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Hey food industry marketers — are you truly capitalizing on ‘Hibernating Households’?

Photos by Kelli Clifford

Photos by Kelli Clifford

Recently, winter weather across the U.S. has been extreme.  And when snow, ice and subzero temps hit, a lot of people are homebound…sometimes for days.

But rather than focus on the negative effects, let’s think about these “Hibernating Households” from a positive (marketing-minded) viewpoint.

Hibernating households want something to do — great news for Netflix and other instant home entertainment services.

Hibernating households need food. Particularly meals that can be made with what’s on hand and with a little luck, still offer their palates some variety – this presents a great opportunity for food marketers like you.

Based on recent findings from Erickson Research’s Food & Beverage Trends Study, it’s likely that many consumers could use your help when the weather puts a wrench in their food/meal prep behaviors.

Here’s why…

  • Less than 50% of consumers claim they…
    • keep cooking staples on hand
    • have ‘standby’ meals they prepare often
  • Over 60% believe they’re not able to whip up a meal in a moment’s notice
  • Typically, about 75% do not plan their meals for the week

So, when these consumers are feeling frazzled (trying to stock up smartly, before the storm hits) or bored and hungry (stuck at home in the aftermath)…what are you doing to help them out?

In other words, how can you tailor your consumer communications to be more timely and relevant?

Here are some ideas:

  1. Create a list of “stock-up” food items they should always have on hand
  2. Offer both healthy and indulgent meal ideas (including one-pot preparation) using stock-up items
  3. Feature recipes that are customized to fit typical household sizes (i.e. individual, two people, four to six people) or household compositions (i.e. adults, kids, teens or combinations)
  4. Suggest ingredient or recipe “substitutes” (i.e. what if eggs and milk are not available?)
  5. Showcase recipes that are fun to make — include a ‘challenge’ or game-like activity for households with 2+ members
  6. Offer meal plans with main dishes/ingredients that can be used for multiple meals (i.e. a roasted chicken recipe with leftovers that can also be used to make chicken salad and soup) Get creative.

And most importantly, keep it simple.

According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, people are spending a lot of time on social media, sharing their thoughts on this extreme weather. So why not get in on the stories and offer your food-related tips and recipes on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest?


Why connecting with B2B users = capturing more B2B buyers

green forceAs B2B marketers well know, often their buyer is not the end user.

And while B2B marketers can easily communicate with their direct buyers, connecting to end users is more tricky.  In fact, many are lacking good information about exactly who their users are.

That’s because many B2B companies are either…

  • selling to “gatekeeper” departments (purchasing , IT, etc.) who often aren’t actually using the product themselves
  • dealing with distributors/resellers who actively obstruct access to end users for fear of being cut out of the supply chain

This truly limits B2B marketers’ knowledge of user needs and preferences.  As a result, products and services can miss the mark.  This often leads end users to request that buyers “purchase from someone else next time.”

“Someone else,” as in not you.

Investing extra effort and money in understanding your end users pays off in several ways.   Most notably…

  1. Developing market offerings that work for the people who use them — leading to better word-of-mouth and pull demand through the channel.
  2. Sharing your understanding of the end user can become a vehicle to strengthen relationships with your best channel partners.
  3. Understanding the needs and challenges of the user can uncover opportunities you would never find if you only talk to the buyers.

With the increasing adoption of social media in B2B, users have a bigger, more public platform than ever to praise or pan your products and services.  And since we know that B2B buyers extensively use referral and 3rd party opinions to filter suppliers before they ever get in touch with a salesperson, not focusing on the end user can eliminate you from consideration before you ever have a chance to make your case.

Other trends, like BYOD, will only increase the influence end users have on the decisions of B2B buyers.  The time to invest in understanding and relationship building with B2B users is now.

Your knowledge of the end user will help greatly with your buyer.  After all, no purchase decision-maker at a company wants to deal with employees who are unhappy with a decision they made.  And distributors, first and foremost, want to stock things that people are going to buy.

So, when was the last time you really talked to your end users?  If you can’t immediately answer that question, it’s time to start doing things differently.

Why Native Foods Has Mad (Social Media) Skills

In a recent post, I discussed why social media is important for restaurants.  I mentioned companies — like Taco Bell and Red Lobster — that realize the marketing potential of social media and how they’re using it to their advantage.

The other day I came across this Facebook post from Native Foods Cafe — yet another example of a restaurant putting social media to good use.

Caption reads: “CONTEST!! Our talented Chef Alex created a delicious concoction of mushrooms, Native chicken, roasted red peppers and herbs and spices wrapped in vibrant collard greens. We are asking our friends to help us name this dish, the winner will receive a $25 Native Foods gift card, contest ends Saturday at noon. Happy naming!”

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There are so many things I love about this.  In no particular order, here’s what I think really works…

  • Describing their customers as ‘friends’ — creates an intimacy and feeling of community rather than the detached feeling of marketing to the masses
  • Making it about the consumer and not Native Foods — fans get to demonstrate their creativity and feel like their opinion really matters
  • Asking their brand enthusiasts to name the product for them – freeing up Native Foods’ internal resources/marketing team and probably their budget too
  • Seizing an opportunity to offer a product  in the language of their consumer — many companies don’t ask, try to brainstorm internally and guess the vernacular of their market (unfortunately, quite often, corporate category-speak doesn’t feel authentic to the consumer and does an inferior job of telling them what the product actually is)
  • Showcasing a new item in an interactive forum and building interest in it (which supports likelihood to try it)
  • Keeping customers engaged and thinking about the Native Foods brand — staying relevant, in a sea of choices, is an ongoing challenge for most marketers
  • Offering fans an incentive that is highly desirable and relevant to them (restaurant gift card) – and that gets customers into their store, trying their products…with very little cost to Native Foods

There are probably more benefits (feel free to post them below in the comments section) but these are the ones that stood out to me.  I will continue to keep an eye out for you restaurant marketers out there.  Stay tuned for more helpful insights and trend scouting from your friends at Erickson Research.

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