Foodmix Marketing Communications roots go back 30-plus years to the first firm I started and ultimately merged into a bigger entity. Our mission in the early days was simple: Get our clients’ brands within “arm’s reach” of consumers wherever, and whenever, they decided to satiate their appetites or quench their thirsts. Quite a mouthful, I realize, but our core strategy was B2B. America was shifting its food-buying habits in those days – food away from home was emerging and subsequently exploding. As a small firm, winning the big B2C food marketing accounts wasn’t our focus; but we did help big food companies figure out how to win outside of the center isle of the grocery store – perimeter, foodservice, club, convenience, college, entertainment, etc. Our story was unique. The food-away-from-home business was booming, and life was good.
Fast-forward 20 years, and most food companies had at least figured out “alternative channels,” with many participating in multi-channel go-to-market approaches. As we entered the new millennium, the revolution in food was less about where Americans got their food and more about how eating habits were rapidly changing. Big brands began to struggle because the consumer was shifting faster than they could keep up with. Challenger brands began to win. Foodmix introduced the construct of Brand Love and conducted a series of studies to understand these changing consumer habits. (Note: new Perimeter of the Store and Produce Studies by Foodmix coming soon!)
What we learned was that the state of branding in food and beverage was shifting. Brands that had adapted their marketing efforts by connecting with consumer needs, lifestyles and values were not only preferred, but were Loved! Consumers felt so strongly about these brands, they became active advocates. It is the Holy Grail of branding – when the consumer tells the story for you – and a marketer’s dream! The focus at Foodmix pivoted to creating Brand Love for our clients. We amplified our B2C credentials and used those same lessons and principles to create brand advocacy for our B2B clients.
Then came the pandemic, and lo and behold, consumer purchasing habits shifted – as did many of their eating habits. We all know the changes: online, home delivery, return to baking and a host of other shifts. Do these represent permanent shifts or temporary ones? Only time will tell.
Where we wind up is not clear, but what is clear is that an exclusive focus on B2B or B2C is not going to keep pace with the competition or the consumer. For food brands, it is no longer a question of staying within “arm’s reach” or creating Brand Love with the consumer – it is both! Food and beverage marketers will create Brand Love by connecting with consumers’ lives – wherever and whenever they choose to enjoy your food and beverage brands.