What food brands can learn from Apple, Food Bloggers, Traditional Publishing and Instagram

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Jay Dillon

Director of Strategy and Creative at Inbound Experts
Jay is a digital marketer and producer whose creative and technical skills have developed digital brand strategies and sales campaigns using a range of complex internet applications from stand-alone websites through to Facebook API integrations.
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Food marketing and blogging

The world of food has drastically changed thanks to the internet and the way it’s opened up conversations between people around the world.  More than ever, people are learning about food on a number of different levels.  This has had a massive impact on the effectiveness of how you  market a brand in the new economy landscape. So what can food brands learn from others?

Apple

When Apple moved to broaden from just the Mac into a product range of digital devices they focussed their marketing efforts into a brand personality centred around lifestyle, innovation and the aspirations, hopes and dreams of their audience.  Their products and their uses were positioned around what people wanted in their lives and how they could make their lives more simple.  It was driven on this lifestyle experience, not on what the products actually did.

It transformed Apple and its ongoing releases of products have now taken on an evolutionary process within a customer franchise that is brand aligned.

Lesson – It’s not about how great your food is, it’s about how it plays a part in the lifestyles of your customers and aligns to their values. Is your marketing focused on the interplay between necessity and lifestyle? Does it communicate values? Does it connect through an emotive interaction?

Food Bloggers

The growth of blogging, effectively what is known as self publishing or citizen journalism, has taken over the internet as one of the fastest growing types of social interaction.  In the world of Food, blogging has caught the imagination of many and some now undertake the task as their full time, new-economy employment.

The beauty of food is that is part of our everyday existence.  It acts as accessible content – we are close to it, we can photograph it, we can easily learn about it and we make more informed choices about it.

There are blogs about recipes and meal planners, food based causes such as Slow Food, anti-GMO campaigns and how to grow your own, where to eat when you travel and many, many more.

The digital realm has opened up an opportunity to bring people closer to their relationship with food and redefine it, not as just something that keeps us alive but as something to be celebrated, shared, experienced and felt.  This emotive direction has captured the imaginations of many who previously may not have felt strongly about their daily fare.  Just look at the success of Masterchef, lifestyle cooking shows and hardcopy recipe books.

Food bloggers have established their own significant space within the world of food, outside of the exclusive kitchens of top chefs and the providores of famous artisan labels.  Their success has been anchored in their approach; tapping into the lifestyles of people, presenting information they value and making it an enriching experience.

Take a look at websites such asCook Republic, Not without Salt, Grab Your Fork

See what food influencers are talking about and sharing on Twitter@frombecca @_sarahwilson_ @whatkatieate @atablefortwo

Lesson – It’s not just about shelf space and price, food needs to be shown in the context of the lives of your customers, what they value, what they want, what they can learn.

Publishing

Keeping in mind that food blogging is a form of publishing, it goes without saying that the approach to traditional food publishing food  has strengthened the mass-market’s desire for information.

Aesthetically the presentation of food as a subject has taken on a transformative value.  Beautifully presented dishes, with ease, in the correct lighting, with fresh, humanely killed meats and handcrafted miniature vegetables is the staple du jour.

Food is now the high opera of publishing.  The copy, the typography, the photography, the props and the techniques are all on show and working together to tantalize.  How does this sell product?  Again, it’s more about being part of the value system than just the product alone.  It means that as a food brand or retailer you need to be aligned with the customer’s orientation to their food values in order to ensure your supply chain remains fluid.

Yes, there will most likely always be a place for generic brands and low prices but as the education around food continues to rise, as obesity and issues created from bad food choices fall into the spotlight, there will continue to be a shift if not a massive tipping point.

Traditional publishing is pushing the food agenda into a direction where the expectations on food, the ethics around its growth and production, place of origin, and its ingredients and labelling all become a basis for whether or not its on the shopping list.

Food as a thing of beauty – Gourmet Traveller, Sumptous, Cuisine

Lesson – People are talking about food in a way like never before.  More people are more educated than ever and this is affecting their  purchase decisions. Brands need to align with the new norms around food and the expectations that come from this new and informed audience.

Instagram

The going joke nowadays is everyone takes a photo of their food prior to eating it and it goes onto one of many photographic social platforms.  This food revolution has meant that people are not only creating meals like the chefs but they want to show it to their friends and the world. It’s because they’re proud of it and probably want validation that they ‘did good’.  How do you do that? Style your meal, snap it for Instagram, put a filter over it so it looks arty and wait for the hordes to tell you they like it. It’s too easy.

Who in the world would ever have said that food would take this space in the photographic sharing realm of the web?  We all accepted that cats took over the internet years ago but who would have thought that the Friday night meal created by a 30 year old man for his new girlfriend would ever fall front and centre as a trend in food communication?

Just take  look at the #food hashtag on Instagram.  Everyone is a foodie nowadays. We are so far gone from the days of meat and three veg.

Lesson – People want to see food as the finished product.  It forms part of their daily ritual and now they are sharing that with others.  It’s now a creative pastime where people are striving to do better, make it more beautiful and then share it with others.  How is your brand part of this marketing opportunity?

Look at the food communication through visuals of these Instagammers @alexx_stuart @smoothdude @andrewscrivani @sweatandoranges

And a few more lessons overall from me, as a marketer and self confessed foodie

  • You can’t do food marketing like you used to – brand names in a recipe is so old economy and just looks like an advertisement. People are smarter than that.
  • Customer engagement, through real life, experiential interactions (prior to purchase and on the table), need to be coupled with an ongoing offering of information around the broad range of food conversations taking place on the world wide web.
  • Get your social strategy in order and get into the digital space deeply.  If you don’t you’ll be left behind.
  • Transparency is the key – people want to know about the production of your items and if you are open and upfront about something not so good lurking in the corner then they will eventually find out and tell everyone.
  • Talk about your product as part of the bigger picture – it’s not all about you and if you just an ingredient then you need to include other ingredients as your ‘friends’.  Big picture story telling is a must.
  • Learn how to undertake digital crisis communications now.  The word of mouth commentary around your product moves quicker than ever thanks to the connectivity of your consumers.  Your brand can die overnight if you’re not moving with your consumer ‘pack’.

You can find me on twitter @libbyfordham.

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