A popular phrase goes, ‘we are what we eat’. As we unlock after multiple phases of lockdown that has helped to control the COVID pandemic, it would be prudent to expand it to ‘we are what we eat, and we eat what we trust!’
As businesses adapt to the new normal, the need for the trusted brands to win the consumer’s heart and mind has only heightened in. Businesses that span the length of the food value chain from farm-to-fork have built consumer trust over time. Now, during times of uncertainty, the trust reposed by consumers becomes a competitive advantage. This is a trust that comes from a relationship based on credibility, reliability, and a feeling of knowing, of being intimate with the brand.
Brands that recognize the importance of trust will continue to invest in strengthening this bond. In the Edelman Trust special report, 65 per cent of respondents said that a brand’s response in a crisis would have a significant impact on their likelihood of purchasing it in the future. Over 1/3rd consumers said that they have started using a new brand because of the innovative or compassionate way in which it has responded. We have seen this in the past few months with a change in the shopper footprint as consumers avoid store crowds, putting a premium on safety.
Building trust requires staying true to the brand promise and its purpose. Trust in a food brand while based on many factors, is primarily based on the three pillars of Quality, Nutrition & Authenticity. It is necessary to address these factors throughout the farm-to-fork chain until the food reaches the consumer. While the elements of the chain may not be visible, as far as the consumer is concerned, the brand has the onus of ensuring quality and nutrition. And this is where trust comes into play. Quality will continue to play a heightened role, and this must be addressed throughout the consumer delivery chain. Safety for the consumer will be reflected in the way food brands highlight safe and hygienic automated manufacturing processes that are untouched by human hands, initiate remodeling for self-select stores with safe logistics, contactless deliveries that prioritize safety while maintaining efficiency, and improving the consumer experience. The extended period that a majority have been homebound due to the lockdown has resulted in a decrease in physical activity and an increase in snacking.
At times like these, the role of nutrition becomes important. Because, what we eat and how much we eat is the key to good health, and food brands that deliver on their nutritional promises in an authentic way continue to build the trust of the consumer. Food brands promising good nutrition should enable healthy eating and an active lifestyle that contributes to good health. A detailed nutrition profile displayed on the packs is a simple yet responsible action.
Building brand trust and credibility make for a good business sense. Anchoring Brand India to a foundation of trust will ensure a strong base on which the Indian Agri and Food Processing industry can expand its wings to forge global bonds and make trust the cornerstone of its relationship with its customers and consumers even after this crisis.
The author is Co-Chair, FICCI Food Processing Committee and Managing Director, Kellogg, India & South Asia