According to a recent survey by The Center for Food Integrity, only 33% of consumers have strong confidence in the safety of their food, down from 47% the prior year.1 Consequences of this perception can include consumers rejecting certain types of products and seeking out alternative (sometimes unreliable) sources of information to learn more about their food. Here we outline the top strategies for building trust with consumers.
Why Trust Matters
Since most people in this country rely on the food industry to produce all of their food, it can be easy to overlook consumer opinions and feelings about the food industry as a whole. After all, what other choice do they have? But trust is essential to creating long-term brand loyalty. And winning consumers’ trust gives companies a competitive edge.
Eight Ways To Win Their Hearts
Fortunately, there are a variety of strategies that food and beverage companies can use to connect or reconnect with consumers:
1. Have Values
A company or brand with a declared mission statement or commitments to things like sustainable sourcing, a living wage, charitable giving, zero food waste, or fair trade ingredients should spread the word—on the company website, social media, and product packaging.
2. Make Healthy Products
The new nutrition label regulations have put a spotlight on the nutrition label, with changes such as new mandatory label nutrients and added sugars. A company that consistently makes healthy products (or at least better-for-you products) shows consumers that they care about them and their health. Efforts to formulate great tasting foods with less sugar, more fiber, and plenty of vitamins and minerals won’t go unnoticed.
3. Transparency in Sourcing
Sharing information about where ingredients are produced, whether the geographical region or the farm itself, makes consumers more comfortable with your products. Companies using blockchain technology to let consumers trace their food back to the source farm have a big advantage here. But any company can showcase key suppliers on its website and Facebook page.
4. Spotlight Real People
Let consumers meet the people who made their food. For example, use your website and packaging to showcase a farming or ranching family that supplies your raw materials. Featuring members of your own staff, such as a production worker, quality control manager, or product developer, can also go a long way toward forging a personal connection.
5. De-emphasize “Big Food” Associations
Small companies are perceived as more authentic and honest than large companies. Consider reviewing how your company presents itself on the company website, in social media, and in advertising campaigns. It’s quite possible that terms like “global” and “largest” are working against you. Smaller is more approachable and more trustworthy.
6. Make Information Accessible
If consumers are asking questions (e.g., about ingredient safety, sustainability, or recyclability), make this information easy to find on the website. If they can’t find ready answers, they may go elsewhere to find out. This is a missed opportunity to build a relationship with those consumers and to ensure that accurate information is delivered.
7. Tell Them What You’re Doing and Why
Are your products high in calcium and iron? Explain that you’ve chosen to fortify your products based on the current nutrients of concern for Americans. Has your company hired a consulting firm to measure the company’s carbon footprint or sent its production supervisors to a three-day workshop on food safety? Let consumers know what you’re doing and how it benefits them.
8. Show, As Well As Tell
Use photos and videos to bring consumers into your production area and lab, where possible. Instagram and YouTube are perfect for this. Show them your quality control procedures and some of your production processes so they can see how their favorite products are made. When there’s information you want to share, consider how to make it visual. A picture of a farm, a bottling line, an ingredient, a healthy nutrition label, or the staff at the company picnic is worth a thousand words.
Connecting With Consumers
Those of us in the food industry are also consumers. So if you're wondering what it takes to connect with consumers, consider what companies and brands you feel connected to.
The U.S. food industry does a fantastic job of providing safe, plentiful, and affordable food. Together let’s work on spreading that message!
Learn more about our company values here at Watson and how we're feeding the good food future!