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?
According 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.
That lifestyle change also means today’s Millennial shopper is considering labels more. She is buying for varying appetites andbrand preferences. Mostly, however, it means her level of trust has changed. She trusts her friends, her family and her coworkers more than ever – in 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.
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 Mediastrategy 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.
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.
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’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!
10. 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.
Do Certifications Matter in the Restaurant/Food Service Category?
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 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.
We couldn’t resist. With October comes the ghostly opportunity to shine a new light on some frightening food marketing stats. Can these help you to build out a skeleton of a plan for a stronger, better 2018?
You be the judge. But the truth remains: not all food marketing is the same. If your Challenger Food Brand plans to make a bigger splash next year, consider these three powerful thoughts:
Challenger food brands can’t ignore Millennials, for sure. According to Statista 2017, nearly 80 percent of them regularly purchase specialty food brands. But the markets you’re ignoring could be killing your profits.
Gen X consumers (ages 40-51 years old) and Baby Boomers (ages 52-70) also line up for your brand. In fact, more than 60 percent and 40 percent, respectively, actively purchase and seek out specialty foods.
Frightening Fact #2: It’s not a fad. You’re discounting the growing gluten-free category.
Though the buzz has quieted, it’s interesting to know that the gluten-free marketplace is actually growing. According to Statista, consumers choosing to go gluten free are actually climbing at a steep rate. In fact, 72 percent of the market for gluten-free consists of consumers who choose the lifestyle as a way of life (up from 56 percent in the previous two-year period.)
Frightening Fact #3: Brick n’ Mortars are battling online shopping.
According to a Bricks Meets Clicks study, Americans who shop for groceries online once per month do an average of 17 percent of their total grocery spending online. That leaves a LOT of room in the budget for traditional grocery brands. This compares to 21% for those who shop twice online.
RMD is all about the good mojo and a culture centered on taking care of our clients and taking care of our team. We talk a lot about our clients, but what about the culture dynamic among our team members makes RMD so special?
One thing we do at RMD that sets us apart from the rest, is we believe fully in changing your state. Any time we feel the energy is at a lull, we pick ourselves up and initiate a dance party or a plank. When we call for a plank, the whole team gets up and heads to the center of the office where we get on our elbows and count to 60. Why? Tony Robbins talks about the importance of maintaining your state here.
In order to keep our team members on their toes, we’ve been known to pull a prank or two. As a food agency, we always have food handy. So whether we’re hiding jelly beans in the Digital team’s desk, or wrapping a team member’s desk like a Christmas present for Secret Santa, you’ll be sure to hear some laughter throughout the building.
Our office culture allows for RMDers to get moving, get into a positive headspace and conquer stress with laughter. If this sounds like you, you may have what it takes to be an RMDer.
When you’ve been around for more than 23 years, you develop a lot of traditions. Some strange. Some a bit quirky. But all definitely creative. And halloween is the perfect time to showcase our agency’s creative side while giving a nod to the industry we serve … food brands. It’s also a wonderful time to honor a few of our client brands as well. Happy halloween and remember, the only thing scary about this day? When food brands don’t work with RMD.
Donn’s passion for food began while growing up in the culturally diverse city of Detroit. Experiencing the wonderful flavors of the city taught him that there’s more to life than the same old same old. Today, Donn takes that same approach with the creative direction of the agency.
As I scrolled through my social media feeds, this quote caught my eye. Not because of its inspirational undertones, but because it reflects my experience as an RMD SPC. The mentality here isn’t just to work hard but to work right; the mentality here is if you can take in the right direction, take it.
But what is an SPC?
SPC stands for “Special Projects Coordinator,” which is essentially RMD Advertising’s internship program. I like that my title isn’t “intern” because that word suggests brevity, expendability, and immaturity, and as a recent college graduate, I want to be taken seriously, prove my worth, and make an impact. In comparison to my previous internship experiences, my time as an RMD SPC falls much closer to the professional side of the spectrum.
With a proper title come proper responsibilities. The weight of knowing my work impacts that of my team is both fulfilling and fueling because I know my time and effort is worthwhile and perpetual. Don’t get me wrong, this fulfillment is an earned feeling – it’s definitely a learning process in its own right.
As a student, I thought my biggest professional challenges would involve tasks like writing press releases in short amounts of time, negotiating with clients, or giving flawless presentations.
My biggest challenges in reality were time management, organization, and prioritizing. Now, I’m not a disorganized person and I work relatively quickly, especially with a journalism background. However, the RMD work grind is very rapid, therefore the level of meticulousness is also very high. During my first few weeks, I felt like I was drowning because I didn’t have a full comprehension of how much work I could handle or how quickly I could work.
In due time, I learned the key is communicating with my peers and someone will always extend a hand to help ease the path. I learned that everyone is very willing to provide support because the culture here is a collective one – rather than “I am successful” it’s “We are successful.”
The satisfaction of seeing (and experiencing) the ripple effect of the PR Team, Creative Team, or Social Team output out is inexplicable – it’s almost like a literal push of RMD’s energy into the rest of society.
When I go grocery shopping, I can proudly pick up a product and say “Hey! The agency I work with represents this brand!” When I drive by a restaurant, I can happily point and exclaim, “Look! That’s one of clients we work with!”
So here, at this agency, we take a step if there is a step, and that is probably the crux to our growth and reputation.
Each week, RMD Advertising honors a team member that has gone beyond the ‘call of duty’ – whether that’s uncovering a solution to a stubborn client service issue, a charitable act or simply a nice gesture toward another team member. This prestigious award is called the Mojo Award and it’s given during our Friday morning team meeting.
The big prize? The all powerful cup of coffee. I know what you may be thinking, a Starbucks card is no big deal. But it’s not just the hot cup of java that we’re giving … it’s the public attitude of gratitude for a being a great member of our team. This is something RMD is proud to be built upon.
And to that we say, that cup of coffee smells a lot like success. Congratulations Amanda for digging into SEO at yet ANOTHER level, asking critical questions and leading us to think in a whole new direction. You’re our Week 3 winner!
Donn Ditzhazy, Executive Director