By Brandy Gamoning
March 30, 2018 – Consumers are more engaged in the food industry now than they have ever been before, and brands and retailers alike are seeking to build greater loyalty with these educated, savvy shoppers via trust and transparency.
What’s more, consumers are more frequently demanding that their food be ethically sourced and produced in humane, sustainable ways. Many retailers and brands have come to rely on certifications such as Certified Humane and Non-GMO Project Verified to address these demands. These third-party certifications not only allow shoppers to feel as though they can trust the brands they’re buying, but also direct them to third-party resources that ultimately define and verify their standards for producing food.
With these certifiers providing resources like websites, educational materials and copies of their standards, the guidelines are clearly defined and readily accessible, which lends transparency. This is especially important today because consumers are no longer taking the claims made about their food at face value. Rather, they’re looking for justification and validation. This heightened pressure on the food industry has encouraged many retailers to require that the animal products – both private label and branded – on grocery shelves carry third-party certifications. In the quest for loyalty, it’s important to carefully consider which certifications and logos are most relevant and impactful to consumers.
With a proliferation of marketing claims across retail aisles, consumers often battle confusion about the various claims that relate to animal welfare, sustainability and nutrition. While these claims are meant to create trust in the brand, without proper authentication, unclear standards can lead to distrust.
Companies like NestFresh work with third-party auditors to provide support for claims such as Certified Humane, Non-GMO Project Verified and Certified Organic. NestFresh believes that “cage-free,” “free-range” and “pasture-raised” shouldn’t be empty claims. For this reason, all NestFresh farms are audited by third parties to ensure that each farm is following various sustainability and animal welfare standards. These verification programs create clear definitions for claims and provide verification of compliance. The result is transparency and authenticity, which build consumer trust in the claim and the brand itself.
Consumers long for a connection to their food and crave more information about how it’s produced. Communication between brand, retailer and consumer is now more important than ever. With the aid of new campaigns that are able to integrate in-store, digital and mobile capabilities, retailers have the unique opportunity to educate consumers, build relationships with them and foster conversations in new ways.
Imagery is among the strongest tools retailers can enlist in marketing the emotional aspect of the food industry to shoppers. Putting images of animals on the packaging or sharing images of the farms the animals live in, via video or in-store signage, creates a connection to the brand and promotes transparency, an ideal that many consumers aren’t willing to compromise.
Today’s consumer has been studied by the food industry with undeniable curiosity as shopper demographics and their values change. Traditional factors such as price, taste and convenience are competing with new purchasing values such as health and wellness, social impact, and transparency. Food brands and retail stores must both shift their thinking and approach to create trust, loyalty and interest with today’s consumers.
To meet consumers’ growing demand for the humane treatment of animals and sustainable food production, both retailers and today’s food brands must work to remain ahead of the curve. For many, building consumer trust through certifications is key.
Original Story: Progressive Grocer