Tap into Trends to Better Communicate with Customers

Tap into trends to better communicate with consumers.

By Diane Toops, News & Trends Editor

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Some of the trends predicted in Ketchum’s “Health, Wellness and Nutrition Global Trends Forecast for 2008 and Beyond” include:

Standardized global labeling guidelines emerge

Global food safety and health concerns are driving standardized labeling guidelines. Expect country-of-origin labels (COOL) on all foods and for each ingredient in processed food. Company-developed labeling symbols and signposts are gaining momentum. Controversy will continue over the best format for communicating nutrition information on packaging, especially throughout the EU and North America. Legislation is not far behind. As organic interests/demand rises, expect international certifications to emerge, which in some countries will be more rigid than current guidelines.

Marketing to children under attack

Activists and regulators are working overtime to devise restrictions on advertising and marketing practices. What is allowable by law is not to be misconstrued as “acceptable” marketing practice. Licensed characters, cartoons and kid-friendly personalities are on the radar. Self-regulation must promise an authentic solution to avoid regulation.

Mom takes control

The rise of Alpha-Moms, highly educated, working women with a strong sense of activism, has ignited debate and, in some cases, regulation with respect to foods made primarily for children. These moms aggressively blog, research, form committees and sit on boards to ensure their wishes are heard. Advertising is viewed with skepticism and must be strongly reinforced by multiple, third-party influencers to be viewed as credible.

Caregivers diversify

As more women reach their mature years healthier and more active than their parents, a new generation of caregivers emerges. Grandparents are helping to raise their grandchildren in record numbers, so their shopping decisions are becoming more important. And as more women enter and remain in the workplace, more men opt into the primary caretaker role for their children. While women continue to shop and prepare most of the food, men are more involved in what their children eat.

Influencers go local

While women pay attention to celebrities, stars and personalities’ shopping choices, they are more likely to be influenced in their purchase decisions by those closest to them … neighbors, friends, relatives, retailers and fitness trainers.

Multi-minding and multi-tasking

Bombarded with information and more time-stressed than ever, today’s woman is no longer multi-tasking. She is multi-minding … literally carrying multiple agendas, conversations and thoughts in her head at all times while multi-tasking. The messages to her must be bite-sized, repeatable and discoverable in multiple settings to be heard, remembered and acted upon.

Health claim changes may lead to healthy confusion

In Europe, there is a reassessment of food additives (E numbers), which will lead to communication challenges, especially about natural ingredients. New health claim regulations may make the approval of new claims challenging. And functional foods are being defined. While some Asian countries, such as Japan, have well-defined rules for functional foods, other Asian countries are in the very early stages of regulatory oversight for food and beverages in this category. Effectiveness of U.S. health claim regulations is being questioned.

Border wars rise

In Asia, the lack of region-wide regulations make cross-border marketing a challenge. Cultural health beliefs add a layer of complexity to marketing (hot/cold food; yin/yang). Food safety standards vary country to country. With the rise in anti-China sentiments around the world, more scrutiny will be placed on ingredient sourcing and resting region to region and country to country … each different. U.S. imports may be perceived as safer and more nutritious but more costly.

Consumers tracking carbon footprint and food miles

As concerns of global warming rise and commitments to reverse the tide take hold, expect several countries to call for declaration of a product’s carbon footprint on the label. A carbon footprint is the total amount of CO2 and other greenhouse gases emitted over the full life cycle of a product or service. Heightened desires to reduce carbon fuel emissions are driving consumers to demand the “food miles” a product and all its ingredients have traveled. Food miles is a term which refers to the distance food travels from the time of its production until it reaches the consumer. The less local, the less desirable … a serious implication for foods produced out of country, out of region. Many retailers are leaping ahead of regulation and requiring these declarations now.

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