and products?

These four tips will go along way in impressing “The Press”:

1. Know your product. This sounds like a non sequitur, but it is amazing how many exhibitors have individuals manning their exhibits that have not been well-informed, and are not prepared to answer even basic product and formulation questions. Members of the media are looking for information and facts to write about, so be prepared to provide them.

2. Hold the pitch a moment. It is a good idea to identify the person you’re about to speak with to determine the kind of conversation you should have. Members of the media are not your potential customers and they really aren’t interested in the hardcore sales pitch. They’re on a fact finding and story developing mission, and don’t need costs per case and show specials information.

3. Tell your story. Members of the media are really story hounds. They want to know the back story, your vision, and the trials and tribulations in bringing your product to market. One important caveat: be brief. Verbally summarize and provide a company fact sheet or press release, to be read later, that fills in the details. Provide high quality, up-to-date POS and marketing materials, along with your business card that provides current contact information. Invite members of the media to contact you later with any questions or requests for quotations from you for the article being written.

4. Tempus fugit. Time really flies at a tradeshow…so many exhibitors, so little time. Be prepared to answer questions and provide information as succinctly as possible.  The members of the media will really appreciate and remember you for it.

Seizing an opportunity to promote your company, brands, and products to the media at tradeshows is an important part of the ROI in exhibiting at them. Some pre-show planning can go a long way in pressing for every promotional advantage that tradeshows have to offer.

If you’re interested in designing a new tradeshow exhibit or refreshing your current exhibit and sales materials, please contact us.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Impress “The Press” for tradeshow success.