Jul 10, 2020

An Important Role For Marketers: Helping Americans To Be Well

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Covid-19 has made it impossible for us to ignore alarming facts about the state of well-being in our country, with roughly 60% of adults in the U.S. living with chronic health issues.

The U.S. has one of the highest obesity rates in North America — one in every four adults is predicted to be severely obese by 2030. This is a major cause for concern related to heart problems and decreased respiratory function — health issues we come across when reading about people who are at high risk for Covid-19.
According to an article published by Today, 56% of children are eating processed foods that are low in vegetables and high in salt content. Marketers have much greater power to influence customers than we realize.

While our grocery aisles are overstocked with food options, basic food habits like eating fruits and vegetables are lacking. Add on top of that high consumption of processed foods and sugary beverages, and we have a nation with a compromised immune system that needs nourishment based on the concept “food is medicine.”

What Marketers Can Do Today

Take the opportunity to reinforce with clients (specifically health and food brands) the need to get in touch with the pain points of their customers and advocate on their behalf. It’s time for our community to start thinking about ourselves as ambassadors rather than marketers. Here are some ways to get started:

• We should, essentially, think of healthy food products as medicine for consumers and realize that, as marketing professionals, we are making an impact on their quality of life.

• Have conversations beyond marketing and engage R&D in conversations about forces that will shape new trends. This puts clients in a leading position to bring winning products to the market.

• We should use our power of persuasion beyond campaigns and educate brands about the impact food can have on consumers’ health and well-being, relying on social media listening tools and trends data. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal titled “Facts (and Myths) About Boosting Your Immune System” got 33,000 likes and 14,000 shares, making it one of their most popular articles from the last few months.
• As marketing efforts move toward a higher degree of personalization, creating relevant and compelling programs delivered by customer intent will be important to drive higher levels of engagement.

• Collaborate with subject matter experts. One of the reasons I chose a career in marketing is because it requires a deep understanding of people’s intentions and motivations. I encourage our clients to engage in conversations with people and organizations who are at the forefront of shaping trends and cultural shifts. For example, one of the subject matter experts we collaborate with is food futurist Jack Bobo, who wrote The Halo Effect, which “explores the hidden influences and mental shortcuts our minds use to process information and how that often leads to unhealthy food choices.”

Innovate With Empathy

Our agency has evolved its solutions for food companies, and we now focus most of our time on helping organizations market their brands around wellness.

The key to our three-step process is simplicity. First, we lead with empathy to develop a wellness positioning map, focusing our clients’ attention on the pain points of their target audience — particularly around lifestyle challenges (i.e., diabetes). This is where marketers can play the role of ambassador. As the famous chef Anthony Bourdain once said: “Walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food. It’s a plus for everybody.”

We also embrace the customer journey as a great tool for understanding how people feel mentally and emotionally when we ask for their attention. We diligently plan how to tailor marketing strategies to specific channels and measure outcomes accordingly.
Metrics include social media engagement, brand advocacy and success matrix around partnerships that we find especially effective for young brands with limited resources to align themselves with bigger organizations to create visibility.

For example, Over the Moo Ice Cream, a small ice-cream brand that makes products for people with digestive issues, is investing in partnerships with Monash University to raise awareness for people with IBS.

Pay Attention To Healthy Food Trends

At the American Food Innovate Summit, speaker Luis Carlos Chacón, global consultant and Forbes contributor, mapped out 10 global trends that are expected to take over in 2020. On a list that included chickpea, ube and cannabidiol, an interesting addition was ginger.

Covid-19 prompted many people to learn about the benefits of different ingredients like ginger, which is predicted to represent a growing market worth $4.18 billion by 2022. A number of leading food brands are exploring product development opportunities to position their products for the new life focusing on well-being.

As a wellness brand ambassador, I encourage companies to embrace microtargeting. Companies like Kellogg’s have already taken the lead on this. The brand caters specific products to people suffering from IBS.
And one of our clients, Lifeway Foods, focuses on educating consumers about the benefits of probiotics to improve digestive health.

Our global community is facing unprecedented levels of transformation, challenging brands to stand for something people can believe in. The time is now for food companies to accelerate the level of innovation to help customers practice self-care. I encourage food brands to think like startups: take calculated risks to deliver on great taste and clean label ingredients while innovating around supply chain and proximity business practices to make products more affordable while partnering with marketing partners who have your customers’ best interests at heart.


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