Food data sources abound—industry publications, syndicated research, your own primary studies, Flavor Atlas™ (yes, a shameless plug) and more—and all are telling you which foods are trending where, when and with whom. The tricky part is, as a marketer, how do you use the abundance of trend information out there to actually craft and communicate a story that connects with your market?
Whether your job is to sway the operator to menu your featured food or beverage or a retailer to place it on the shelf, everything you do begins and ends with the consumer. Lay the foundations for your food story by understanding the underlying motivations driving the consumer’s behavior and relationship to your product. If you sell an aged, clothbound cheddar made by heritage dairy cows in Vermont, for example, the entry points for your story could be multifold: the consumers’ increasing desire to know where their food comes from, their quest for new adventures through food, or their yearning for the authenticity provided by slow, artisan ways of crafting. Sure, your cheese is still fantastically creamy and crumbly, but the larger story of what the consumer wants should be the launch pad for creating your message.
Once you understand how the consumer perspective relates to your food, show you understand it and build the case for your product with supporting data that enlightens everyone along its journey to the consumer. When you can back your marketing materials, digital media and email campaigns with how your aged cheddar, your chicken tenders or your protein-powered super beverage or what-have-you satisfies the deeper needs of the consumer, it’s a win for everyone—especially your marketing dollars.
When I say the food world craves insights, it absolutely does. But don’t get me wrong--what it doesn’t crave are thick, mind-numbing compilations of stats fresh from the latest marketing study. For your messaging, quick, engaging bites of compelling trend insights weaved with beautiful food imagery and delectable verbiage are more like it. Videos in your digital media buy, as well as selective, yet frequent, updates on social media can help you tell your story in a manageable way that builds holistically over time. Social media and video viewing are the two most popular online activities.1 Use these mediums to craft your “mini-stories” with the same artistry you’d give a feature-length production on your product and watch the clicks, “likes” and “shares” roll in.
Thankfully, none of us in this business are hawking paper products Dunder-Mifflin style. We’re selling gastronomic delights that bring joy! Just like you might tell a friend about a new restaurant with a crème brulee that’s to die for or post an Instagram pic of a plate of mouthwatering ribs, infuse your food story with color, verve and most of all—a story. Today, everyone is a foodie, and every food can tap into a story that resonates with consumers. Whether you connect through your food’s local origins, its authenticity in ingredients, or simply its role in the age-old celebration of togetherness around the table, venture beyond the features and benefits to the emotional and interesting. Make your food’s narrative the one they remember.
1Smart Insights, 2018