Food ingredient suppliers are gathering this week in Las Vegas for the annual SupplySide West trade show.
And food and beverage marketing teams will be paying attention.
That’s because, in recent years, marketers have realized they can win with food ingredients – if they do it right. Keys include science-based credibility, great taste and mainstream-type products. It’s not easy, but there are wonderful opportunities. Consumers care about what they put in their bodies, more so than ever. They are proactive about what they want to eat and don’t want to eat.
As someone who has worked on the both the ingredient marketing and consumer brand management side of the desk, it’s been interesting to monitor how suppliers and marketers are increasingly coming together.
In particular, new studies from Nielsen and IFIC (International Food Information Council Foundation) offer opportunity ideas for marketing and technical teams to explore and leverage.
First, and this has been the case for many years, regardless of concept and benefit, the product must taste good, or else, forget about it.
In IFIC’s 2016 annual survey, consumers were asked how much taste, versus other drivers, impacted their decision to buy foods and beverages.
The no-surprise result was that nearly nine out of ten responded taste, substantially higher than other key benefit areas: 84% taste, 71% price, 64% healthfulness, 52% convenience, and 41% sustainability.
One continuing opportunity area is better-for-you food and beverage concepts. This includes both reformulations and new products.
Nielsen suggests that better-for-you may even approach the idea of “food as medicine:”
“Consumers are taking a more active role in their health care, which includes following proper nutrition guidelines to prevent or manage many health issues. (What’s In Our Food and On Our Mind – Ingredient and Dining-Out Trends Around the World – August 2016)
The ability to rapidly explore quality information is fueling action from what Nielsen describes as “educated and connected consumers.” The Nielsen study authors note that “technology gives consumers access to a wealth of health information and products they can use to exercise greater control over their health.”
As shows such as SupplySide and IFT demonstrate, there are excellent collaboration opportunities between food ingredient suppliers and marketing teams.
Savvy B2B suppliers are engaging key marketing decision-makers in addition to R&D and purchasing. At the same time, food and beverage manufacturers understand that smart ingredient suppliers have more to offer than just transactional order-filling.
“Consumers want to eat more healthfully, but they can’t do it alone. They need help from food manufacturers to offer products that are formulated with good-for-you ingredients. They need help from retailers to stock shelves with right-priced healthful assortment. And they need help from the medical community to provide proper guidance on what and how much to eat in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle.” (Andrew Mandzy, Director of Strategic Health and Wellness Insights, Nielsen)
As important as it is to eat as healthy as possible, there will always be opportunities for smart indulgence. That’s good news for all the marketers of treats, sweets and all things desserts.
“While many consumers are taking steps to opt for better-for-you food choices, they still want to treat themselves,” said Nielsen’s Mandzy. “Increasingly, however, they’re indulging smarter, particularly when it comes to the treats they’re consuming on a regular basis. Manufacturers that innovate by incorporating ingredients and preparation methods that improve the nutritional profile of their product portfolio will be strongly positioned to succeed.”
Marketers, leverage the ingredient building blocks at your disposal. Ingredient suppliers, be sure your game is sharp enough to engage your customers cross-functionally.
Harvey Chimoff is a versatile marketing and business team leader who believes good marketing sells. Contact him at StratGo Marketing, a “nuts and bolts” strategic marketing resource.