New research identifies the three global tensions that all brands must manage in order to gain the trust of tomorrow’s consumers.
COVID-19 is the ultimate driver of food and health trends, since there is no vaccine or cure and the risk is higher for people with existing health problems. There have also been discussions about the implications of preventive measures against the virus for both our physical and mental health. The most important and lasting trend is all about self-care. Your health is your own responsibility. But who should you trust with your health?
Brand trust as the key factor for choice
How can a small disruptive brand like Swedish dairy challenger Oatly maintain its values and consumer trust as it grows into a global brand? How can a large mass-market corporation retain the values of its small brand acquisition and maintain the loyalty of its consumers?
The general view appears to be that small brands are trusted because they are local and ethical, whereas big brands are global and selfish. But is it true that big brands cannot be trusted? And is it inevitable that small brands lose trust when they become a major name?
The three tensions all brands must manage
Based on our consulting observations of health trends, we asked our international research team on Lund University’s Master’s Programme in Applied Cultural Analysis to find out how a food brand can manage and respond to tomorrow’s shifting consumer landscape. They identified three tensions that any brand, large or small, has to manage to be trusted by tomorrow’s consumers.
Tension 1: global vs local
If consumers prefer local brands, then you need to make a point about being global. If we want global brands to bring us enjoyment, fun and convenience then they also have to demonstrate that they take sustainability and their global environmental footprint seriously. We are motivated by the food and beverage benefits that brands bring us, but it will be how they manage their global environmental footprint that will give us permission to buy. As for Oatly, they can go global as they have a globally relevant ‘political’ message about the sustainability of cow’s milk.
Tension 2: fast food vs slow food
While many people compromise on sit-down meals due to their busy and on-the-go lifestyles, consumers do want to make an effort to make healthy ‘slow food’ that’s good for both body and soul. So the fast-food industry has to endeavor to incorporate the benefits of slower foods that are rooted in 'goodness', not just convenience. This was the idea behind MyFoodie – foodier than a smoothie, where we tried to address the compromise many consumers feel they make when they choose an on-the-go snack.
Tension 3: ethical vs ‘selfish’
Many consumers nowadays say they refuse to buy products that they believe go against their personal values. However, we know they will compromise for the sake of an indulgence, such as 'treating yourself' or 'feeling good in the moment'. This tension between an ethical choice and what I call a ‘selfish’ choice is the final tension a brand must manage. And, as we know, this tension is closely connected to your brand’s category. Are you sinful or virtuous?
Food that ‘talks’ and creates a bond with consumers
The final research report was called Food That Talks and addressed the issue of how your brand has to talk to consumers about these tensions. Silence is no longer an option. Consequently, in the context of health, storytelling works better than health claims for your brand. It helps you understand what narratives appeal to consumers and how to apply them to your brand.
Against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, we are seeing how bonding with consumers has become relevant for all brands, and how purposeful brands are finding (new) ways to reach consumers.
In a recent webinar on brand storytelling, we summarised the action you need to take for your brand, as listed below.
The COVID-19 checklist for your brand narrative
1. Does it help anyone?
2. Combine purpose & practicality
3. Educate/counter fake news
4. Funds & supplies
5. Adopt a more grass roots approach; don't spend on expensive billboard ads when the money could be used elsewhere!
This final part of the webinar is something we would like to share with all of you. The recorded part of the webinar is available here. For more information about storytelling for food and health brands, please contact email@example.com.
About HMT (HealthyMarketingTeam)
The HMT are experts in brand strategy and innovation for the food and nutrition industry in health and wellness. In recent years, HMT has been working in more than 60 countries on 6 continents with customers operating in the food, beverages and supplements segments. Thanks to research co-operation with leading university institutions, HMT also deep-dive into consumer motives behind food and beverage choices. This article is based on HMT’s Global Game Changer Trend Report, which describes macro trends – the game-changers, along with strategies and brand examples, as well as providing profiles of future consumers – ‘the healthy believers’.
Peter Wennström, The HMT, Founder & Senior Consultant
Peter is the founder and lead consultant at HMT. With over 25 years’ experience in international brand management and consultancy in nutrition, health and wellness, he set up HMT in 2007 with the mission of bringing healthier brands and healthier business to its customers in the global nutrition industry.
Peter is regarded as one of the world’s leading experts in food and health marketing. He has authored several books and industry guides on the subject, including the latest FourFactors ® for Growth Market Success book, with the combined experience of HMT’s senior consultants.