Bringing people together through a product can be difficult. While some things do this more successfully, such as the iPhone or Levis, few are as universal as food. Today we’re exploring the ways people craft stories around food that resonate and the industries that have carved new routines and rhythms in our lives.

Ultimately, the way food and beverage is marketed is often packaged wrong. People who do it well understand that food and drink is really about the experience and connection that it fosters, as well as the connection the consumer has with your product and company. Cooking dinner with your family, going out for drinks with your future spouse, grabbing breakfast with your best friend, these are the things that we associate food with.

Whether it’s grabbing a convenient can of rosé for a picnic or the nostalgia of Trader Joe’s Joe Joe’s, we all have food associations and preferences that in some ways define who we are. Food brands must strive to deliver these experiences, give incentives for individuals having them, and deliver on the value of the products.

Have a unique message, not a unique product.

While coffee, chocolate, and beer are inherently interesting to a consumer, it’s important to have a unique message and way of bringing the product to your customer. Since there are so many options, differentiators matter.

For instance, Daily Harvest provides quick and easy smoothie kits with original flavor combinations shipped to your door. Stumptown Coffee has a unique niche of being both from a city that’s known for coffee and an innovator in the industry. Union Wine Company makes delicious canned wines that bring the convenience of beer to the wine industry in a new way. While the product itself may not be so different, the method of delivery and use case is exemplary.

Make it impossible not to talk about.

Getting the earned social credit from your product is essential for it catching on. If you’re providing a great product with a unique hook, you can ensure that people will want to tell people about it. Incentives for sharing on social media, hashtags on products, and making it clear that you engage with those who are invested in your product is a great way to encourage a community to form.

Don’t be afraid to get outrageous… but don’t forget who you are.  

In our current food landscape, food can be out there. From fried chicken and waffle cones to unicorn frappuccinos to elaborate juice cleanses, things are getting a little weird out there. While we don’t suggest making your bread and butter outlandish, getting a little quirky in part of your line can be a way for your business to get a little attention. However, as Chili’s and other legacy brands have seen, it isn’t enough to revive sales. Being a smaller, nimbler brand is an advantage in this market. After all, two-thirds of the top CPG brands saw sales decline in 2015 and the top 5 lost $13 billion in sales.

Design matters.

Whether it’s the product, storefront or the packaging, having an aesthetically appealing exterior makes a difference. In fact, 52% of shoppers admit they won’t return to an online shop because of the design. That’s just the people who are willing to admit it. Tying the product or brand story, the design and its value altogether in one place requires strategy and attention but is incredibly powerful when done right. Check out our examples of food brands doing it right on the packaging and look front.

Make it sustainable.

From production to packaging, making your business green is a big seller. It doesn’t hurt with those who don’t care and can be the decision maker for those who are shopping between options. Creating brand loyalty with a young generation of consumers is crucial for growth, and this group cares about eco-friendly products.

Think it’s a minority who are interested in green products and sustainable practices? Over 72% of younger consumers (Millennials and Gen Z) are willing to pay more for products from companies focused on positive social and environmental impact. Get actionable strategies for getting more sustainable here.

No matter where you’re at in your specialty food business, great digital marketing is key. Focus on your brand, your story, and a transparent relationship with your customers to get things going. When you’re ready for a boost, reach out to us at Mad Fish Digital and we’ll help take things to the next level. Cheers!