Food For Thought - RMD Blog

Three Ways Brands Can Build Credibility Among Consumers

Three Ways Brands Can Build Credibility Among Consumers

In the age of distraction, how can food brands grab consumer attention with content that amounts to more than click-bait? True, quality content that serves both a real need and solves a real problem is how leading brands continuously stay top-of-mind for shoppers. In turn, they are rewarded with loyalty, which is oftentimes the scarcest of commodities today.

In the end, consumers are looking for products that deliver on their promises … for taste, for nutritional benefits, for philanthropic efforts, for values. Food brands can make an impact by building relationships with their shoppers that capitalize on trust. To do so, finding ways to bring the people behind the brand to the forefront is a necessity. Not only can they help in telling the brand’s story, but they can tell the brand’s story in a more personal, more relevant way.

There are three areas in which co-marketed efforts can help make a true connection with today’s shoppers:

1. Target consumers where they shop.

By partnering with like-minded brands in a co-marketed capacity, whether on social media or in-store, each brand has the unique opportunity to make a larger impact market-by-market and regionally.

Where there is a need to encourage sales, smart brand alliances can intrigue shoppers enough to get them off of their couches and into the grocery store … and back again once their pantry shelves need replenished. Brands that play in different spaces within the industry but share similar values or attributes are in a position to play off of one another, encouraging their already-loyal consumers to expand their culinary horizons.

A lack of trust between shoppers and brands has driven both parties to change the way they interact with each other – shoppers with increasing distrust and brands with a greater push for transparency. If the partnership is finely tuned, consumers can feel well understood – and well cared for by the brands that now share the responsibility of serving their food needs.

2. Target consumers via content-driven strategies.     

Millennial consumers have grown up in an age where content (and exceptional content, at that) is the norm. Remembering your shoppers have a base standard for exceptional content can help keep your perspective aligned with theirs.

RMD Content

With insatiable appetites for content, brand partnerships can fill the gap where content might lag or conversation might tend to fall on deaf ears. Visually engaging photography (whether stunning or raw and real) and captivating copy that says something of value is more likely to capture their interest. As you navigate the co-marketing waters, consider the engaging content you can promote and use it to capitalize on messages that are most critical for both brands to share.

 3. Enlist campaigns and experiential opportunities that break through the clutter.

 Instinctively, food brand marketers strive to engage their shoppers where they’re at. At the point where a brand’s trajectory intersects with a consumer’s life, there is a prime opportunity to make a lasting impact.

According to research reported by Eventbrite, Millennials make up one-third of the U.S. population. This group, falling between the ages of 23-38, make up a huge percentage of event attendee bases. In fact, 75 percent of Millennials say they value experiences over things. Better yet, they are consistently putting their money where their mouths are. Nine out of ten Millennials have attended at least one live event within the past 12 months – significantly up from three years ago (82 percent).

For this reason, experiential opportunities at which brands can participate, join the energy of the event and spend meaningful time with their consumers are a prime strategy for those hoping to build a Love Brand.

RMD can help in creating meaningful relationships between your brand and today’s shoppers… In fact, it’s one of our (many) sweet spots. Let’s hone the power of influence together. Ready? We sure are.

How Strategic Alliances Help Refrigerated & Frozen Food Brands Grab Consumer Attention

How Strategic Alliances Help Refrigerated & Frozen Food Brands Grab Consumer Attention

Refrigerator and Frozen FoodsThe following excerpt is taken from Refrigerator and Frozen Foods magazine, written by Sue Reninger, Managing Partner of RMD Advertising

The landscape of the food industry and how brands and consumers interact has changed drastically. Consider how shoppers are making decisions. Who do they trust? Which marketing campaigns deliver maximum engagement from a distracted generation of shoppers?

Nearly 72% of consumers say they now only engage with marketing messages that are personalized and tailored to their interests, according to a report from SmarterHQ, Indianapolis, Ind. This desire for personalization is key for food brands determining how to move forward in capturing the attention of their shoppers. They want to know that the brands they are supporting in the checkout lane understand their wants and needs.  Sue Reninger, RMD Advertising

America’s savvy brands began targeting Millennials back in 2012. That would have put the upper Millennial at the ripe age of 15. Today, the Millennial consumers range from 23-38 years of age. Major lifestyle changes happen within those ages. At 16, female Millennials were preoccupied with lifestyle brands that supported their personal aspirational needs. Today, they have families of their own and focus on filling their family’s meal and snack appetites.

That lifestyle change also means today’s Millennial shopper is considering labels more. The Millennial shopper is buying for varying appetites and brand preferences. Mostly, however, it means they’re level of trust has changed. They trust their friends, family and co-workers more than ever.

The moral of the story—if you’re targeting Millennials the same way you were when your brand first started focusing on them, you may be speaking to an audience that has lost interest. This is where strategic alliances and partnerships can play a critical role within the food industry—when well-orchestrated, co-branded alliances can propel organic word of mouth and do an excellent job of promoting trial.

Read the three areas in which co-marketed efforts can help solve the mystery of trust and personalization on the national Refrigerated and Frozen Foods website.

How Strategic Alliances MOVE Today’s Female Millennial Shoppers

How Strategic Alliances MOVE Today’s Female Millennial Shoppers

The landscape of the food industry – and how brands and consumers interact – has changed drastically. Consider how shoppers are making decisions. Who do they trust? Which marketing campaigns deliver maximum engagement from a distracted generation of shoppers?

72 percentAccording to a new report from SmarterHQ, 72 percent of consumers say they now only engage with marketing messages that are personalized and tailored to their interests. This desire for personalization is key for food brands determining how to move forward in capturing the attention of their shoppers. They want to know that the brands they are supporting in the checkout lane understand their wants and needs.

Think about it…

America’s savvy brands began targeting Millennials back in 2012. That would have put the upper Millennial at the ripe age of 15. Today, the Millennial consumers range from 23-38 years of age. Major lifestyle changes happen within those ages. At 16, female Millennials were preoccupied with lifestyle brands that supported their personal aspirational needs. Today, they have families of their own and focus on filling their family’s meal and snack appetites.

marketing to millennial women

That lifestyle change also means today’s Millennial shopper is considering labels more. She is buying for varying appetites and brand preferences. Mostly, however, it means her level of trust has changed. She trusts her friends, her family and her coworkers more than everin short, her circle of influence.

The moral of the story: if you’re targeting Millennials the same way you were when your brand first started focusing on them, you may be speaking to an audience that has lost interest. This is where strategic alliances and partnerships can play a critical role within the food industry. When well-orchestrated, co-branded alliances can propel organic word of mouth and do an excellent job of promoting trial.

RMD can help with that… In fact, it’s one of our (many) sweet spots. Let’s hone the power of influence together. Ready? We sure are.

How Public Relations Must Change for Food in 2019

How Public Relations Must Change for Food in 2019

Undoubtedly, the way consumers interact with the food industry has changed. However, one constant remains a steadfast pillar: Public and media relations as strategically consistent, credible influences.

Especially where challenger food brands are concerned, the art of communication and building brand relationships between brand and consumer (as well as brand and media) still promotes both authenticity and authority. A one-two punch that, in turn, encourages increased thought leadership. However, while the core purpose of PR remains sound, the strategies many brands rely on continue to evolve. Between new technologies and tools to more efficient avenues of communication, it’s no surprise that this would be the case.  

At the heart of each challenger food brand’s PR engagement is the desire to blow through obscurity, and building credibility is step one. In fact, the key strategies designed to do just that can no longer be siloed, but rather, must be dynamically played off of one another. Full integration is mandatory in 2019, and now is the time to employ a fuller view of Paid Media, Earned Media, Shared Media and Owned Media.

At the risk of being trampled by competition, challenger food brands can stick to the status quo. But, in the face of industry change and consumers making demands for transparency across all fronts, the New Year must bring PR and media relations that influence both customers and consumers.

Here’s your ticket to making moves that impact your challenger food brand beyond media impressions. Let’s make moves that drives tangible sales:

Paid Media can effectively help to expand your reach and awareness in an ever-crowded space. Paid social, for instance, can necessarily cut through the clutter of a platform that continues to grow competitive. In what Hootsuite has called the “pay-to-play era” on social media, “marketers have increased their social ad budgets (up 32 percent in 2018 alone).”

However, to truly bring paid media opportunities to life, countering them with a strong Earned Media strategy is also key. Where paid media can amplify your message, earned media can bring even greater credibility to it. By partnering with an agency partner that can capture the brand’s voice effectively, there is much greater potential to build consumers trust and ultimately, consumer loyalty.

Meanwhile, Shared Media, encouraging brands to partner with like-minded organizations, is an awareness tactic that we know promotes the growth of all communities involved. Whether through a well-strategized cause campaign or through co-marketing across the social space, shared media presents the unique opportunity to capture a new audience at the start of the sales funnel and quickly carry them through to acquisition.

In providing valuable and relevant content to help fuel strong shared media opportunities, Owned Media is unmatched. Whether a blog post from the brand’s internal team, video, webinars or user-generated content, this is an opportunity for you to drive profound credibility. Working your curated content into a well-rounded strategy that makes the most of each piece will further help to fuel the brand’s success with unprecedented awareness. This is where obscurity can be busted through.

In a fully integrated strategy that relies on each avenue of PR, a brand can strike gold and gain coveted credibility, as well as thought leadership. And, thought leadership, in turn, continues to promote credibility. Using the power behind paid media, earned media, shared media and owned media means making the most of each strategy.

Next Steps

While change can be difficult (and daunting), relying on an agency that loves the challenger food categoryas much as your brand does means it doesn’t need to be. For an exceptional agency partner, changing the way we look at PR shouldn’t take a second thought. It’s all for the sake of the brand. And, just as it always has been, brand is still king.

A Little Bit of Culture in a Big Way

A Little Bit of Culture in a Big Way

This past March we celebrated our 26th anniversary by continuing to be the strongest and smartest agency in the Challenger Food category. Any RMDer will tell you: RMD is all about the culture. So, what makes this place one we all love coming to every day?RMD Teambuilding

RMD’s culture is like no other. While the formula for a perfect workplace may not exist, we think that by understanding that it is a collaborative effort and that it is something we consciously work to maintain every day, we’ve come pretty damn close.

Here’s a taste of what we think makes our agency great!

 1. Mojo Lunch. Hey, a team’s gotta eat, right? Mojo Lunch on Friday is a perk this hungry team never takes for granted!

2. Quarterly Outings. Team building makes the world or RMD go round! Two for family and friends and two for team only makes for happy people all around.

3. Plank Like You Need It. It might seem unnecessary, but the RMDers who plank every day know that all it takes to manage your state is a couple of abdominal building minutes!

4. #ThankfulThursday. Teambuilding makes RMD go round, but gratitude is at the heart of all we do, and Thankful Thursday reminds us of that.

5. Summer Fridays. It’s summer, it’s warm, it’s sunny and it’s time to enjoy a half day off to do whatever you want to do – except work.

6. Bang a Gong. A gong helps us to celebrate the big and small victories audibly throughout the day!

7. #AttitudeOfGratitude. An RMD-inspired way of celebrating the gifts (big and small) we each give to one another every day. #AOG to you for giving our blog post a read!

8. Soul Train. When we’re saying goodbye to a team member, our version of Soul Train sends ‘em out in a classic RMD manner.

9. Furry friends. They’re our official Directors of Stress Management, and they do a damn good job!

Dogs of RMD10. ProBest. Held every Friday, ProBest is our time to come together and become the high-quality professionals that help to make RMD special.

11. Mojo. It’s our time to reconnect and reflect on yet another outstanding week Think of it as a little teambuilding every Friday morning.

12. Virtual Showers. RMD throws one heck of a shower. Wedding and baby showers are our specialties!

13. Community Work. Because we’re all like-minded individuals, work like that we do with Wagons Ho Ho Ho is something we have a great deal of pride.

14. Food Holidays. National Ice Cream Day isn’t just a fun food holiday to share across social media; it’s also an excuse to indulge in our favorite ice cream brand: Graeter’s Ice CreamSurprise and delight at RMD

15. Sprints. Revolutionizing the way we hold meetings, you have to experience a sprint to see how much more productive they make us!

16. Book Club. In our commitment to excellence, we love meeting every Wednesday morning to share our thoughts on that month’s industry-related book. Check out a few books worth reading.

17. HipChatting. We just use this internal communication tool as our agency-wide message board to celebrate victories, share ideas and feel connected. Sound off!

6 Ways to Improve Your Sense of a Sensible Team

6 Ways to Improve Your Sense of a Sensible Team

Teamwork and relationships within a team can be very elusive. Well done, a strong sense of team seems effortless, but rest assured, it never is. At RMD, we constantly work to balance the need for conflict to bust through complacency in a hurry … with the need to build bridges within our teams that forge strong relationships. We have found these six tips to help along the way:

1. Take the initiative. Go to the other person first.

2. Sympathize with their feelings. Listen before talking. Focus on their feelings.

3. Confess your part of the conflict.

4. Attack the problem, not the person.

5. Cooperate as much as possible.

6. Emphasize reconciliation, not resolution.

Do Certifications Matter in the Restaurant/Food Service Category?

Do Certifications Matter in the Restaurant/Food Service Category?

Entrepreneurial Chef Magazine authored article by Sue Reninger

By Sue Reninger, Managing Partner and Client Brand Strategist

The food industry is independently unique, and today, consumers are more educated and thinking more critically than ever. In fact, many have begun asking whether the industry and the restaurants it encapsulates are doing their part to maintain the integrity guests so desperately desire.

Are we doing our part to lead guests to better, more healthful and more sustainable choices? Are we offering guests the food from our menus because we truly believe in its inherent good?

To best serve restaurant guests, today’s chefs and their menus need to reflect the restaurant as a brand, but also its mission and values, overall. For many, that means turning to the power of third-party certifications. Top certifications in the food world include, but are not limited to, a handful of the select elite:

USDA Organic: This relevant certification regulates the standards for any farm, wild crop harvesting, or handling operation that wants to sell an agricultural product as organically produced.

Why this certification is important: A 2016 poll from the Pew Research Center found that 55 percent of Americans believe that organic food is healthier than conventional. This is particularly true of organically grown fruits and vegetables. The market reached $43 billion in 2016, and a 2017 survey found that 82 percent of American homes stock organic food.

In considering certified organic ingredients versus foods simply labeled as ‘organic’, consider the fact that a certification requires that farmers and handlers document their processes and get inspected every year. This ultimately allows you to make an educated and informed choice for your restaurant.

Non-GMO Project Verified: The Non-GMO Project is an independent verifier of products made according to best practices for avoiding genetically modified organisms in the U.S. and Canada.

Why this certification is important: A non-GMO market insight report released by Mintel in February 2017 states 34 percent of Baby Boomers and 29 percent of Millennials surveyed avoid genetically modified foods in their diet, which supports the fact that this mindset spans generations. Research demonstrates today’s restaurant guests are actively seeking out non-GMO foods, and the ingredients on your menu can mirror their concern.

 Certified Gluten-Free: The Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO)is dedicated to providing certification services to producers of gluten-free products using quality assessment and control measures throughout production, in order to provide consumer assurance of the safety of their foods.

Why this certification is important: With rigorous standards ensuring no cross contamination, a Gluten-Free Certification oftentimes means you can cater to a still growing community of foodies. For guests not participating in an exclusively gluten-free diet, your commitment will help them perceive your restaurant as one that is both tolerant of these special dietary needs and inclusive of their friends and family who rely on a gluten-free diet.

 Certified Humane: Administered by independent nonprofit Humane Farm Animal Care, this program ensures that animals raised for dairy, lamb, poultry or beef products are treated humanely and with their welfare in mind.

Why this certification is important: Packaged Facts survey data from February through March 2017 show that 58 percent of U.S. consumers are more concerned about animal welfare than they were just a few years ago. This certification shows them you are listening, and even more, doing your part to support a sustainable food system.

Certified Vegan: Products Certified Vegan speak most prominently to a population of food lovers interested in vegan products. The certification ultimately aims to help vegans shop and eat with confidence. It also helps companies and restaurants recognize a growing vegan market and brings the word Vegan—and the lifestyle it represents—into the mainstream.

Why this certification is important: While your restaurant does not need a certification to wear a vegan label, ensuring the ingredients you use on your menu have integrity behind them is important to restaurant-goers. Show them you align with their values and respect their need for complete transparency.

Above all, the certifications and conversations surrounding food should demonstrate to restaurant leaders the way guests view nutritional information is vastly different from what it once was, and what it will be in the years to come.

In reflecting upon whether your menu should showcase the trends and certifications that have frequently spotted the food industry, consider the restaurant’s authenticity through the guest’s eyes. If your menu no longer speaks to your core guest or aligns with their values, it won’t be long before your brand lags behind your competitive counterparts.

Today, third-party certifications can help affirm your restaurant’s commitment to transparency and authenticity. Furthermore, third-party certifiers can act as strong partners in bringing a menu and dining experience that match what you envision for your brand to reality. For brands especially focused on the up and coming generations of restaurant goers, certifications can help shape your image, convey the values your company stands for and, as a result, build loyalty.

This outward reflection of your restaurant’s internally stated morals is one avenue by which you can show shoppers you are committed to their wellbeing, while still boasting an impressive menu.

 

Natural Products Expo West … Fits Us Naturally.

Natural Products Expo West … Fits Us Naturally.

RMD attends Expo WestNatural Products Expo West is arguably the biggest, the most interesting and the most exhausting food trade show of the year. Food brands of all types come from across the country and the globe to introduce their foods and new product development, share their ideals and gain new distribution and fans. In short, everyone is after the almighty and powerful retailer relationships … and consumer dollar.

So, what were the trends that Team RMD spotted at Expo West last week? Here’s a summation, along with some of our favorite finds:

Bars and Balls: From protein-enriched to caffeine-enhanced, meat and grain bars and nutrition balls are making their way into all meal categories — and aren’t just for snacking anymore. Our favorite: The Better Than Coffee bar at 100 calories and just 3g of sugar, it truly tastes like a caffeine kick (and agency people are known for their love of coffee). We also love the relaunched MetaBall, which has introduced a whole new array of flavors (and new packaging!), including our favorite – Berry Cobbler Crunch.

Pork Rinds: Grandpa’s snack has made its way to mainstream America with reinventions of this old favorite. Our favorite, of course, is Southern Recipe Small Batch’s rinds. Newly introduced at the show? The oven baked rinds, touting less fat and a powerful bacon flavor. The traditional line of Southern Recipe Small Batch rinds is equally delicious. We suggest the Spicy Dill. This flavor combination insists that your taste buds take notice.

Grab ‘N Go Everything! There’s protein-enhanced, grab ‘n go foods in nearly EVERY category. Clearly, we’ve gotten the message that protein = good and we’re all on the run. For a flavor sensation that’ll make you turn that car around and want more, give Lilly’s Hummus a taste. It’s hummus made with clean, simple ingredients… and obviously, lots of heart.

Grain Free/Alternative Grains/Gluten Free: The Gluten Free community is in for a TREAT if Expo West is any indication of what’s going to be found in grocery aisles and on Amazon in the coming months. Outrageously delicious, this category has come a long, long, long way. Our must-try favorites: Soozy’s Muffins, Brekki Overnight Oats, The Toasted Oat and Oggi Pizza. OMG, delicious!

Convenience: Everything that’s entering the market is in some way trying to solve our biggest challenges … we’re time-starved and still, want delicious food when we sit down at the table. Food brands have gotten this message. For the best products in this category (that we LOVE), try Saffron Road entrees (like, wow!) and Medlee Food’s new line of flavor-infused butters.

Cut Through The Clutter And Attract Your Tribe

Cut Through The Clutter And Attract Your Tribe

RMD_Social_Strategy  The food industry is a competitive one, with restaurants dawning trendy personas, while food brands are introducing new must-have products that entice consumers to buy as soon as they hit the selves.

For marketers, this means battling a crowded field where the average restaurant guest or food consumer no longer respond to overt messages to “buy now!”   Read the rest of this compelling Entrepreneurial Chef magazine article written by our very own Managing Partner of Strategy, Sue Reninger.

5 Key Food Crisis Tactics to Gain the Upper Hand

5 Key Food Crisis Tactics to Gain the Upper Hand

Food DiveAt a time when consumer awareness has peaked and transparency remains critical, the food industry has worked to reestablish the role and definition of food safety. Included in the cost of doing business today is a food safety communications plan that ultimately rises above industry standards. Companies must not only employ a strategically sound plan for crisis management but also whip-smart crisis communication and protocol.

Read more about Sue Reninger’s article as it was published in FoodDive

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