Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to attend the Saint Joseph’s Food Industry Summit in Philadelphia. While much of the discussion was focused on Food Service, there were a few insights that should be of particular consideration for Consumer Products companies:
The Brand Experience
Todd Hale of Nielsen referred to food as the “Social Network for the Ages,” discussing how food is often that ‘special bonding which connects families and friend.” I couldn’t agree with Todd more and, when considering what drives brand loyalty, companies should take into account their consumers emotional connection with the brand. Think about the products that we have loved through the years….the ones that we are truly most loyal towards? I would gather that most consumers would reflect back upon the memories and the experiences associated with a brand, as opposed to simply the attributes of that product.
Differentiation through Innovation
Almost every speaker, from Heinz to White Castle to Wawa, talked about the challenges of competing in a “flat” market and that future growth would need to fueled through market share gains. For CP companies, these gains are not going to be simply realized through pricing discounts and promotions. Companies need to continue to:
- focus on innovation as a means to drive growth
- connect with consumers
- open up new categories
Further, at a time when consumers are in constant search of value, innovation allows companies to charge higher prices and develop lasting loyalties.
Linking Not Segmenting
During a presentation on digital marketing effectiveness and consumer engagement, White Castle’s Kim Bartley discussed a marketing strategy the focused on linking together consumers, as opposed to traditional segmentation tactics. This is an interesting approach, one that is even more applicable in today’s environment of social networking. CP companies should participate in communities where their consumers currently engage or, even more proactively, create these forums for communication. Successful manufacturers will be able to leverage these vehicles to link their consumers and allow them to engage with one another.