Mission-Based Food Brands to Make Waves in 2018

Posted by Kevin Keating on Jan 15, 2018 8:00:00 AM

The depth and extent of consumer marketing insights that can be gained from the information revolution are astounding. Likewise, consumers have never before had so much insight into what goes on behind the scenes with their favorite brands. No longer can a brand keep a press conference gaffe or an ethical dispute hidden. 

Brands can bet that ethical issues and unintended “hot mic” moments will be shared widely and instantly.

As a result of this, and the simple fact that they now have vastly more choices than they once did, consumers are more prone to letting their pocketbooks express their values based on the products they buy. It is not only for high-end items like ethically sourced diamonds. Consumers want their values to be reflected in the everyday goods they buy, including the coffee, lunch snacks, produce, and paper towels that stock their homes. 

Consumer Marketing Insights into Their Values

It is safe to say that consumers still prize value for the price. At the same time, however, they are able to learn more about how well brands’ beliefs and missions align with their own. What are a brand’s sustainability policies and how do they actually carry them out? Are identifiable animal welfare practices being used by a consumer’s favorite brand of eggs or milk? People want to know.

Consumers care more about the people behind the scenes that make their favorite products possible. Are farmers paid a fair price for their coffee or cocoa? When a brand says it uses locally sourced ingredients, is that actually the case, and do they treat local suppliers respectfully? Does a brand do the bare minimum to be able to claim it is “organic,” or is it truly invested in the concept? Not only do people care about these values, they are willing to pay a premium to buy brands that share them. 

Brands Cannot Get Away with Just Lip Service to Values

What this essentially means for brands is that they cannot get away with simply paying lip service to important values. Of course, in some cases, package labels like “Fair Trade” or “Organic” can only be used if certain conditions are met. 

Consumers want to know their favorite brands share their values, and that packaging claims are verifiable. 

In other cases, where the rules are more relaxed, brands that pretend to be something they are not may get away with it today, but it is only a matter of time until someone finds out and makes an unpleasant discovery go viral online. In short, brands must practice what they preach, or they will not be able to take advantage of important consumer marketing insights over the long term. 

Long Term Benefits Must Outweigh Immediate Gains in Many Cases

Mission-based products and their appeal to consumers is a long game. Consumers interact with mass brands on a scale never before seen, and the brands that stand to gain the most over the long term are those that are willing to align their practices with consumer values, even if it eats into immediate profits or will not pay off for several months or years. As one example, grass-fed meat and dairy products require an investment of time and money up front. However, those investments pay off long term because of increased consumer loyalty, and in some cases, consumers becoming brand ambassadors based on a company’s values. 

Packaging Design Should Reflect Mission and Values

It only makes sense that packaging design should be mindful of consumer marketing insights. People want to see right on the label whether the packaging is sustainable and whether the ingredients were procured under fair trade practices, for instance. Such packaging designs have the effect of simplifying the consumer’s path to purchase, a privilege many of them are willing to pay extra to obtain. 

Price, taste, and value will always be critically important to food brands. Increasingly, however, consumers want to make choices that not only fit into their budget and tastes but also fit into their personal mission and values. Brands that recognize this and tailor their products to more closely align with consumer values concerning sustainability, animal welfare, fair trade, local sourcing, and the like will be the ones that have the strongest customer loyalty over the long term. 

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Topics brand, food branding