Understanding Implications of the Culture Shift to Healthy Lifestyle
By Bob Wheatley
Legacy categories like soft drinks have taken a hit. The supermarket footprint is in the midst of evolutionary change to push more space in fresh and prepared foods at the expense of center-store packaged products. Research shows a pervasive preference for foods and beverages with a healthier halo. Organic produce is appearing in Walmart. Industry leading growth in foodservice is coming from upstart newcomers – from hamburgers to food trucks. Protein is the new black. Higher quality is now table stakes for any food, beverage and household products business. And incidentally if you’re not truly mattering to your core consumer, you’re a commodity.
Kaboom! Are you tracking or trailing?
What’s going on? It’s a cultural shift. People (a big percentage, not some small tertiary segment) have connected the dots between what they ingest and do, and impact on their growing interest in a higher quality lifestyle. Organizations are confronted with changes in consumer behavior, preferences, habits, media consumption, interests, concerns and desires.
No such thing as ordering up another marketing campaign or just messaging your way through this kind of change. Evolution is vital. Revolution in some cases may be required. One way or the other, optimizing strategies to coincide with the cultural change is a must do.
- Brand storytelling is now a centerpiece in marketing campaigns, but candidly the “story” is more than the narrative. Everything builds to or detracts from the story. Need a new story? Then transformation may be part of the answer. Here’s what to look out for:
Ingesting vs. wearing
We’ve seen it before: marketing to a message does not constitute change. Campaigns come and go. Belief systems are not so transitory. If you treat change as a transaction it’s like wearing coat – it can come off later and varies with the seasons. If belief sits at the front end of strategy, it informs how the organization sees its purpose. Similarly when you ingest something it becomes part of you – drinking from the well of belief is a pre-requisite.
Pushing all the way to the edges
This is not an exercise in communication tactics. Nor a fresh turn at social media content. You can’t simply invoke alignment with consumer interests. Your brand story is an outcome of everything you do from factory floor to policy to who you hire to what you make and how you make it. The better story occurs when everything is united, top to bottom. This is what we do at Emergent.
Aligning to consumer passion vs. “if you build it they will come”
None of this works in a vacuum. All progress will be proportional to the relevance of what your doing and saying to the customers you wish to attract and retain. Understanding their lifestyle needs, wants, interests, concerns and behaviors informs how you organize and run the business. So digging into their interests deeply, routinely is vital.
Organization fully embedded or run from the ivory tower
You can meet in the Boardroom and map strategy. You can agree as an executive team on the path. You can invoke a vision. You can declare an objective, but until every part of the organization is on point with your new belief system, it’s like going to a race with a flat tire – not going to win. Bottom to top must be optimized around a core understanding of what your company is on the planet to accomplish.
Saying is one thing, doing entirely another
Your company’s actions are more important than your words. Want to reach for credibility and validation of your new brand mission? Well look no further than the mirror to observe the behavior. Activities and operations must follow these essential truths. It is the evidence of your beliefs at work. Consumers see right through the posers and can separate the authentic from anything less than that. In the end behaviors can overshadow the narrative message.
What’s the promise of alignment and belief? A new story well-told leading to sustainable and profitable growth.