From technological advances to changes in consumer behavior, food marketing is rapidly evolving. In 2018 we saw sustainability take on life beyond a marketing buzzword while delivery options shook up restaurant profits. Our recent panel with our Apron board of advisors and trusted subject matter experts discussed the key talking points of what to expect this year.
In 2019, we anticipate companies will take an in-depth look at data, then use that information to create authentic marketing campaigns that alleviate issues related to transparency, delivery and social activism.
Social crisis communications
People pay attention to how a brand responds to a public issue, whether that’s a romaine recall or a local community crisis. In the webinar, Libba Letton says, “A lot of folks who lead America’s companies right now are not digital natives.” However, Letton says it’s essential to “put out your own story before somebody else owns it.” Businesses of all sizes will take note of the need for speed and accuracy and have a communications plan ready to implement across networks – including social media.
Rethink how you define your audience
From tracking emoji use to understanding how clicks reflect purchasing habits, personalized one-on-one marketing is paramount in 2019. Dr. Cathy Kapica recommends a focus on “psychographics not demographics.” Companies will dig deeper to determine their customer’s attitudes and behaviors, and look how those intricacies reshape a brand’s tone and communications.
Due to the rise of conscious consumerism and people using food as a form of self-expression, we’ll see brands concentrating on their customer’s belief systems. From strategic partnerships to community involvement, the company that successfully balances consumer education without brand erosion stands out.
Demonstrating transparency across the value chain
As food safety and animal welfare concerns mount, Dr. Jennifer L. Garrett says “now transparency means even more with our desire to have access to information 24/7 at our fingertips.” In 2019, food marketers will use a variety of methods, from tweeting food origin stories, to deploying blockchain technology, to enlisting bots on websites, to answer the consumer’s demand for transparency.
Authenticity in every message
Today’s savvy consumers can sniff out an insincere brand promise with an online search. Being precise, accurate, and responsive instills trust in a brand. Still, customers continue to put their faith in social proof. Genuine engagement depends on loyal brand ambassadors, not necessarily the paid influencers sending out a stream of marketing posts. Companies that thoroughly vet brand ambassadors will get ahead of the competition and boost credibility across platforms.
Your customers aren’t coming to you
In a January 15 tweet, Jonathan Maze executive editor with Restaurant Business Magazine reported on Noodles Boennighausen calling off-premise dining the “most dominant trend in the restaurant business.” Explosive growth in delivery and the demand for convenience will drive restauranteurs to refine their food delivery systems. Experts expect delivery-friendly meal options and menus designed with off-site consumption in mind.
As consumers adapt to the availability of information, what was once an added value is now expected. The trend toward personalized one-on-one marketing based on relevant data to deliver a speedy yet authentic message is here to stay.