The grain-based foods industry is profoundly impacted by misinformation about food and health, said Vance Crowe, communications consultant, during his Fresh Take Talk, “Anti-Grain Tribes: Who They Are & How to Reach Them.” This is not news to the baking industry, but Mr. Crowe offered new insights into how the industry can reach out to consumers antagonistic toward grains and carbs.
While the instinct to combat misinformation is a broad-scope education campaign, Mr. Crowe invited the industry to address consumers in their tribes rather than as a general population. Citing research by MIT Media Lab research scientist Joscha Bach, PhD, Mr. Crowe explained that humans are designed to get along with their tribe and accept opinions preserving their place in those tribes.
“Find tribes with incorrect beliefs who would benefit from the correct information,” he said. “Flip these tribes, and they will become your biggest advocates. Give them a new, more accurate story that will improve their lives, and they will love you for that.”
However, simply providing anti-grain tribes with facts isn’t enough. When an expert comes along with a correction, people can overreact because to them, the expert isn’t attacking the false statement but the tribe, Mr. Crowe explained. “The key is to focus on what’s truly fascinating about your industry,” he said. “Share stories that others can and will repeat because they are so fascinating.”
For example, when Mr. Crowe is asked about the evils of GMOs, he will answer with the story of how broccoli was discovered. By telling a fascinating story, related to GMOs, the person is disarmed and understands their own lack of knowledge. “You want people to loosen their grip on this misinformation,” he said. “You don’t want to embarrass them in front of their tribe.” The industry can avoid that pitfall by showing these anti-grain tribes that they are truly listening.
Mr. Crowe also encouraged the industry to take chances. Rather than aiming for a spot on CNN, go to Reddit threads or podcasts that these anti-grain tribes pay attention to. “That’s where you’ll find the dedicated people who will spread your message for you,” he said.