Food and beverage industry is in the spotlight. Health conscious consumers want greater transparency of sources ang processes. At the same time the environmental impact of the industry raises attention. Meanwhile the F&B industry changes rapidly, and online retail gains greater dominance. F&B marketers face difficult times. Edward Hoffman, Senior Vice Preseident of Minneapolis based F&B specialist comms agency Padilla has answered IdeaBank’s questions.
What are the most important trends in food/beverage communication these days?
From a communications perspective, the most significant trends we’re seeing is the public expectation of greater transparency and authenticity from its food sources as well as consumer-driven brand building. Consumers want to know everything about what they eat and drink – from the origin of seeds and the quality of animal feed to the manufacturing process and environmental impact. As a result, there is tremendous focus on fewer and familiar ingredients in foodstuffs that are as minimally processed as possible. And being very open about it with consumers, inviting them to experience the brand or company from the inside out. Because of these high expectations and rigid demands, consumers feel more empowered and are certainly enabled to hold companies accountable. There are numerous examples of large companies bowing to the pressue of vocal consumers to make changes in product formulations, take a stand on social issues or make a commitment to ”do better”. As a result, brands are increasingly made (or damaged) by how consumers engage with them.
What are the most important platforms for food/beverage communicaton?
Which are the major challenges in the communication activities in this industry?
At Padilla, we very much take a ”digital at the core” approach to our programming because it’s imperative to reach the right consumer, at the right time, in the right media with the right message. We use a wide range of tactical programming, all of which is directly informed by the research and insights used to understand the market dyanmics and target audience. And today, we’re using more data analytics than ever before to deepen our knowledge, sharpen our programming and improve our results. But to directly answer your question, we’re currently doing a ton of work with influencres, social media activations and paid digital engagement because of the exceptional and real-time analytics available to us. These tools allow us to make dynamic programming changes, capitalize on trends and show business impact. In Food + Beverage, we’ve seen a resurgence of media relations outreach as clients increasing seek that third-party, unbiased endorsement from opinion leaders. Lastly, I’d be remiss if I didn’t end by saying that all of this programming—whatever the tactical mix may be—falls under a campaign that’s developed by our award-winning, in-house Creative team.
Is press release still a relevant means of communication in this sector?
Multi-media press releases continue to be vital in our business. Outlining the background and facts, providing the visual assets and creating a concise and relevant story for each journalist is expected. However, having strong relationships with reporters are even more important in the crowded, non-stop media landscape.
Has video content played down press releases and written content?
I wouldn’t say video has diminished press releases and written content, but rather enhanced these two tactics. We are also doing a lot more video content in social activations, with influencers and our digital advertising. Consumers are looking for experiences—both online and offline—and video is a powerful tool to give consumers what they want in a matter of seconds. It’s also more shareable for fans and followers who heighten the experience with their words when passing along video content.
You are a seasoned professional. What are the major changes in our industry you have seen in your career?
I’ve spent my 25-year career in food marketing, and there have been many exciting evolutions and revolutions in this time. It’s why i’ve stayed in the business for so long—it’s always changing, which makes it exciting for me. But the explosion of e-commerce we’re seeing in the U.S. food industry right now is rapidly and radically changing the game for everyone—retailers, brands, commodity board and consumers—and creating new industries to support this change. Twenty-percent of grocery sales will be purchased online wiithin the next five years—amazing!
Edward Hoffman, Senior Vice President
Ed leads the Food+Beverage sector for the agency. A food industry specialist, he has spent nearly 25 years in strategic marketing communications. His diverse background spans multiple disciplines and spans all channels of the industry (retail, foodservice, ingredient). He’s helped entrepreneurs, emerging companies and category challengers as well as worked with many recognized organizations—from Almond Board of California and Hass Avocado Board to ConAgra and Kikkoman. His award-winning work has quantifiably increased business for numerous clients.
Padilla is an independently operated, globally resourced public relations and communication company with offices across the United States. The agency builds, grows and protects brands and reputations worldwide by creating purposeful connections with the people who matter most through public relations, advertising, digital and social marketing, investor relations and brand strategy. Padilla includes the brand consultancy of Joe Smith, the food and nutrition experts at FoodMinds, and the research authorities at SMS Research Advisors. Clients include 3M, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, Cargill Animal Nutrition, Hass Avocado Board, Mayo Clinic, Prosciutto di Parma, Rockwell Automation, Sanofi Pasteur, U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council and Welch’s. Padilla is an AVENIR GLOBAL company and is a founding member of the Worldcom Public Relations Group, a partnership of 132 independently owned partner offices in 115 cities on six continents. Connect with purpose at PadillaCo.com.