As marketers, it can sometimes be challenging to step away from the research-based features and benefits of the products we promote and scan the aisles from the perspective of an everyday consumer. Sure, we’re fluent in brand speak and industry lingo practically oozes from our pores – but do we really understand what races through shoppers’ minds in the crucial seconds before they either place that package in their cart or leave it sitting prettily on the shelf? Well… behold the power of immersion!
A recent “Lunch and Learn” field trip for staff to the grocery store – led by Porter Novelli’s very own Ilene Smith, MS, RD. and an EVP in our Food & Nutrition practice – proved to be quite enlightening for our insight-hungry group. Each of us had a different point of view on the most important supermarket watch-outs. Our concerns ran the gamut from sodium content to portion size to natural ingredients. We considered new perspectives on nutrition and accounted for dietary restrictions of which we’d previously had limited awareness. Perhaps most eye-opening: We saw the supermarket for the chaotic and overwhelming place it can be for consumers who are filled with questions, skepticism and fear.
Why the gloom and doom? “Trends” rose to the top of the list for our pseudo-focus group. One day all the buzz is about trans fats, then it shifts to organic, then to net carbs and so on. We should be stocking up on raspberries – or is it açaí berries? Wait, whatever happened to blueberries? From packaging to advertisements to in-store displays, mixed messages dominate.
So, as marketers, rather than plunging head first into the biggest hottest trend perhaps we can tread carefully instead. Certainly it would be a miss to reject of-the-moment so-called superfoods and fad diets entirely, but we can go beyond simply riding the coattails of trends and provide a service to consumers. We must listen to their questions and concerns, establish a dialogue, educate and earn their trust. After all, trends are famous for coming and going.
Now it wouldn’t be fair to speak of this immersion experience without sharing a grocery store tip from our resident registered dietitian. So here it is: Be a perimeter shopper. Give yourself time to make that full lap around the supermarket so you can load up on healthy products like produce, dairy and protein. Then supplement with the most nutritious finds from the center aisles. That’s no trend – that’s a healthy lifestyle.