Businesses should also communicate the specific health-related benefits of baked goods to cultivate credibility, whether it be through the company itself or from the help of reputable influencers.
According to research by Mintel, Americans appear to be largely distrusting of food brands, as only 14% believe regulatory approval indicates a food is healthy, and just 16% trust the claims on food and beverage packages.
“There is a lot to explain to consumers, and I think they want to be romanticized a little bit about why they need nutritious foods,” said Lisa Hansen, vice-president, McDill Associates, a Soquel, Calif.-based marketing firm. “They need to be reminded of this lifestyle they are striving to fit into or who they are trying to be like.”
From providing shoppers with information on the benefits of fiber through a social media campaign or showing them how to make a sandwich packed with whole grains with the help of a YouTube star, this shift toward better-for-you eating presents many opportunities for bakers to cast themselves as segment leaders by connecting the dots and filling in dietary gaps.
Before reaching out to shoppers, Michael Rosenberg, vice-president, strategy, at McDill Associates, urged baking manufacturers to create a story that connects your brand to shoppers’ interests and can build over time.
“It’s important to get that narrative down,” Mr. Rosenberg said. “Start with transparency and address the ingredients in the box to make sure it’s aligned with consumer expectations and then communicate that throughout your branding.”
Having a genuine origin story that connects with consumers improves a brand’s authenticity and creates a loyal base that believes in a brand and will share the benefits of it with others.
Helping consumers make informed choices allows brands to address different health needs and develop a reputation as a trusted source for that particular diet. Even better, the brand can become the go-to choice for healthy eating because its products and reputation are reliable.
The American Bakers Association (A.B.A.) has stepped up its social media efforts by providing informative messages about whole grains and enriched grains and capitalizing on causes close to consumers. During National Bread Month and National Nutrition Month, the A.B.A. pushed messaging on whole grains’ benefits as well as ways to incorporate grains into diets with interesting and economical recipes.
“I think sometimes consumers lose track of the important role grain foods have historically played for Americans,” said Lee Sanders, senior vice-president of government relations and public affairs, A.B.A. “It’s something we try to remind them of and give them facts because there is a lot of misinformation out there.”
Using content marketing, Pamela’s Products, Ukiah, Calif., connects with consumers. Its robust web site full of recipes and video demonstrations shows how to make delicious and healthy gluten-free baked goods using its products. By providing subject matter geared toward a specific diet, Pamela’s strives to become an accessible and reliable reference for those seeking how to incorporate gluten-free products into their diets.
For companies looking to increase brand awareness and integrity through its customer base, an ambassador program can be established. Brands like Lenny and Larry’s, Panorama City, Calif., rely on brand ambassadors to share the benefits of its protein-packed baked goods. Through its program, which has no fee to join or requirement to sell, the company rewards ambassadors for spreading the word through tracking links or discount codes that can be shared on social media and webs ites. Rewards include a 10% commission and up to a $2,000 yearly bonus.
“When it comes to brand ambassadors, I think consumers want to hear from other consumers like them and not just the brand itself on why it’s healthy or delicious,” Ms. Hansen said. “Ideally, the goal is to have brand ambassadors fielding a lot of that stress for you.”
Working with bloggers and social media influencers is another way to improve brand trustworthiness. According to the “2017 Global Consumer Executive Top of Mind Survey” by CGF, 82% of consumers would follow a recommendation made by a social media micro-influencer. In some cases, influencers have as much say in defining the perception of a brand as the company itself.
Chicago-based RX Bar recruited CrossFit athlete Camille Leblanc-Bazinet to promote the snack bar’s benefits. Through a video series on its web site and images on Ms. Leblanc-Bazinet’s Instagram, the brand leveraged the star’s fan base to promote its products and establish them as a healthy snacking option.
Packaging also helps communicate the dietary benefits. With the F.D.A. requiring baking companies to change nutrition labels, brands can take the opportunity to revamp their look and zone-in on health claims that matter to Americans.
“It comes down to the hierarchy of messaging,” Ms. Hansen said. “Oftentimes brands don’t want to hear it, but sometimes their logo doesn’t need to be the biggest thing on the package. Make the health benefit bigger and the logo smaller.”
She recommended snack makers dial in on the hierarchy and find unique differentiators instead of listing off every benefit. There should be a balance of imagery and words that grab consumers and tell them what they need. Companies should also consider consumer testing that can be done on-line in a cost- and time-efficient manner. Through testing messages or designs, businesses can find out how they react and purchasing intent. That valuable information can then be passed on to sellers.
“Retailers are leaning more and more on brands to do that homework and explain to them why the higher protein message is bigger than low-sugar message,” Ms. Hansen said. “Anytime a brand can offer those data points, it can make the case that much easier.”