Two weeks ago, as I walked the show floor of the United Fresh and FMI Connect convention in Chicago, a vision I have been wrestling with became much clearer to me.
I visualize a large table and around it are all the forces in food marketing. At this table are the processed food giants, major retailers, fast food moguls and even our perishable brethren, the dairy darlings. They are all competitors in the sense that they are fighting for the consumer’s attention and ultimately, their dollars. As a result, the consumer decides who has the opportunity to sit at this table, and a seat means you are in the marketing elite. Historically if you have a seat at this table, your products are likely processed and shelf stable or they are homogeneous and easily assessed. You have deep pockets filled with substantial margins and Mother Nature is not a primary threat to your weekly success. Until now.
What became crystal clear to me as I walked the show floor is that today there is a new seat at the food marketing table and in that seat is fresh produce.
Consumers opened up a seat for us at the table and as a result, we have reached a point where we have the opportunity to join the food marketing elite. We see evidence of this not only through pop culture and in the general interest that consumers have in buying and choosing “fresh” when they make purchasing decisions, we also realize the opportunity because of the way others at the table are clamoring to capitalize on the “fresh” message.
The food marketers are nervous, and they should be. They see that our products are in demand and that consumers are clamoring to have a connection with the brands and people that grow their food. They know there are more voices in favor of fresh than there are processed. They know we can’t individually go toe to toe on the spend, but they also know we do not need to have multi-million dollar budgets to be successful in today’s evolved marketing arena.
So, now that the seat is open for fresh produce at the food marketing table, what are we going to do about it?
How will we embrace this opportunity to elevate ourselves amongst other food marketers and become the source for consumers that are not only purchasing and enjoying our products but are also seeking more information and inspiration about them?
- We’re going to take a step back and take a look at how we’re presenting ourselves to our target audiences and assess how we’re appealing to the people that buy our products – most of the time.
- We’re going to make ourselves available where consumers are seeking information most – online.
- We’re going to establish personalities and voices for our companies and become relatable to people.
- We’re going to provide people with content that they want to consume and make it broadly available across multiple channels.
- We’re going to ask people questions that help us understand them better so that ultimately, we’re developing content that matters most to them.
- We’re going to locate enthusiasts and evangelists of our products and nurture the heck out of them so that they are working on our behalf to promote our products to their networks.
- We’re going to analyze our work, our networks, our communities and our products so that we’re always keeping the consumer in mind and adjusting our marketing according to their needs and their specs so that at the end of the day, we’re solving their problems.
- We’re going to repeat.
- We’re going to win.
- We’re going to stay seated at the table.
Congratulations fresh produce, a seat at this table is a huge accomplishment.