Over the past several years, our ag and food ingredients marketers have watched as other industries have rewritten traditional marketing rules. Brands interact directly with consumers via social media and drum up their own sales. They go behind the scenes to tell their stories and share their thoughts, providing an opportunity for consumers to connect. Now, the focus is on authenticity, and that authenticity drives the brand loyalty that bolsters sales.
Increasingly, our ag processing clients are asking: Why not us?
Ag and food ingredient clients are quick to adapt to changing technology, but their approach to commodity marketing is still fairly traditional. Brokers and door openers — the people who connect these clients to the store buyers who in turn put them on shelves — are capable of making outstanding connections. There is still no better way to move a big crop quickly. And when prices are great, complaints are minimal.
However, there are a few natural gaps in this process. For starters, what happens when prices aren’t as good as they could be? Farmers and processors without a consumer brand become price takers who have little control in their fiscal outcome at the end of the year – regardless of operational costs.
Second, these door openers can’t connect with consumers in the same way that individual brands can. A broker might be able to get product on the shelves, but will they be able to give a behind-the-scenes tour of the farm and post it to Instagram stories? Will they share the values that define the brand’s culture? Will they respond directly to consumers posting a question on Facebook?
No, of course not. And, quite frankly, it’s not their job. When ag and food ingredients develop a brand and then tell their own stories, it kills two birds with one stone: It gives them greater ability to move the needle when prices fall short, and it allows them to build the real relationships that lead to sustained customer devotion and brand loyalty.
That said, as marketers, how do we help our ag-based clients who are interested in taking the offensive and carving their own path outside of the normal commodity-based sales process?
First and foremost, we help them understand that investing in their story and their digital reputation as a consumer-facing brand is the only path forward if they truly want more say in the process. To be closer to the consumer means that the consumer can:
Find their food brand on the internet. That means a solid website, a social media presence, and (oftentimes) digital advertising.
Align with their authentic story. Consumers want the opportunity to align with a brand’s purpose and values. A brand that stays true to its core purpose will succeed.
Buy product easily. An e-commerce platform or online marketplace is essential — consumers say their pandemic habits of buying online are here to stay.
At AC&C, we specialize in telling agriculturally driven stories consumers love. We find the special qualities that make brands stand out, we engage with audiences, and we help ag and food ingredient clients build the customer zeal that drives sales.
If you’re ready to take the leap, we’re ready to help. Contact us and discover how telling your story and really savvy digital marketing can lead to a more stable business and a customer base that sticks.