I was invited to attend a Jeffersonian Dinner in California’s Napa Valley a few weeks ago to discuss the topic of food; diving into what is our food future and how can we make good food available, affordable and accessible to all. For those who don’t know Jeffersonian Dinners, they aim to bring together a diverse group of individuals who are looking to make transformative connections and engage in energetic debates around a shared topic. Thomas Jefferson wouldn’t have it any other way.
This lively discussion had 12 attendees, including an independent all-natural CPG food brand, a few innovative and inspiring start-up companies in the food space, a celebrity chef from the Food Network, a U.S. Congressman and an author. As we debated and discussed how we can each help solve the food problem in this country, we also discussed the brands that are “doing it right” and bringing good, healthy foods to the homes in America. This dinner gave me the idea to look into some of these organic food brands, to see what makes them tick and to learn how they are engaging consumers. Most of all, to explore what the non-organic brands learn.
According to Food Safety News, the organic food industry has seen a 3,400% increase in the past 24 years, making organic the fastest-growing consumer food and lifestyle trend in modern history. No wonder people are talking. These brands are dominating the conversation and the trend makes it easier to cut through the clutter and gain attention from consumers.
The question becomes, are organic brands able to connect with consumers just because they are healthier? The answer is no. Being healthier is not enough to create a food movement and a trend that is making history. So what is it?
Consumers Want Transparency
According to the Organic Marketing Report, consumers want to know how their food is produced and where their food is coming from. Organic food brands deliver on this. All brands, not just organics, have the ability to connect with their customers in a more meaningful way via story telling. However, organic brands seem to be doing it better and more often than non-organics.
For example, Plum Organic’s founder, Neil Grimmer, was just a busy working dad trying to serve his two daughters wholesome, high-quality food when he launched his company. Neil understood that this is something every parent can relate to. By sharing his story, Neil was able to create a business that generated $93 million in sales in 2012 and was predicted to reach $100 million in 2014. The company is also currently ranked as the #1 organic baby food brand in the U.S.
Don’t Be Afraid to Share Your Brand’s Mission
We know people want to believe in the brands they consume. According to The Psychology of Sharing Study conducted by Brian Brett from the New York Times, one of the biggest reasons consumers will share about a brand is to give people a better sense of who they are and what they care about. Organic brands do a great job of sharing their mission or cause and, therefore, consumers want to share this with their friends and social networks. All brands can work harder to share their mission or core values, giving consumers a reason to get behind the cause and advocate for the brand.
Check out Kashi’s website and click on “What We Believe.” Their beliefs are inspirational and motivational. Their mission of “making foods with simple wholesome ingredients – and everything we believe” makes you want to step away from your laptop, shut off your iPhone and go on a hike with the family. Organic brands don’t have to be the only brands with an inspirational message. That feeling of connection and meaning are the core ingredients to connecting with your consumers and creating advocacy.
Its’ true that I now look at what I serve my family very differently because of the Jeffersonian Dinner, but I also pay attention to how hard organic food brands work to connect with consumers through transparency, story telling and inspiration. At the end of the day, it is those connections that will drive sales, as it has done for the $35 billion organic food industry.