In the food and beverage industry, it’s no surprise that better value is the No. 1 consumer expectation and makes up almost one quarter of all expectations within the industry. But as companies have been chasing new ways to deliver more for less, have they missed a critical opportunity to authentically engage today’s customer?
New findings reveal an increased opportunity for food and beverage industry leaders to take a stand. According to FleishmanHillard’s 2019 Authenticity Gap study, engaged consumers are scrutinizing food and beverage companies for their commitment to doing the right thing, ranking “doing right” as the third highest expectation of the industry, and the single largest gap in expectation vs. perceived experience. Conversely, food and beverage brands are overperforming consumer expectations in innovation by more than 12 points – greater overperformance of any authenticity driver in any industry. Are food and beverage companies overinvesting in innovation and undervaluing the potential gains to be made from doing the right thing?
Engaged global consumers say that only half (47%) of their perceptions and beliefs about a company are shaped by attributes related to companies’ products and services. The other half (53%) is shaped by information regarding how management behaves and how the company is having an impact on society. So, when companies fail to talk about these two areas with as much force and conviction as they do their products, they are creating a vacuum — and consumers are going elsewhere to fill it.
When it comes to “doing it right,” brands can look to global consumer expectations for what matters most. The latest Authenticity Gap report reveals the top 10 issues most important for companies to take a stand on range from data security and data privacy to jobs, income wage gaps and minimum wage, gender discrimination and more. The most important consideration is aligning these expectations to a company’s core values, purpose and business. Those who close the gaps and create true relationships with audiences — authentic engagement — will drive progress and opportunity.
So, calling all food and beverage brands: it’s time to look inward. I predict that many of the breakout category leaders in 2020 will be those who use their marketing communications to do the right thing.
Camerons Shields oversees the Brand Marketing practice group in FleishmanHillard’s Carolinas offices. You can contact her here.