Brands might suggest consumers take time out of their day to simply enjoy their food experience as an act of self-care or create moments to help consumers be more mindful within their always-on-the-go lifestyle. The idea is to align a brand with wellness trends and values that support a more mindful lifestyle.
Use the brand to affirm consumers’ identities
Food is central to how people perceive each other and themselves. The grocery store is notorious for relegating food from other cultures to international or ethnic aisles, alienating our ever-growing diverse population. Small but mighty food brands are now popping up online and in social media with something in common—a brand identity firmly rooted in pride of heritage. Specialty food sales hit a record $170.4 billion in 2020, up 13% since 2018.
Foodie culture is now democratized and forced food assimilation is dead.
Brands should explore opportunities to expand their global presence and champion cultures with product innovations or spin-off brands. International brands have an enormous opportunity to break into the U.S. market and promote culturally specific flavor profiles. Brands should use their recipes and marketing to unlock new ways to reconnect people with their heritage.
Create moments that turn consumers into fans
The pandemic’s push to a more digital life has led to a transformation in the way fandoms come together in the digital space. There has been an 80% YOY growth in people who view entertainment as a way to connect with others. When a food brand gains a fan following (think Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte or McDonald’s McRib), consumers connect beyond taste alone. Food items become celebrities in their own right, and consumers flock to digital spaces to show off their creativity and knowledge of those items.
Brands should create moments for fans to invest themselves in the brand, and the brand to invest in people’s passions.
Build your brand’s cultural currency and increase loyalty by tapping into nostalgia-driven fandoms. Explore more digital spaces and ways your brand can add value to existing fandoms and be open to new opportunities to diversify the consumers you connect with.
Make food insecurity the collective enemy that impacts everyone
Food insecurity numbers are troubling. Feeding America projects that 42 million people may experience food insecurity in 2021. Beyond nutrition, there’s more at stake when people don’t have food. It’s a fundamental way that we connect across identities and circumstances. A lack of access to food for anyone weakens that connection for everyone.
Brands should change the narrative around food insecurity from isolated struggles to a collective enemy that impacts us all.
Dial up the role your brand plays in connection with others by creating food moments that bring communities together. Focus those efforts on the local level, where you can feed community connection and employment by creating community pantries in collaboration with local organizations. The goal should be to shape consumers’ understanding of food insecurity and illuminate ways to get involved through your brand.
Each of these cultural movements provides rich opportunities for legacy and up-and-comer brands to become more ingrained in consumers’ lives, routines and passions.
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