Food Business Almanac: Major trends for 2014

By on April 28, 2014

NCDA&CS food business specialist Annette Dunlap offers resources that agribusiness owners and food entrepreneurs can use to grow and manage their business. Annette is available for free one-on-one consultations and can assist business owners with financial and market planning through the agribusiness development section. She can be reached at annette.dunlap@ncagr.gov.

Today, we’ll look at three major trends for food businesses in 2014:

  1. The move to mobile
  2. The growth of social media
  3. The push for fresh and simple ingredients

More than 60 percent of the U.S. population owns a smartphone, and 78 percent of those owners use their smartphones to make buying decisions. They search for retailers, compare prices and find products.

This means that more than three-fourths of today’s shoppers have already made their buying decisions before they come into the store. Your challenge, as a food business, is to get your customers and your prospects to make a decision to buy your product before they go shopping.

One of the best ways to build that customer commitment is through social media. Facebook has become the new website. Your business presence on Facebook conveys the legitimacy of your business. It’s a way for customers to find you and learn more about your product. Customers are more likely to look for your Facebook page than they are for your website.

Twitter is quickly becoming a Facebook look-alike, and now they have also added advertising. The key difference between a Facebook presence and a Twitter presence is immediacy. Twitter is great when you are getting ready to do a store demo or have a special announcement. Content posted to Facebook, on the other hand, has a slightly longer shelf life — between a few days and a week.

When creating your social media strategy, don’t forget Pinterest. Pinterest is a perfect social media site for food because it’s so visual. And, it’s a site that women love. Encourage your customers to pin their favorite picture of themselves buying or using your product. If there’s one place where the old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” fits, it’s with Pinterest.

That gets us to our last point, what are customers looking for? The trend is for fresh and simple. Fresh ingredients. Words they can pronounce on the label. Be sure to push the freshness of your product. If you source your ingredients locally, tout that fact. Also, be sure to market the simplicity of your recipe (i.e. no preservatives).

In conclusion, you need to embrace new technologies and tastes to reach your customers. Notice the move to mobile, the continued growth in social media, and the trend for fresh and simple ingredients. These are the hot trends for 2014.

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