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Millennials: The New B2B Decision Makers in the Food Industry and How to Reach Them Online

As the largest generation in the U.S. labor force, millennials (generally defined as people born between 1980 and the early 2000s) hold a lot of power in the business world. With nearly 73 percent of millennials involved in purchasing decisions for their companies, they have become an important audience for B2B food ingredient marketing—and their coworkers value their insight. More than half of millennials said that people seek them out for their knowledge and opinions, compared with only 35 percent of boomers. By taking the time to observe and engage with this powerful demographic, you will be better equipped to retain current customers and gain new ones.

When it comes to marketing to millennial B2B decision makers, one of the best places to start is social media. After all, it’s where they spend most of their time, and it’s where they go to seek out new information. The following focus areas serve as valuable benchmarks to help you attract, retain and engage with this powerful and influential target audience.

Authenticity
Millennials are different than any other generation. They communicate, make decisions and buy in ways that are unique to their generation. Millennials are also very insightful. They can easily identify when advertisers are giving it to them straight and when they are not. Therefore, it is important to be authentic with your messaging if you want to engage with the new class of B2B decision makers. When possible, share testimonials, case studies, white papers and infographics through B2B social media to establish credibility and value. The more supporting resources and content you have to tell your brand story, the more likely this audience will be to value your brand.

Convenience
As the most tech-savvy generation in history, millennials are extremely active online. They frequently follow and seek out the opinions of social media influencers almost as much as—if not more than—they do their friends or family. To ensure your messaging reaches and resonates well with this demographic of buyers, consider implementing B2B social media strategies that focus on simple messaging with fresh, timely content that is easy to access. Additionally, adding visual content to your B2B social media communication can help you reach millennial decision makers and deliver relevant information in a convenient format.

Credibility
As mentioned, millennials—including those with decision-making power—are more likely to be influenced by their peers than advertisers or the media. In fact, 23 percent of older millennials said they are more likely not to purchase or do business with brands that their friends disapprove of, as opposed to only 12 percent of boomers. Millennials are also more likely to turn to social media to share their gratification (and negative feedback) about brands online. By capitalizing on the influence of millennials on social media, you can gain trust and buy-in from today’s B2B decision makers.

Values
Millennials like to connect their actions to social causes. As a result, food ingredient brands that share their sustainable practices, implement mission-driven strategies or publicly give back to their communities are more likely to attract millennial purchasers. In fact, 37 percent say they are willing to pay more for a brand that supports a cause they believe in. As a food ingredient marketer, you have an opportunity to publicize the do-good values of your company. For example, does your organization practice business sustainably and ethically? Consider blogging about it and sharing it on your B2B social media platforms. Has your team participated in some type of community service event recently? Don’t be afraid to post pictures on your company’s social media feeds, and encourage your employees to share the posts across their personal accounts for greater reach and brand recognition.

At the end of the day, millennials want relevant information they can digest quickly, and the easiest way for them to access this information is through B2B social media. By taking steps to ensure your messaging is authentic, convenient (i.e., accessible on the go), credible and purposeful, you will be more likely to attract, retain and engage with the newest generation of B2B decision makers for food ingredient purchases.

Hi Europe Offers Ingredient Experts and Insights

The biennial Health Ingredients Europe and Natural Ingredients Conference (HiE), produced by the Fi Global team from UBM, will be held in Frankfurt, Germany, from Nov. 29 through Dec. 1, 2016. One of the largest health and nutrition conferences and trade shows in the world, HiE provides a complete overview of the nutrition and wellness industries. International leaders in nutritional food and beverage innovation meet to network with each other and to share their latest healthy ingredient solutions.

As a key part of the event, the Hi Europe Modular Conference will address the biggest challenges and hottest trends in the food industry with over 18 highly focused module presentations from leading industry experts. I am very excited about this year’s conference, where I will be speaking on cutting-edge trends for the industry. Take a look at this short video interview for more information:

My presentation on “Mapping the Diverse Consumer Landscape and Defining the Key Generational Groups” will be on Tuesday, Nov. 29, during the Modular Conference presentations. My presentation on “Best Practices for Food Ingredient Marketers” will be on Wednesday, Nov. 30, at the Industry Insight Theatre on the Expo floor.

Attendees will receive a free copy of our recent research report on “The Next Generation of B2B Customers,” as well as a free copy of our newly updated review of “Best Practices in Food Ingredient Marketing Communications.” I hope you and your colleagues will be able to join me for these presentations during the conference.

You can find additional information about Hi Europe at http://www.figlobal.com/hieurope-conference/, or to register for the conference, visit http://www.figlobal.com/hieurope-conference/attend/register-today.

I look forward to seeing you there.

Best Practices for B2B Food Ingredient Marketers

One of the biggest challenges for food ingredient marketers is customer engagement—getting the attention of customers, capturing their interest in your products and services and converting that into sales. To help food ingredient marketers overcome that challenge, our team of experts continually researches the most successful B2B food ingredient marketing communications industry-wide to develop a set of best practices that have proven to be highly effective in generating awareness, creating engagement and building strong sales relationships with key audiences.

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We recently published a report that showcases these best practices in action with insights into how they help overcome the challenges of customer engagement. We are firm believers that there is no one silver bullet when it comes to utilizing these best practices. They are most effective when implemented within a strategic, integrated marketing communications plan—as it better positions you to engage with prospects and customers in the environments they’re in and on the communication platforms they’re using.

To download a copy of the report, click here.

Joining the Conversation—Telling the Food Science Story

For many years now, the food science community has struggled with how to tell the food science story in the age of increasingly skeptical consumers. With the growth of pseudoscience “experts” and opinion-driven advocates like the Food Babe, food scientists have often felt bewildered about how to bring a rational, science-based voice to the conversation. Even worse, they often feel left out of the conversation entirely and without the tools or skills that they need to join the conversation with the informed view that sound food science can offer.

The struggle to tell the food science story has been an ongoing theme throughout the food industry and a major topic of conversation among food trade associations, as well as at national and international food conferences. But at this year’s annual meeting of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) in Chicago, the conversation took a major step forward as several keynote speakers and featured panel discussion sessions took the topic head-on and started to offer food scientists the strategies and the tactics they need to start using their storytelling skills to effectively deliver the food science message.

During the IFT Leadership Summit, one of the featured speakers was Trevor Butterworth, a co-founder of the non-profit, non-partisan Sense about Science organization. His presentation on “Effective Science Communication” provided practical tips and real-world examples of how food scientists can effectively engage with the mainstream media to tell their story. He emphasized transparency, authenticity and presenting science in simple, easy to understand stories. He also urged spokespeople to “know your audience” and engage with them in conversations instead of attacking them for their lack of scientific literacy. The Sense about Science group has even published “A Media Guide for Scientists” with practical advice on dealing with journalists before, during and after a media interview.

A featured panel discussion during the IFT16 scientific sessions focused on “Food Trends vs. Food Fads.” The IFT_07558_InsideImageindustry experts on the panel all agreed that the food-science community needs to do a better job of presenting the food-science story to consumers. The panel discussed the explosive growth in social media and the need for food scientists to participate in the “two-way conversation” regarding processed food and functional ingredients necessary in delivering a safe, nutritious and abundant food supply, especially in the area of clean labels and simple ingredients. Food Business News reported on the panel in a feature story on “The complicated reality of simple ingredients.”

Also at IFT16, a keynote address from Bev Postma, an international food policy specialist, drew a standing room only crowd.  Titled “Taming Dragons in the Age of Pseudoscience,” Ms. Postma’s presentation focused on how to engage the pseudoscientists and the opinion-driven advocates in meaningful conversations to help tell the food-science story. She offered several direct ideas to food scientists to help build an emotional connection during those conversations including:
1.    Enter every conversation assuming there is something to learn.
2.    Express empathy and genuinely seek to understand the other side’s positions.
3.    Listen with the intent of building mutual understanding.

As Ms. Postma pointed out, once an emotional connection is made, scientists can steer the conversation to the many ways that science and technology can benefit consumers and their food supply.

By far the most important new development at IFT16 was the increased willingness of the food-science community to join in the ongoing conversation and become more proactive in telling the food-science story. Expect to see more activity and media coverage as more food scientists and their spokespeople get involved in talking about all of the important and necessary benefits that food science brings to our rapidly growing world.

B-to-B Marketers Need to Tell Brand Stories

FoodNavigator Feature Says: “Ingredient Suppliers have brand story to tell too.”

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Mark Hughes, president of Anderson Partners Food Ingredient Marketing, recently had an extended conversation with FoodNavigators’ Maggie Hennessy on the need for food ingredient suppliers and marketers to tell their brand stories as part of their marketing communications plans. They talked about how the best ingredient marketers create premium positions for their products that differentiate them from their competitors and create value perceptions that let them break through the clutter of other commodity ingredient products. Maggie wrote a feature on the conversation for FoodNavigator that can be found here.

Food ingredient marketers can use the same branding techniques as consumer food products in telling their stories to their B-to-B customer and prospect audiences. By focusing on the best practices of other successful ingredient companies, food ingredient marketers can build authentic brand stories that resonate and engage their audiences. Content marketing strategies and B-to-B social media platforms can help spread the word and build an even wider audience. All of the principles of good branding and the branding strategies and tactics that apply to consumer products can be successfully deployed to support the ingredient product brand as well.

The most successful food ingredient companies we see are those that execute fully integrated marketing plans to tell their stories and create premium positions for their brands. You can see examples of these brands and case histories on the Best Practices section of our website. Highlights include best practices like featuring ingredient applications, branding product sample packaging, content marketing tactics and trade show strategies. We also put together a Food Ingredient Marketing Best Practices Report designed to help you develop more successful food ingredient marketing communication programs.

If you have brand stories you are telling about your food ingredient products, we would love to hear about them in the comments.

 

Branding Your R&D Capabilities

Recently, we wrote about the impact that the clean-label movement is making throughout the food ingredient industry and how that impact influenced a lot of the messaging we saw at IFT this year. As the food industry continues to ride the wave of reformulations and better-for-you product rollouts, a flurry of action is taking place within one of the most important parts of many food ingredient companies—the R&D division—whose talents and innovative thinking make ingredients come to life in customer applications.

Companies that promote the resources and capabilities of its R&D is nothing new in food ingredients. However, we’re seeing more and more companies going beyond simply giving this team of experts a brief write-up and taking the extra step to fully brand this part of its company.

Here are some of the more memorable ways companies are creating a brand around its R&D—tactics that include memorable monikers, logo treatments, dedicated websites and unique characters:

Anyone who’s familiar with TIC Gums has seen the Gum Guru who represents the expertise and accessibility of the company’s team of food scientists. The frequent and consistent use of this character through all of the company’s branding has made the Gum Guru not just the symbol of its R&D but the symbol of the entire company, as demonstrated by its official tagline—We’re your Gum Guru. Its blog, video library and trade show mascot are just a few of the many ways TIC Gums has put the Gum Guru character in action to define the brand of the company.

Bungebiic.com is a website devoted to the Bunge Ingredient Innovation Center, and you’ll see how it’s designated its innovation teams “the oil experts” and “the milling experts,” along with accompanying logos. It’s also named its mobile food truck MOE for “mobile oil experts” and has even given the truck its own twitter feed: twitter.com/bungemoe.

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Naturex has a network of seven regional application laboratories around the world to support clients in its transition to applications made with natural ingredients. In a smart branding move, it’s named this network SPRINGlab for Sharing Product Ingenuity.

Chef’s Corner is a robust area of the Red Arrow website featuring several videos of its corporate chefs sharing tips and techniques on enhancing the flavor of various products, as well as a library of recipes organized by product category, food source and cooking method.

As you can see, food ingredient companies know that selling the capabilities and knowledge of a team tasked with making the R&D process a positive experience for food manufacturers is just as important as selling products. Branding these teams is a great way to bring personality to people who are key to a successful customer relationship.

Guest Correspondent Mark Crowell Shares How to Hire the Right Consultant

This week we feature guest blogger Mark Crowell, founder and principal culinologist at CuliNex, sharing his thoughts on the kinds of questions you need to ask yourself in order to hire a consultant who’s a good fit for your needs. CuliNex is one of the food industry’s premier consulting firms providing product development and strategic business services focused on clean label food products.

Choosing the right product development consultant to help make your product development dreams come true is a daunting task and can feel like a risky gamble. Because they are usually providing a service, there’s no physical product to evaluate, so you’re largely making your decision based on your research and what the consultant tells you. Selecting one that is a good fit for your needs can literally make the difference between the success and failure of your project.

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So how do you remove some of the risk and tilt the odds in your favor? Not surprisingly, doing your homework is a big part of it. The better you understand the consultant’s capabilities and your own needs, the easier it will be to suss out if the fit is a good one. Here are some of the most important questions to ask and the kind of answers you should be ready to provide:

On the consultant side of things

  • Does your consultant specialize in the work you need accomplished or is it just a sideline for them? What is their track record with projects of your type? Do they have case studies, testimonials, and references they can provide you?
  • What size companies do they prefer to work with? If you are entrepreneurial and scrappy, and they work with Fortune 500 companies, that could be an issue.
  • What is their operating philosophy? Do they only do projects from start to finish or do they offer their service a la carte?
  • Do they want a long-term relationship or are they just interested in a one-time project?
  • Can they relate to and understand your company and your customers?
  • Do they have the level of business sophistication that you require?
  • Do they get what you are trying to accomplish? That’s going to make a big difference in how quickly they can get up to speed with your project.
  • How do they charge for their services? What happens if the project scope changes or the project is delayed?

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On your side

  • You will want to make sure your consultant understands your company and your project (and you, if you are going to be the point of contact).
  • Do you have a good project definition? Have you done your homework on the project’s business justification? How well have you defined the product opportunity? How does it fit with your brand and overall strategy? What kind of value is it going to add if successful? (This should lead you to some conclusions regarding what a reasonable R&D budget will be).
  • Have you done any consumer research on the intended target market?
  • Which services are you going to need from the consultant? Will the consultant be working as part of a cross-functional team or working on his or her own, independent of others? What roles and responsibilities will other people in your company have (e.g. approver, champion, contract administrator, accounting, market research, etc.)?
  • What is your gut sense about them? Do they inspire confidence? Are they trustworthy?
  • Are they easy to understand and communicate with? Are they organized? Do they seem to have a system? Are they efficient?

By doing your homework and ensuring a good fit between your consultant, your project, and your company, you can go a long way toward turning a crap shoot into a long lasting, mutually beneficial, strategic relationship.

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B2B Social Media for Food Ingredient Marketers Part 3

In parts 1 and 2 of our series, B2B Social Media for Food Ingredient Marketers, we looked at the growth of B2B social media, the importance of utilizing platforms that your audience is using and engaging with those individuals enterprise-wide. To wrap up our series, we’ll look at how to integrate B2B social media into your overall marketing communications plan.

It’s important to look at B2B social media as an additional platform to communicate and connect with your audience. We see food ingredient companies having the most success when they use social media in conjunction with other content marketing platforms. In the integrated content marketing and B2B social media model below, we look at the website as being the hub for content. A best practice we see in the industry is food ingredient marketers utilizing a blog on their website as a source for original content. A blog is a great platform to further engage your target audience by sharing insights, trends and more detailed information around the products and services you offer that would be helpful to new product development and reformulations. What really helps drive your target audience to your products and services, knowledge and expertise is how and where you share that content to push it beyond your website.

Integrated Content Marketing and B2B Social Media Model

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Email marketing is a tactic that provides you a platform to communicate your message and share your content. Combining email marketing with social media increases your message reach and amplifies exposure. As we mentioned in part two of our series, professionals enterprise-wide from your customer audience are engaged in social media beyond personal use. They use it to gather information to help guide them on their purchasing decisions and product development.

We see a lot of companies having great success with this approach. Tyson Food Service is a great example. Tyson Food Service has a website and blog where they share relevant content to their audience. They use email marketing and social media channels such as LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube to further communicate their message, broaden visibility to their brand and engage with their audience.

When you incorporate B2B social media into an integrated content marketing model, similar to how Tyson Food Service has done, you create a feedback loop with your target audience allowing you to engage in discussion with individuals, learn more about what’s important to them and increase your marketplace success.

We would like to hear how you are doing with B2B social media. Write us directly or comment here with your own success stories.

B2B Social Media for Food Ingredient Marketers Part 2

Part one of our series on B2B social media for food ingredient marketers highlighted how social media use among food ingredient companies has skyrocketed in the last five years. In part two of the series, we will explore the food ingredient industry’s use of B2B social media and the key audiences to connect with online.

With the sheer number of individuals using social media, and the fact that it is used for professional and personal engagements, it can be hard to identify who’s out there. When it comes to B2B food industry social media use, there are many professionals using LinkedIn and Twitter as their primary social media platforms:

  • Your competition
  • Your customers
  • Your customers’ consumers
  • Trade media publishers and editors
  • Industry associations

When it comes to selling your ingredients, there are a number of individuals from your customer companies who have an influence on what ingredients are included in their products. You’ve got to look beyond purchasing and communicate and engage with your customers and target audience enterprise-wide. Engaging with individuals enterprise-wide means you have to market your product in such a way that is relevant to each audience.

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  • C-Suite Executives – may not be directly involved in the purchasing of ingredients, but are overarching influencers of what ingredients are incorporated into their products.
  • Purchasing – influenced by cost, supply chain and food safety.
  • Marketing Executives – look at the benefits and advantages of using ingredients in their products to help them market and sell their finished goods.
  • Research Chefs – are interested in food trends, culinary arts and the science of food.
  • Innovation Experts – focused on trends and what consumers are looking for as well as what new technologies are available to enhance their products or develop new applications.
  • Food Scientists – look for information regarding food safety, quality, developing new formulations and applications.

Most of these individuals are active on social media every day. They participate on Twitter as well as on LinkedIn by sharing news articles, food industry trends and information about their company’s latest innovations. Most of these individuals engage in discussion by using relevant hashtags in their Tweets and also by commenting on LinkedIn Pulse Posts and LinkedIn group discussions that are relevant to their business. They gather information from social media to help guide them on their purchasing decisions and product development. That’s why it’s important for food ingredient marketers to use B2B social media—it’s where their audience is. Using social media as another communication platform keeps your message and brand top of mind.

In part three of our series on B2B social media for food ingredient marketers, we will share the steps food ingredient marketers can take to launch a social media plan as part of an integrated marketing plan. Until then, we would love to hear how your company is using social media to target and engage with individual influencers.

B2B Social Media for Food Ingredient Marketers Part 1

Social media has come a long way in the food industry. A communication platform that was once used primarily for personal use is now a professional engagement tool for B2B food ingredient marketers. As more B2C food manufacturers adopt social media into a marketing channel for their products, it provides an opportunity for B2B food ingredient companies to engage with their target audience in new ways.

In our three-part series on the social media effect on B2B marketing, we will first explore the growth of B2B social media use in the food industry and how social media is influencing B2B food ingredient marketing. In part two of our series, we’ll look at who is utilizing social media in the B2B food ingredient space and how they’re utilizing the various platforms. To wrap up the series we will show you an integrated marketing model your company can use to launch and maintain a successful social media presence.

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In the last five years, the use of social media in B2B food ingredient marketing has grown significantly. In 2014, the top two platforms used by B2B food ingredient marketers were LinkedIn and Twitter. We will continue to see these as the top two platforms in 2015, however, Facebook, YouTube and Google+ will also show some significant growth and provide additional platforms B2B food ingredient marketers can use to extend their brand visibility and engage with their target audience.

The rapid growth of B2B food ingredient social media use has changed the way B2B decision makers make a purchase. Because of all the information and resources food ingredient companies are routinely sharing on social media, 74% of decision makers use LinkedIn when making a purchase decision and 42% use Twitter. In addition to B2B social media influencing decision makers, 81% turn to blogs for assistance with their purchasing decisions.

As a communication platform that is ongoing—24 hours a day, 7 days a week—social media has become a virtual trade show for the B2B food industry. Establishing social media channels as part of your B2B food ingredient marketing communications plan extends the visibility of your brand and messaging, and provides another platform to engage with your target audience.

In part two of our B2B social media for food ingredient marketers series, we will discuss who the key influencers are that food ingredient companies should be targeting on social media and how to engage with them on the various platforms. Until then, we would love to hear your thoughts on the growth of B2B social media in food ingredient marketing in the comments below.

B-to-B Marketers Need to Tell Brand Stories

FoodNavigator Feature Says: “Ingredient Suppliers have brand story to tell too.”

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Mark Hughes, president of Anderson Partners Food Ingredient Marketing, recently had an extended conversation with FoodNavigators’ Maggie Hennessy on the need for food ingredient suppliers and marketers to tell their brand stories as part of their marketing communications plans. They talked about how the best ingredient marketers create premium positions for their products that differentiate them from their competitors and create value perceptions that let them break through the clutter of other commodity ingredient products. Maggie wrote a feature on the conversation for FoodNavigator that can be found here.

Food ingredient marketers can use the same branding techniques as consumer food products in telling their stories to their B-to-B customer and prospect audiences. By focusing on the best practices of other successful ingredient companies, food ingredient marketers can build authentic brand stories that resonate and engage their audiences. Content marketing strategies and B-to-B social media platforms can help spread the word and build an even wider audience. All of the principles of good branding and the branding strategies and tactics that apply to consumer products can be successfully deployed to support the ingredient product brand as well.

The most successful food ingredient companies we see are those that execute fully integrated marketing plans to tell their stories and create premium positions for their brands. You can see examples of these brands and case histories on the Best Practices section of our website. Highlights include best practices like featuring ingredient applications, branding product sample packaging, content marketing tactics and trade show strategies. We also put together a Food Ingredient Marketing Best Practices Report designed to help you develop more successful food ingredient marketing communication programs.

If you have brand stories you are telling about your food ingredient products, we would love to hear about them in the comments.

 

New Website Provides Free Resources for Food Ingredient Marketers

A recently launched website designed around the needs of food ingredient marketing professionals, apfoodingredients.com, aims to help food ingredient companies overcome the challenges of customer engagement. The site provides examples of successful marketing programs that utilize industry best practices—giving visitors strategies and tactics they can utilize within their own marketing plans. It also features a blog devoted to the food ingredient industry, indepth, as well as industry news from a variety of prominent food ingredient publications.

APFIMNewWebsitePressReleaseDeveloped by Anderson Partners Food Ingredient Marketing (APFIM), the site lets marketing professionals gain insights on a variety of topics including: marketing campaigns, trends, industry events and best practices in food ingredient marketing. A portfolio shows best practice examples that have been pivotal in successful marketing programs. Visitors can also search the site for articles and resources they need to help them identify opportunities to increase brand awareness and drive sales.

Mark Hughes, president of APFIM, stated, “With the launch of this new website, our audience can access resources to help them develop effective marketing campaigns aimed at enterprise-wide customer engagement. Having worked with some of the industry’s largest food ingredient companies, we know what matters most to the different B-to-B audiences and how companies can adapt their marketing communication models in an ever-evolving market landscape.”

Best Practice: Branded Sample Packaging from Land O’Lakes Ingredients

Over the years, we’ve received numerous product samples from food ingredient companies and routinely, they arrive in plain baggies or boxes with simple product labels. We feel these particular sample packages—ones that land in the hands of customers—are missed opportunities for brand reinforcement and targeted sales messaging. As an industry best practice, branding product sample packaging will make a lasting impression among the customers and prospects who receive your samples.

A great example of this industry best practice is one sent out by LOL-IMG_9871Land O’Lakes Ingredients. For the introduction of their Green Chile Queso dairy seasoning, Land O’Lakes Ingredients mailed a sample package that consisted of a branded box with an engaging call-to-action message that said “Check inside for another bright idea from Land O’Lakes Ingredients.”

Along with the branding on the outside of the box, the inside of the lid contained a strong marketing message and also featured a branded trifold brochure that defined the ingredient product and sample application within the package. The brochure also had a call-to-action that provided customers and prospects the contact information to learn more and/or order the Green Chile Queso dairy seasoning.

In addition to the branded box and collateral, each of the samples contained a branded label that clearly detailed the contents of the container. The Green Chile Queso tortilla chips application sample had a simple white label with the Land O’Lakes Ingredients logo, while the Green Chile Queso dairy seasoning sample had a branded label that matched the look and feel of the brochure and box it was shipped in.

All in all, Land O’Lakes Ingredients’ Green Chile Queso sample package provides another great example of following the industry best practice of branding sample packaging—using it as a tool to communicate with customers to reinforce the brand and deliver a strong targeted message.

Ingredient Suppliers Have a Brand Story to Tell, Too

Our industry expert, Mark Hughes, recently spoke to Maggie Hennessy from FoodNavigator-USA and provided his insights for an article about industry best practices in food ingredient marketing. The article, Anderson Partners: Ingredient Suppliers Have a Brand Story to Tell, Too, presents effective branding and marketing opportunities for food ingredient companies to adapt into their marketing communication platforms that will help them demonstrate the value of their ingredients in their customers finished products.

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From industry best practices such as branded sample packaging, featuring ingredient applications, growing an internet footprint and enterprise-wide communications, the article highlights the importance of delivering your brand story and maintaining visibility in as many venues as possible to reach your audience and increase marketplace success.

Mark Hughes will be speaking more to this topic in a workshop titled, Best Practices in Food Ingredient Marketing Communications in London at the Fi Global Summit on Sept. 23.

Best Practice: Bioenergy Ribose Landing Page Features Ingredient Applications

In a recent blog post, we shared an example of an industry best practice in food ingredient marketing—branded sample packaging. Another industry best practice we see helping food ingredient companies reach their customers enterprise-wide is featuring ingredient applications.

Bioenergy Ribose - Sweet Innovation Landing PageBioenergy Life Science (Bioenergy) launched a landing page called The Sweet Taste of Innovation for its ingredient, Bioenergy Ribose—a bioactive ingredient that energizes functional foods and beverages. Like most ingredients in the industry, Bioenergy Ribose on its own is a white powder. Rather than show its white powder ingredient to customers, Bioenergy features an array of food applications in confectionary, beverage and bakery that incorporate Bioenergy Ribose on its landing page—presenting customers the value the ingredient can bring to their products. In addition to visually showing the applications, the landing page engages customers as they navigate around the landing page—by simply moving their cursor over a particular application, a pop-up appears providing customers with additional information on the enhanced health benefits Bioenergy Ribose provides.

As customers scroll through the landing page, they can see additional applications and also learn about the advantages of incorporating Bioenergy Ribose and the science behind the ingredient. The landing page also engages customers through a “request a sample” form and gives them the opportunity to interact with the experts at Bioenergy Life Science through links to their social media platforms.

By incorporating the industry’s best practice of featuring ingredient applications, Bioenergy Life Science is able to visually present the value Bioenergy Ribose can bring as an ingredient to its customers’ products.

Fi Global Summit Workshop: Best Practices in Food Ingredient Marketing Communications

From Sept. 23-25, thought leaders from the food and beverage industry across the globe will be brought together at the Fi Global Summit to inspire new ideas around ingredients, innovation and trends.

In his workshop titled Best Practices in Food Ingredient Marketing Communications, Mark Hughes, president of Anderson Partners Food Ingredient Marketing, will share valuable insights about the ever-evolving market landscape for food ingredient companies, and how companies can effectively utilize newer communication platforms for successful business-to-business marketing plans.

During the workshop, attendees will gain real-time knowledge to increase marketplace success in key categories including bakery, beverage, dairy, retail-own brands and confectionary, as well as target audiences within those categories including CEOs, marketing, R&D and purchasing.

Keeping Customers EngagedThe workshop will include specific case histories from leading global companies on successful strategies and tactics. Examples will cover engaging with customers through enterprise-wide communications; successful strategies and tactics to increase brand awareness and drive sales; and incorporating new marketing communication models to execute a fully integrated business-to-business marketing plan.

To learn more about the Fi Global Summit and to view a complete conference program, click here.

Best Practice: Chiquita Fruit Solutions’ Branded Sample Packaging

To make a lasting impression among the customers and prospects who receive samples, it’s an industry best practice to brand your product sample packaging. Chiquita Fruit Solutions made an impact with its branded sample packaging that simply stated “Open Your Imagination.”

Chiquita Sample PackaingChiquita Fruit Solutions created a unique sample package for its Fruit Crumbles—a 100 percent natural, air-crisped fruit ingredient product with a wide range of surprising food applications. To capture the attention of Chiquita Fruit Solutions’ customers and to stretch their imaginations, the sample packaging and its contents were designed to help expand the possibilities for customer applications.

Since the shipping box was the first piece of marketing collateral seen by customers, Chiquita Fruit Solutions followed industry best practices and made sure its company name and messaging was visible by labeling all four sides of the box with the Chiquita Fruit Solutions logo, a headline stating, “All Natural Fruit Crumbles,” and an application image with the text “Open Your Imagination.”

Contained in the box were well-labeled Banana Crumbles and Fruit Chips, Tropical Mix Crumbles and Fruit Chips, and Pineapple Rings. The sample package also included a brochure that provided customers with a list of product features, nutritional information and contact information to learn more about Chiquita Fruit Crumbles.

By following the industry’s best practices on sample packaging, Chiquita Fruit Solutions was able to reinforce its brand and deliver a targeted message to its customers—and hopefully open some imaginations.

Ardent Mills Mobile Innovation Center: Driving Grain Innovation to Customers

Ardent Mills IFT Booth

As mentioned in our IFT ҅14 Round Up blog post, Ardent Mills unveiled their newly formed company that combines the operations of ConAgra Mills and Horizon Milling and introduced their new customer engagement vehicle, the Mobile Innovation Center (MIC).

At 57-feet-long, the MIC is a state-of-the-art culinary center with a multipurpose platform designed to bring on-site culinary creativity, hands-on education and interactive R&D support right to customers’ front doors. A converted NASCAR truck featuring two levels with plenty of storage, the MIC has the flexibility to change out equipment to fit the needs of customers at their locations or at community events that it travels to. The Mobile Innovation Center carries a wide variety of ingredient products, a full suite of culinary and commercial baking equipment and a multipurpose meeting space with audiovisual capabilities to aid in education and ideation when onsite.

Ardent Mills Rig and Trailer BackWith the Mobile Innovation Center, Ardent Mills has a great tool to further engage with customers, helping them turn their next great idea into a reality—right at their doorstep. The Mobile Innovation Center will be driving grain innovation across North America when it goes on the road beginning in the fall of 2014.

Carmi Flavors: Best Practices for Exporting US Food & Beverage Products Overseas

As mentioned in a previous blog post, Carmi Flavors does a great job of content marketing through their targeted email newsletters. We’ve recently partnered with them on sharing content. Featured below is an article that was written by Lindsey Radek from Carmi Flavors about best practices for exporting US food & beverage products overseas.

Best Practices for Exporting US Food & Beverage Products Overseas
Author: Lindsey Radek, Carmi Flavors

The US-China Business Council’s (USCBC) annual report on US State Exports to China shows that the world’s second-largest economy continues to be an important market for the economic health of American companies and farmers. In 2013, US exports to China reached $120 billion, making it the third-largest export market for US goods behind Canada and Mexico.

These numbers show the growing potential for US food and beverage companies looking to expand their brand beyond American soil. We recently sat down with Peter Guyer, president of Athena Marketing International (AMI), a leading consulting firm in global food and beverage exportation, and picked his brain on the best way to take advantage of the growing international food and beverage markets.

AMI works in more than 130 countries, importing US food & beverage products, specifically Europe, Asia and South America. Guyer added AMI has seen a recent increase in demand in the Middle East and Africa.

Guyer’s Top Tips for Successfully Exporting your Product:

  1. Comply with packaging regulations: Research the country’s packaging requirements that you are targeting.
  2. Write ingredients in the appropriate foreign language.
  3. Comply with import regulations: Make sure there are no ingredients that are prohibited—a lot of preservatives used in the US are prohibited in foreign countries. For more information, read the recently revised country requirements from the USDA.
  4. Best selling products include mass market items: potato chips, snack foods and meat products—products that are well-known in foreign countries.
  5. Products that are novel, innovative and new do well: The markets are smaller, therefore sales are lower but the growth rate is high.
  6. Europe is hot: They are just getting out of a lengthy recession and their buying power is coming back to where it was five years ago.
  7. Attend/Exhibit major international trade shows: Particularly in Europe—ANUGA Cologne and SIAL Paris. Guyer said Gulfood in the Middle East is a trade show you can’t miss. And, Asia has many major trade shows, but they are more segmented by categories within food and beverage.

More From AMI

 

Carmi Flavors Uses Channel-specific Email Marketing to Target Customers and Prospects

We are always on the lookout for good content-marketing campaigns. One of the platforms we look to is email. Email marketing is considered a best practice to use for generating sales leads. Since most people, on average, receive over a hundred emails a day, email marketing can have its challenges. But, those challenges can easily be overcome with the right message, creative visuals and relevant links to sources of information for customers and prospects.

Carmi Flavors E-newslettersCarmi Flavors uses targeted email marketing, broken out by channels like Beverage, Bakery, Pizza and Restaurant, to reach its customers and prospects. We recently received an e-newsletter from Carmi Flavors called Beverage Exchange. The e-newsletter focused on the marketplace and industry news topics that would be of interest to its beverage manufacturer customers and prospects. The e-newsletter had a table of contents, with each headline linking to the relevant article or heading within the e-newsletter, allowing readers to easily navigate the content based on their interest. In addition to interactive and engaging content, Carmi Flavors also incorporated a beverage application photo—another best practice in the food ingredient industry.

Aside from distributing the e-newsletter, Carmi Flavors posts a link to the web version of the e-newsletter on its website, along with the other channel-specific e-newsletters it distributes.

By using targeted email marketing campaigns, Carmi Flavors can showcase its knowledge of each channel and provide relevant information to the specific food manufacturers its sales teams are targeting. Many sales forces find it difficult to penetrate R&D, product development and marketing departments on their own. With the use of email marketing, sales teams are provided a detailed tracking report that shows them who has opened and clicked on links within the email—what we would consider a follow-up list of qualified leads.

Carmi Flavors provides us a great example of the best practice of using email marketing to target customers and prospects to generate qualified sales leads. To learn more about this best practice as well as other industry best practices, click here to request a copy of our Best Practice Research Report for food ingredient marketers, or if email marketing is something you’d like more information on and want help incorporating it into your marketing communications, let us know.

Land O’Lakes Green Chile Queso Sample Packaging Has Some Kick

Over the years, we’ve received numerous product samples from food ingredient companies and routinely, they arrive in plain baggies or boxes with simple product labels. We feel these particular sample packages—ones that land in the hands of customers—are missed opportunities for brand reinforcement and targeted sales messaging. As an industry best practice, branding product sample packaging will make a lasting impression among the customers and prospects who receive your samples.

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A great example of this industry best practice is one we recently received from Land O’Lakes Ingredients. For the introduction of their new Green Chile Queso dairy seasoning, Land O’Lakes Ingredients mailed out a sample package that consisted of a branded box with an engaging call-to-action message that said “Check inside for another bright idea from Land O’Lakes Ingredients.”

Along with the branding on the outside of the box, the inside of the lid contained a strong marketing message and also featured a branded trifold brochure that defined the ingredient product and sample application within the package. The brochure also had a call-to-action that provided customers and prospects the contact information to learn more and/or order the Green Chile Queso dairy seasoning.

In addition to the branded box and collateral, each of the samples contained a branded label that clearly detailed the contents of the container. The Green Chile Queso tortilla chips application sample had a simple white label with the Land O’Lakes Ingredients logo, while the Green Chile Queso dairy seasoning sample had a branded label that matched the look and feel of the brochure and box it was shipped in.

All in all, Land O’Lakes Ingredients’ Green Chile Queso sample package is a great example of turning a product sample package into a customer communication tool that reinforces the brand and delivers a strong targeted message.

Visit our website to learn more about the industry best practice of branding your product sample packaging. To get a detailed analysis of marketing communications in the food ingredients industry, click here to request a copy of our Best Practice Research Report for food ingredient marketers.

Content Marketing for Food Ingredient Companies

The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs recently published their third annual research results, 2013 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends. Sponsored by Brightcove, over 1,400 B2B marketers in North America, from diverse industries and a wide range of company sizes, were surveyed in August 2012.

Content Marketing

Based on the survey results, B2B marketers are using more tactics, distributing content on more social networks and spending more than they have in years past, making content marketing a top priority going into 2013.

However, as content marketing continues to trend upward, it still has its challenges. According to last year’s study, the biggest challenge was producing engaging content. This year, a majority of B2B marketers agree the challenge is now producing enough content.

Despite the challenges of content marketing, research showed, on average, 12 tactics were used by B2B marketers this year—a significant increase over the average number of tactics used in the past two years. However, with this increase, there is also more uncertainty for B2B marketers as to whether they are using these various tactics effectively.

The most popular content marketing tactic was social media, excluding blogs, with an 87 percent adoption rate—a significant increase from last year’s report, which showed social media at 74 percent. With all the various social media platforms, the findings showed B2B marketers are using LinkedIn more this year to distribute content, whereas the last two years, Twitter was the leader.

What tactics do you use for content marketing and will you continue using those tactics in 2013? How are you overcoming the challenge of producing enough content? Leave us a comment below. We’d love to hear your strategies and tactics around content marketing.

Social Media Marketing Best Practices from Kretchmar’s Bakery

Baking Channel - BakeThe Baking Channel on bakemag.com recently launched a social media video that featured Kretchmar’s Bakery from Beaver, PA. This video is a part of their tour, Discovering America’s Bakeries.

Lincoln Kretchmar, of Kretchmar’s Bakery, discussed why his company invested in social media and also shared some best practices he follows regarding social media marketing:

  • Social media is great for marketing and branding and can help build up your image.
  • It is a cost-effective way to communicate effectively with customers.
  • Post frequently—Kretchmar’s Bakery currently posts at least once a week.
  • Social media can be ineffective if done wrong—only post things that are engaging to your audience. It is about what is pertinent to your customers, not necessarily what is pertinent to you.

By following these best practices, Kretchmar’s Bakery has been effective in building relationships with its customers and increasing the bakery’s brand exposure. We’d love to hear what social media marketing best practices you follow and the success you’ve had. Leave us a comment below!

Chiquita Fruit Solutions: Open Your Imagination

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Chiquita Fruit Solutions offered product developers the opportunity to “Open Your Imagination” with a recent sampling program on their new Fruit Crumbles—a 100 percent natural, air-crisped fruit ingredient product with a wide range of surprising food applications.

To capture the attention of Chiquita Fruit Solutions’ customers and to stretch their imaginations, the sample packaging and its contents were designed to help expand the possibilities for customer applications.

Since the shipping box was the first piece of marketing collateral seen by customers, Chiquita Fruit Solutions followed industry best practices and made sure their company name and messaging was visible by labeling all four sides of the box with the Chiquita Fruit Solutions logo, a headline stating, “All Natural Fruit Crumbles,” and an application image with the text “Open Your Imagination.”

Contained in the box were well-labeled Banana Crumbles and Fruit Chips, Tropical Mix Crumbles and Fruit Chips, and Pineapple Rings. The sample package also included a brochure that provided customers with a list of product features, nutritional information and contact information to learn more about Chiquita Fruit Crumbles.

By following the industry’s best practices on sample packaging, Chiquita Fruit Solutions was able to reinforce their brand and deliver a targeted message to their customers—and hopefully open some imaginations.

 

Ingredion New Brand Name for Corn Products/National Starch

Ingredion

June was a big month for Corn Products/National Starch with the launch of their new company name, Ingredion.

Our team received an email from the Ingredion marketing team announcing their new name in early June. This email announcement dropped in the midst of Corn Product/National Starch’s campaign to promote their booth presence at IFT. The email did a great job of explaining what the name change would mean for Corn Product/National Starch’s current and potential customers.

The email also provided a link to a short video clip to further showcase what Ingredion would bring to its customers. In a little over two minutes, the video welcomes viewers to a new day by using graphics to show what they can do for their clients and what differentiates them in the industry.

Even though Ingredion states it has brought together the best of Corn Products and National Starch, each brand still has their own website. These two websites are both branded Ingredion and have consistent messaging. Since Ingredion is built on bringing together the best of Corn Products and National Starch, it will be interesting to see how long it takes before the two websites become one.

 

 

Pre-IFT Email Campaign From Corn Products/National Starch

With the 2012 Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting and Food Expo around the corner, many exhibitors have started promoting their booth presence and what products they’ll be featuring at the trade show.

National StarchAs part of their IFT promotion, we’ve received weekly emails from Corn Products/National Starch. Each email features one of the samples they will be offering at their booth and highlights their ingredient products they are using.

A great attribute of the email is a link that takes you to a landing page where more details are provided about the Corn Products/National Starch booth along with their roster of presenters for the technical sessions. The website not only provides details about the show, but its main page showcases an image of the Corn Products/National Starch booth. This is a nice element and it gives attendees an idea of what to look for when they arrive at the show.

Corn Products/National Starch has done a great job of marketing their presence at the 2012 IFT Expo. As we get closer to the show itself, it will be interesting to see what tactics other food ingredient companies use to promote their show presence.

Bioenergy Ribose Landing Page Features Applications

Bioenergy Ribose, a bioactive ingredient that energizes functional foods and beverages, recently launched a landing page for food manufacturers and developers called The Sweet Taste of Innovation.
Bioenergy Ribose Landing Page

Food applications on the page draw you in. As you move your cursor towards a particular dish, a note card pops out from underneath the plate of goodies with information on the enhanced health benefit Bioenergy Ribose provides. When it comes to marketing a food ingredient, a best practice is to focus on applications to engage your audience and Bioenergy Ribose did just that on their landing page.

There are two options for customers to learn more about how the ingredient functions as an energy source. On one side of the page, there is a notebook titled “The Science of Ribose” linking directly to a downloadable PDF that goes into detail of how Bioenergy Ribose functions as an energy source. And if that’s too scientific and technical, the opposite side of the landing page provides a Post-it note that links you to a small screen with a simplified, easy to understand version of how it all works. Another Post-it note lets you request a sample.

The Bioenergy Ribose landing page is user-friendly and visitors to the site can easily find what they are looking for, whether it’s to request a sample or to learn more about how Bioenergy Ribose functions as an energy source.

 

National Starch New Ingredient Guide

The choices are endless for food manufacturers when it comes to finding ingredients for new products, improving existing formulations or when looking to save on costs through ingredient replacement or processing efficiencies. To help make these decisions easier, the National Starch Food Innovation/Corn Products International recently published the 2012 edition of its “How to Choose Food Starches” guide.

NS-HowtoGuide4

The guide cross-references a broad line of ingredients with applications across all prepared food and beverage categories. It’s arranged by food segments and divided into subsegments for ease of navigation. Whether the goal is to improve texture, increase shelf life, have a clean label status, enhance nutrition or optimize processing costs, this helpful, user-friendly booklet provides a range of solutions for customers’ formulation needs.

Not only is the guide easy to use, gaining access to it from National Starch Food Innovation’s website is simple. To download a free copy of the booklet, all that’s required is your name, company name and email address. They even give you the option to opt-in to their email list.

The tools and resources don’t stop there. If there are still questions as to which ingredient to choose,National Starch Food Innovation’s technical service team, sensory experts, culinologists, nutritionists and marketers provide hands-on support to help create an ingredient system that will deliver the best results.

National Starch Food Innovation/Corn Products International is doing a great job of educating customers and giving them the tools and resources to fully benefit from their products. Are you doing something similar for your customers? We’d love to hear about the support you offer your customers and the feedback you receive. Let us know by commenting below!

You’ve Got Mail! Using Email to Promote Traditional Marketing

King Arthur Baking SheetWhen it comes to promoting a traditional media tactic, for example, a monthly subscription newsletter, one of the best ways to engage an audience is to use a new media tactic, such as an email blast.

King Arthur® Flour recently sent an email blast encouraging readers to subscribe to their 24-page bimonthly newsletter, The Baking Sheet®. By purchasing a 1-year or 2-year subscription, all six of the 2011 issues can be purchased for only $5.

The email blast features application photography, a short description that highlights the contents of The Baking Sheet newsletter and a link to a webpage where readers can purchase a subscription.

To further entice readers to subscribe to the newsletter, the email also contains a link to a blog post containing step-by-step photos and instructions for recipes to make pottage, rieska bread and horseradish sauce. If you weren’t hungry before reading the blog post, you will be afterwards.

The email blast even contains social media links to share or repost the recipes and subscription deal.

King Arthur Flour has provided a great example of how to engage clients by encouraging a subscription to traditional marketing using a modern communication tactic. We’d love to hear if you still use traditional marketing tactics with your clients, how they’ve been working for your company and what you do to promote them. Leave us a comment below!

ADM Uses Email Marketing to Sell B2B Services

ADM email

ADM, a large agricultural processor, serves as a link between farmers and consumers. The company works to process crops into food ingredients and other products.

Recently, we received an email blast promoting their ADM Investor Services. Targeting the food ingredient industry, ADM promoted their global risk management services.

This email blast informs readers of ADM’s hedging strategies that help producers and users protect themselves from price risk. Offered within the email, is a downloadable white paper that covers the strategy of managing price risk through hedging commodities.

Through the use of email marketing, ADM sells their service while positioning themselves as a big food ingredient player in the market who provides high level services for their customers.

Use Multiple Publishing Platforms to Communicate Your Message

MalaysiavirgoOur food ingredient team has previously blogged about email blasts being sent from the Sosland Publishing platform. We’d also like to showcase this Malaysia Palm Oil Solution Center email blast sent by the VIRGO Publishing platform. This e-mail, sponsored by The Malaysian Palm Oil Council, promotes a landing page (designed by VIRGO) and contains facts, links, slideshows and videos on this important vegetable oil.

While there are various food ingredient publishers out there, it’s important to remember them all when communicating your message. Using different publisher platforms when it comes time to blast your email, often means distributing your information to different and additional audiences. Reaching your readers by utilizing different e-mail lists can mean extended reach for your company. It’s just as important as utilizing different marketing tactics in order to get your message heard!

Customizing Ingredients Becomes the Norm – UPDATE

ingredientsOne of the most persistent marketing themes that we heard at food ingredient trade shows this year was some form of “we customize our ingredients to our customers’ needs.” While this is true for most big ingredient companies, it is no longer very unique and the position no longer differentiates an ingredient company from its competition. In fact, when some ingredient companies say “what makes us different is we customize our products”, the statement has little credibility with customers.

Last spring we wrote a blog post where we reviewed a featured article from FoodProcessing.com, headlined “Ingredient Suppliers Specializing in Customer Mixes of Ingredients.” We heard from quite a few different ingredient manufacturers and marketers saying that they make customized application-specific ingredients for their customers. Many used some form of customized ingredients as a banner in their trade show booths and materials. It is clearly something that customers in the industry have come to expect.

The president of a billion dollar ingredient manufacturer talked to us at length about their efforts in providing customization to their customers. For decades, this company has been blending customized product mixes for customer companies. It’s not just the product customizations that matter. Customizing services are just as important. Indeed, the major ingredient manufacturers are devoting significant resources to delivering customer-specific solutions and programs in areas ranging from transportation and delivery, to inventory control and risk management systems, to customized product packaging.

As is always the case, this marketing theme ends up being all about the customer. Thinking outside the box and delivering enterprise-wide customized services, alongside application specific customized ingredients, can deliver the kind of customer value that creates the very best marketing position.

Reprinted below is our original post on the subject. What are your thoughts on ingredient customization?

Originally posted May 4, 2011

Author: Mark Hughes

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A recent FoodProcessing.com feature was headlined “Ingredient Suppliers Specializing in Custom Mixes of Ingredients.” The article described how many ingredient suppliers have begun to focus on creating customized ingredient blends and mixes for specific customer applications. We have seen and heard the same message from the ingredient manufacturers at the major trade shows over the last few months. Nearly every ingredient company we’ve talked to this year has touted the fact that they make customized application-specific ingredients for their customers, as if this made them unique or differentiated them from other ingredient marketers.

In fact, being able to provide customized ingredient products has become the expected norm in food manufacturing channels. Customer companies are demanding more support from their suppliers, and want resources and information that can help their products succeed. Ingredient suppliers are responding with marketing with an increased focus on their capabilities to provide application-specific ingredient products, mixes and blends.

“Custom ingredients” has almost become a generic term in the industry. Many ingredient suppliers have adopted the term into their corporate name, as well as their marketing. An example is Grande Custom Ingredients Group.

Many ingredient companies are focusing their customization message on individual food channels and category-specific applications, like dairy products. MCT Dairies offers formulated dairy and specialty ingredients, customized for manufacturing customers.

Several ingredient companies are using their customization capabilities to get customer R&D, product development and culinary executives engaged in working with their products. Companies are offering assistance and new online tools to help customers formulate custom ingredients for their specific product applications. Tate & Lyle has launched a new site, called “Your Food Systems,” that provides customers with resources to help support customization.

The focus on customization of ingredients will always be an important marketing message for food ingredient companies. Engagement with R&D and marketing departments will continue to be a key to long-term ingredient sales.

Watson Uses Email Blast to Introduce New Product Line

e-mail-headerWe recently received an email blast from Watson, Inc., promoting their new gluten-free ingredients product line.

The email blast opens by asking the audience to consider Watson as their gluten-free problem solver, offering various mixes for bread and muffin products, superior flavor and texture, technical assistance and product innovation, as well as alternatives to the ordinary.

Specifically, this email blast focuses on Watson’s gluteNONE™ product line, showcasing their bread and muffin mixes. With nice photography and strong, supportive bullet points for each gluteNONE™ mix offering, the reader learns that each mix meets celiac associations’ requirements, is adaptable to various types of bread products, and requires that very few additional ingredients be added to achieve the finished creation.

Also included in the email blast is clear, client-to-company contact information, promising users that Watson will aid your company in cross-contamination issues, labeling, and even marketing strategies. With links to their Twitter feed and “About Us” section of their website, Watson makes it easy for an interested prospect to take the next step. You can even reply to the email blast for more information or to request a sample.

Email blasts such as this one, are great examples of promoting a product successfully. This tactic allows Watson’s new product introduction to land in the email inboxes of prospective clients and current customers. Email blasts are a very successful way to generate new sales leads, increase product awareness, and by requesting a sample offer—allow the sales team to follow-up with closely targeted messages to those interested customers.

Celebrity Chef Engages Customers for Sunkist

Celebrity chefs are everywhere these days. From the crowded Internet to the televised food networks, to our book stores and kitchens, innovative chefs with great stories to tell continue to capture the attention of all of us who work in the food business. And well they should with all they bring in terms of culinary knowledge and experiences, as well as creativity and innovative talent.

Leading chef and culinary stars have become more and more engaged in the business of marketing commercial brands in the food ingredient channels and helping ingredient marketers present their products to their customer companies. Chefs are used to create, prepare and present finished applications that utilize the marketer’s ingredient and showcase its benefits for customer products. R&D, food science and new product developers from customer enterprises are drawn to the chefs for their applications and the insights.

IMAG0083A great example of this was on display at the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) conference and expo in Monterey this summer. Celebrity Chef Robert Danhi’s appearance at the Sunkist booth created a lot of buzz on the trade show floor. Chef Danhi is well known with his involvement on the board of directors for the Research Chef’s Association (RCA) and for his travels across Asia searching out great local foods.

Chef Danhi created, prepared and served Grilled Sunkist Lemon Planks, an intriguing new use of sliced lemons grilled and presented with salmon, green tea and jasmine oils. Not only did it taste great, but it also led to engaged conversations with Sunkist customers and prospects on new and different ways to utilize lemons in their products and applications. Those types of engaged conversations will always lead to more sales for Sunkist.

Expect to see even more celebrity chefs working with the leading ingredient companies over the next year.  It should make for some really terrific new samples at the food trade shows, as well as some exciting new products.

 

Social Media for Food Ingredient Marketers

Over the past year, we have seen more and more food manufacturers and ingredient marketers starting to use social media.  In fact, we have connected online with hundreds of food industry executives, marketers, R&D professionals, research chefs and innovative culinary types through sites like LinkedIn and Twitter.  And yet we still hear from many food ingredient companies that they are hesitant to get started in social media and have concerns about how to use social media sites and tools.

The-Thank-You-EconomyIn his wonderful book on social media interaction, “The Thank You Economy,” Gary Vaynerchuk addresses many of these concerns head-on.  Here is our take on some of the more relevant concerns for food marketers.

Are you concerned that someone in the B2B space is never going to interact with you online? Why not? They are still human beings—with the desire for emotional connections, strong relationships and quality engagement. Business transactions are ultimately about goodwill and trust. And social media is one of the best channels to display this. Your customers have smart phones, and personal Twitter and Facebook pages. So why wouldn’t they interact with you online?

Are you stuck because your boss needs to know the ROI and you aren’t able to measure this? Consider this: can you measure the ROI of a handshake, of a first impression, of an employee who went out of his/her way to make something right for a customer? No, but do you expect this level of interaction to take place in your business? Of course!

Are you concerned that you don’t have the time to manage or monitor it?  Think about how you are currently allocating your resources.  Can you identify somewhere you aren’t spending your money wisely?  Consider taking that money and hiring a firm like Anderson Partners to help you with strategy and execution.

Ultimately, you can’t afford not to invest in a social media strategy. The benefits may not be noticed immediately but will be noticed long term; you will have greater brand awareness, stronger brand loyalty, increased word of mouth, improved understanding of your customer needs and direct access to customer feedback. Plus, it’s your customer’s access to the authentic you. Get out there and get started already.

LinkedIn Groups Offer Industry Networking

imagesLinkedIn groups are typically created in an effort to provide a forum for like-minded people to interact and network. What if an ingredient company created a group open to the public that was specific to its company (products/services) or was specific to a product category (like flour)? I haven’t seen any companies taking this approach, but I think it’s a great opportunity.

This is the idea behind our successful LinkedIn group, Food Ingredient Marketing Communications (FIMC). This group has attracted hundreds of industry professionals, including senior marketing executives, R&D leaders and culinary innovators.

The content for these groups is endless. Post about new product introductions, recipe and application ideas, how to address technical issues, benefits of specific ingredients, etc. At first the group may be more of a push strategy, but eventually, as potential customers join the group your customers will start to participate in the conversation. Ideally they would post on a problem they’ve been experiencing, an ingredient they’ve been looking for, an application solution they’ve been missing, etc.

Not only will you build a database of quality potential customers you will be able to respond to them one-on-one, make an acquaintance and hopefully create some business. Like any social media approach ROI will not be immediate. By addressing your audiences’ needs, you prove to them that you are transparent and reachable. And you will probably learn something you never knew about your product/service, allowing you to either come up with something even better or decide to fix the issue.

New Ingredients Web Portal Has Social Connections

seewhatsworking2Anderson Partners Food Ingredients has launched a new web portal that connects online industry content with rich social media connections and delivers a valuable new resource for food ingredient marketing executives. With both standard and mobile versions, the portal provides a convenient way to access ingredient news, trends and discussions—all in one place.

We created our first portal as a landing page to support a QR-code promotion that we launched at IFT 2011. The response was very positive, so we built the new portal to provide our clients and our industry friends with even better access to our content.

The industry news feeds follow all the biggest food manufacturing customer companies. Our blog tracks important trends, and features examples of recent marketing communication programs from the major ingredient suppliers. Social media channels offer robust discussions with marketing executives, R&D leaders and culinary innovators.

The portal links multiple platforms together. There are two Twitter feeds, one from @APFI that features industry news, while @markhughesfood offers trends and commentary. Our LinkedIn discussion group Food Ingredient Marketing Communications (FIMC) connects to hundreds of industry executives. The main website provides a library of industry best practices and examples. Our goal is to provide a rich resource that ingredient marketers can use to make their programs work even better.

Take a look and let us know what you think. You can access the portal at http://www.andersonpartners.com/seewhatsworking/.

New Functional Egg Site Showcases Videos

FunctionalEggHome2High five to the American Egg Board and Shelly McKee, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Poultry Science at Auburn University, their new website found at functionalegg.org! This website features six videos for food formulators that highlight the functional properties of egg products, including aeration, coagulation, emulsification, foaming and crystallization control. Videos can be such an engaging and informative tool in your marketing mix, and they are often overlooked. Which is why I’m excited to see a food ingredient company utilizing them.

Here is my honest analysis of the site.

Positives:

  • Great use of a mini-website to distribute a targeted message.
  • The site is very clean, easy to follow and not bombarded with text.
  • The video content itself is great, with great intent.
  • Good production quality.
  • Good use of quick links back to the main site for additional information.

Opportunities:

  • Ms. McKee, the narrator of the videos, appears stiff, as if she is reading from a monitor. This could be addressed by giving her bullet points to speak from as opposed to a script to follow.
  • To break up the monotony of having the camera on one person narrating, work in more demonstrations, graphics or video with voiceover, or consider adding another personality.
  • Some of these videos are 8-10 minutes long. It’s hard to hold someone’s attention for that long through an online video. I’d recommend 5 minutes or less.

According to the website there are six more videos on the functionality of eggs that are coming soon! That’s exciting news and great for food technologists; hopefully, the American Egg Board will consider ways to make these videos even more engaging.

Because Feeling is Believing

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The Ginger People have created a blog, using WordPress, that is titled GingerpediaThis blog is very specific to the one ingredient it produces—ginger. The blog covers topics on ginger supply, applications, ingredients and industry trends. It targets food service operators, manufacturers and development professionals.

The idea of a blog seems to scare a lot of ingredient manufacturers only because they don’t think that they can find the time to write. But if you weigh the time spent against the value you will receive, it’s a tactic worth considering. Any ingredient company can have a blog, just like this, with a similar focus. Blogs (and other social media tools) show a softer side of a company. They show the human side. Sometimes we forget that people do business with people they like. Just like with a consumer brand, your company should be building emotional connections with those you interact with at every touch point. Try to get into their hearts and minds. If you can show you have a personality and have great ideas, you instantly qualify yourself as someone a prospect could do business with.

With a plan and schedule in place that identifies topics to cover, who can write them and when they should post, a blog is definitely doable. Believe me. Here at Anderson Partners Food Ingredients, we went through the same conversations, decided to dive in and it has been one of our most successful tactics to date. You’re reading our blog now.

King Arthur Flour Gets Engagement

This post was originally going to be about King Arthur’s new “Our Farmers” videos. But after I watched the videos, I toured the website further and the post has taken a different turn. King Arthur is doing some really great things in terms of engagement, and I’d like to touch on a few of those.

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Videos
King Arthur recently launched videos covering the following topics: Families, Life of a Farmer, Preserving the Land and the King Arthur Flour (KAF) Connection. Each topic category has an all- encompassing recap video and individual family farmer video testimonials. The production quality of these videos is great. KAF effortlessly captures the emotion of the farmers and the connection that they have to their livelihood. The videos are very honest and nonscripted. The charm of the videos remains intact because of KAF’s tasteful choice to have minimal branding in the lower right corner.

My one criticism would be that had I not seen this link in a press release I’m not sure I could find the videos on the website. My personal opinion is that they should be highlighted on the homepage.

Community
KAF has built its own social network on its website, and people are actually participating in it. Bakers are posting recipes using KAF flour, problems they are experiencing while baking, questions on tips and much more. To post comments, users sign in with their account that they set up to receive email blasts from KAF. If users don’t have an account, they can create one. What a smart way for KAF to capture a database of potential customers.

Blog
The blog features awesome food photography and a clean design. I don’t even bake, but it makes me want to because of the food shots alone. The tone is conversational and includes recommendations on recipes to try. Each post actually shows, through photography, the step by step process that the recipe calls for.

Our Flours
The product pages titled “Our Flours” also use enticing food photography but go a step further by pulling in customer testimonials from posts in the community forum. Is there any better way to sell a product than to have a positive customer endorsement? Genius!

I’d have to say my KAF video experience took a turn for the better, and KAF’s website provided a fresh look at how to be more engaging. If you haven’t noticed a theme lately with my posts let me reiterate … IT’S ALL ABOUT ENGAGEMENT.

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