I found myself nodding furiously as I read a recent New York Times article about how consumers are successfully pressuring food companies to make changes to their products, as it affirms so many of the findings in our own Food 2020 research. In particular, it shows how Food eVangelists – a term we coined to describe a growing and powerful segment of the global population who take it upon themselves to learn about food issues and influence others – are making a mark on the food industry and they are not about to stop.
Food eVangelists have spoken and they are getting the attention of food companies and brands around the world. But so far we’ve yet to see many stories of premier brands or businesses that have proactively sought input and insights from consumers about their product, engaged them in a dialogue, and implemented significant changes as a result. More common is that companies take a ‘wait and see’ approach and are now the centerpieces of public pressure articles like this one.
What we’re seeing today is a sea change in the relationship between food companies and the consuming public. This article clearly illustrates that consumers have the control and they are just beginning to exercise their power. Time will only intensify their scrutiny. No company, no brand, no ingredient or process can escape their pressures. It’s just a matter of time.
The true leaders in the food industry are working to take this opportunity to totally re-imagine their relationships with consumers and how they can reorganize and redeploy resources to embrace and engage consumers as stakeholders. We believe it is those companies that will set the example for others and emerge as the winners in the industry.