At a time when social media are now part of our everyday lives and when consumers demand not only transparency and quality but also a greater commitment to the future of our society, communication has indeed undergone a revolution. We have shifted from a very traditional “one-way” type of communication, where brands spoke to consumers, to a balanced dialog between stakeholders. The media ecosystem has been completely upended by the central role of social media platforms where new topics, new controversies and new influencers are ceaselessly emerging.
The food sector has not escaped this trend. Quite the contrary, in fact. Faced with the food crises of the past 15 years and due to the special emotional bond that consumers have with food (above all, as a means to meet a basic need, eating), it was amongst the first sectors to have had to adapt to consumer activists.
Indeed, thanks to social media, we can get information quickly and easily at any time of day. Today’s consumers seek information and learn about products before making their choice. Brands can no longer settle for a general public communication campaign: they must create a dialogue and share something with their target consumers and, above all, “speak the truth”.
Food brands and companies have understood this – every single opportunity to communicate must be taken with a special focus on quality and transparency. For instance, Fleury Michon invites consumers to come into their production facilities to see how their products are made. And people love it!
We have moved into the era of horizontal communication, where the name of the game is sparking and maintaining a constant dialogue with your target audience in a world flooded with information and, what’s more, building it together!
Look at the recent rise of brands like C’est Qui le Patron?! (‘Who’s the Boss?!’), which has managed to sell over 50 million litres of milk without any massive advertising campaigns or sales force! Here, advertising costs are replaced by social media communication that helps bring down prices significantly – the brand’s reason for being. The idea in itself is great, yet it is the strength of the community that drives the success of this brand, based on its social value. Not content with shaking up the more conventional style of communication by reaching out directly to consumers from the very start in order to find out what kinds of products they want and thus giving them an active role, C’est Qui le Patron?! has also broken with brands’ standard communication plans.
The digitalisation of communication tools and channels thus represents a great opportunity to be even more creative and ramp up the number of opportunities to communicate. In this participatory era when socially active, Web-savvy citizens are turning into influencers, the challenge remains finding a way to stand out! In my view, it is essential to be able to bring consumers an impactful experience with the brand or the company. This of course requires powerful storytelling and a high-quality brand message. But you also have to know how to pinpoint leading influencers. At Sopexa, we have built special relationships with key opinion leaders – KOLs as we call them – all over the world, in order to help our clients with their international communication. In China, for example, some foodies have become fully-fledged stars, followed by millions of fans! However, the brand experience does not stop with social media and is being developed through an essential multi-channel approach in order to leverage all of the brand’s or product’s potential touchpoints with consumers. In an age when we are swamped with information, with every person seeing around 3,000 ads a day, it is not about communicating more, it is about communicating better. At Sopexa, this is what we strive to do every day!
Thanks to the partnerships that certain students set up with distributors, some even see their projects take concrete shape once the competition is over.
This competition is necessary because it is essential to support innovation within this new generation of youths, who are future entrepreneurs in the French and European FoodTech industry!