Monthly Archives: June 2016

Transparency…a huge opportunity for food brands.

Consumers are demanding much more product transparency, forcing food brands and producers to re-think how and where they provide the information consumers crave. The recently released “2016 Label Insight Food Revolution Study” took an in-depth look at how consumers view their food purchase decisions and what kind of information they expect brands to provide. Here are some highlights from the study which surveyed over 1500 food shoppers.

Source of information.  Only 12 percent of those surveyed named brands as their primary and trusted source for information about food product ingredients and benefits. Yet, over 65% of them expect brands and producers to take responsibility for providing this information. Clearly, there is a huge gap between consumer expectation and what brands are actually delivering in terms of product information. While consumers place a high value on transparency in their purchase decisions, they do not think that brands are providing all of the information they need nor do they like the ways in which brands deliver product information.

Consumer uncertainty.  An overwhelming majority of those surveyed, 80 percent, indicated that recently they had, in fact, consumed a food product that contained an ingredient they did not recognize or that they have seen on package ingredient lists before, but they do not know what that ingredient is or why it is part of the product formulation. More importantly, they do want to know what these unrecognized ingredients are.

Informed consumers.  Food shoppers want to make informed decisions about what they purchase and feed their families. Almost 95 percent of those surveyed said that it is very important to them that food brands and producers are transparent about all of the ingredients in their products and how those products are made.

Brand loyalty.  Over 80 percent of those surveyed indicated that they see additional value in more access to more detailed product information. In addition, some 35 percent indicated that they would not hesitate to switch brands if another brand provided product transparency. Clearly, there is a lot at stake for food brands in providing more detailed information that is easy to find and understand.

The mandated nutrition facts update provides an excellent opportunity for food brands to re-evaluate their formulations, labels, marketing messages and package design in addition to nutrition facts updates. It is clear that consumers will reward those brands that respond to their needs for more information and transparency.

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Blog posts vs press releases. Which one is the big winner?

In the not so distant past, writing and pitching press releases was the de rigueur when food brands wanted to make announcements about themselves. The “gatekeepers” were the reporters and editors of media who were approached and pitched to by PR firms. Social and mobile media have completely changed the landscape and now food brands themselves are the gatekeepers of their own publicity thanks in large part to blogs.

Writing a candid blog post has a much larger impact than a press release and here are some reasons why:

– Relevance and Reach.  For those savvy brands who have been blogging for some time and have built a following of both customers/consumers and peers, their targeted reach for any blog post is more relevant and valuable than a press release. They have the means to talk to the most important audience to them. Press releases get pitched and distributed to many publications which may or may not publish them. In addition, brands can’t be sure which publications their target audience is viewing – it’s a guessing game, albeit an educated guess. Developing a blog that provides meaningful content, relevant to a brand’s audience, posted on a regular basis, and supported by email is far more effective than relying on media contacts to publish submitted press releases. This is particularly important when a brand has a major announcement to make and whose audience is already established and easily reached.

– New vs Old Thinking. New thinking is centered on developing and controlling brand content and it pays off in many ways, but one of the most valuable is search. If a food brand has developed a library of interesting and relevant posts, people are going to find them no matter how big or small a company may be. The key is providing meaningful information and not just self-serving messages. A great blog post starts with first identifying a problem of relevance to the blog audience. Secondly, a creative solution is provided and lastly, a brand pitch can be made. Old thinking is indicative in the structure of a typical press release: all about me, the brand, is first, typically written in dry corporate speak. Blogs are interactive forms of communication, facilitating audience participation and exposure to a brand’s personality.

– The Media is Free. Food brands have options for getting the word out about their products, services, and distribution: pay a PR firm to write and pitch traditional press releases, pay a PR Newswire or other distribution firm for a one-off blast, or create your own content. While it may seem like a daunting task to write blog posts, as a brand stakeholder, you probably have more knowledge and enthusiasm than anyone about your brand, and you are in a better position to identify the issues of importance to your customers/consumers and peers. While the time you spend writing a blog is certainly not “free”, in the long run the results will pay off in building an audience, controlling the messages, and showing your brand’s personality.

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