Today’s consumers — particularly younger generations like Millennials — are increasingly looking for brands with a message, especially in the food industry. While price is always an important factor when making a purchasing decision, consumers gravitate towards brands they trust to be beneficial to themselves, their communities and the world as a whole.
Panelists from across different industries offered advice for finding that greater purpose and delivering the message to consumers in a session called “The Purposeful Brand: Values, Profits & Lessons from the Street.”
1. Start small
Don’t be so ambitious that your goals are so far into the future they seem unattainable, cautioned Klaus Beyer Nielsen, president and CEO of fish processing company the Espersen Group. Even small steps can help differentiate you from your competitors in the beginning.
It’s also important to be as transparent as possible with the initiatives you do undertake, said Amanda Lechenet, manager of corporate sustainability strategy at luxury brand Coach.
2. “Walk the talk”
It’s one thing to have a great message, but your company needs to live up to its commitments even if there are short-term financial issues, said Nielsen. When the Espersen Group decided to only use fish that it knew were legally caught, the company lost a good portion of its supply. Yet, it was able to show that it was a trusted supplier to clients like McDonald’s and Tesco.
3. Your employees are your best ambassadors
There may be plenty of support for sustainability commitments at the corporate level, but it’s store employees who are the ones who must communicate those messages to customers, noted Lechenet.
On a related note, finding the right employees and partners is key for building trust with consumers.
“Effectively trust for us begins with the people who work with us and for us,” said Aaron Niederhelman, principal co-founder of the Entrepreneur Agrarian Fund.