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Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center

Communicating to consumers

Consumers are looking for information about what they are eating, where the food comes from and who is growing or producing the product. Large portions of today’s consumers are known as millennials, and these customers are a driving force in the trend to search and gain information from the Internet.

By Erin Johnson

(Stillwater, Okla. - July 13, 2016) Today’s consumers are more removed from the food industry than ever before. However, with that being said, consumers have become more concerned about where their food originates and who makes it.

Consumers are looking for information about what they are eating, where the food comes from and who is growing or producing the product. Large portions of today’s consumers are known as millennials, and these customers are a driving force in the trend to search and gain information from the Internet.

According to the Pew Research Center, 50 percent of the public now cites the Internet as a main source for news. This is especially true to younger Americans, including millennials.

In addition, a study from Pew Research Center found the share of Americans who use social media, especially Facebook and Twitter, as a source of news is continuing to rise.

In today’s world of mass communication and around-the-hour news, the average consumer is constantly bombarded with information; however, not all the information is accurate.

The food industry must keep consumers informed with accurate information, as well as being transparent without adding confusion when answering questions about the food industry. A variety of avenues, including informational videos on YouTube to independent blogs, can be used to keep in touch with the consuming public.

For example, McDonald’s is producing and posting question-and-answer videos on YouTube called “Our Food. Your Questions.” McDonald’s is reaching out to its consumers and answering questions and concerns that have been voiced on social media sites. The videos feature visits to food-processing plants that supply products to McDonald’s, including Oklahoma’s own Lopez Foods, so consumers can see exactly how McDonald’s food is made.

This serves as a great tool for the public to not only understand how food is made, but also to visually experience the process. By being transparent, the food industry can show consumers how food is produced or grown and what the industry, as a whole, is doing in terms of food safety to offer quality products and keep consumers safe. Safety procedures, harvesting, washing and packaging each play an important role in delivering a safe and healthy product to the consumer.

Another idea is to show consumers how to use food products in new ways. Recipes can be great tools, but taking an extra step to create videos showing how to make the recipes is important.

Opening the lines of communications is vital in gaining public trust and earning customers who will be loyal to your brand.

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