In the end, all forms of marketing for food and beverage brands and retailers have one underlying intention: to change minds and behaviors of those who might become committed brand fans and users.
Changing behaviors or opinions isn’t easy. To a certain extent the marketers’ belief is this: once confronted with the facts, people will see the wisdom of using our product or visiting our stores. But the truth of the matter is even in the face of compelling facts and reasonable reasons people often cling to their current habits and preferences.
Why is this? And what’s the path to creating change when change is so hard to secure? Read on…
It’s humanity. The human condition is such that we run away often from risk – real or imagined – and once a pattern is established, its tough the break the chain of lather, rinse, repeat ‘don’t think about it’ actions.
That said there are six key ingredients to achieving change. This is an ecosystem and so should be viewed collectively as a bundle of steps that help pave the way for behavior shift.
1 and 2. Evidence and Soul
Unlike any other time in the history of food and beverage marketing, people require validation and proof of the assertions marketers make about benefits and outcomes. Backstory and transparency is key. Who and how the evidence is presented are equally important. As consumers become more distrusting of traditional marketing cues, the role of credible third party influencers is just as important as the message itself.
In tandem with evidence is its twin anchor, soul – a belief system and higher purpose that transcends the product or retail banner and enhances the brand with greater meaning. What are you on the planet to accomplish besides growing the business? What greater good is your business about? What do you do that people can believe in?
3 and 4. Persistence and Conviction
Yes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. And long-term brand relationships don’t arrive overnight. Once you start down this optimized communications pathway, you are obligated to stay on it and remain persistent with it. People may comprehend even early on – still getting to actionis going to require patience and consistent investment in outreach and conversation. Stay the course and don’t waver.
Equally important is the conviction with which you tell brand stories. People sense when what you’re doing and why it matters is founded in deeply held principles and clarity on your mission. A profound sense of conviction is vital to the belief you’re trying to secure in what you want people to think and do. Tone and manner are a part of this and come out in how to weave the narrative and the topics you address in content creation.
5 and 6. Empathy and Emotion
By definition, the path to engagement spins on a heaping tablespoon of unselfishness in the brand/consumer relationship. This requires you to be sensitive to and knowledgeable of their needs, concerns and aspirations.
How can your brand facilitate, guide and enable their relevant interests and desires?
If brand relationships increasingly take on the characteristics of human friendships, then the reasons why this matters become more apparent. If you treat people as targets to be persuaded, you’ve lost attention right out of the gate. Reciprocity is just fundamental.
Right beside empathy is its brother emotion. After all, we are emotional creatures. Said another way, people are not fact based, analytical decision-making machines. While we may seek out facts and verified data to help us check and validate what we’re hearing, emotion holds court in how we relate to brands. How we feel when we’re in the presence of a brand is vital to whether or not we’ll become invested.
Emotional communication draws consumers closer and will tap areas of response and action that far surpass what the rational brain may contribute.
These six attributes comprise the grist of what’s needed to create changes in attitude and behavior.
Marking The Emergent Method
Our Validation Marketing™ model was built to help coalesce this kind of thinking into concept development, strategy and the creative work that follows. Our goal is consistency and bank-able outcomes.
Even with a reliable planning model and insight into consumer behavior there’s one more requirement to sustainable growth and success: it’s the power of belief and determination in this process and its execution. Marketing is very much a journey and not a magic pill. Long-term growth is a by-product of true devotion to keeping consumers at the forefront of everything we do.
It was and is always about them and not us. Our efforts to understand consumer lifestyle needs and wants is the real fuel that fires this engine. To the extent we remain vigilant in tracking the shifting sands of how consumers think, we imbue this process with relevance and value.
Bob Wheatley is the CEO of Chicago-based Emergent Healthy Living. Emergent provides integrated brand strategy, communications and insight solutions to national food, beverage, home and lifestyle companies. Emergent’s unique and proprietary transformation and growth focus helps organizations navigate, engage and leverage consumers’ desire for higher quality, healthier product or service experiences that mirror their desire for higher quality lifestyles. For more information, contact Bob@Emergent-Comm.com and follow on Twitter @BobWheatley.