Brand marketing is changing in 2022 – and this applies to every category under the sun. In this post, we’ll be showcasing a category that touches every consumer at some point – food. We’ll share five ways that a handful of popular food brands are adapting their marketing to accommodate shifting needs – and winning market share in the process.
The top trends we have for you come to us from both major, established names and a couple of new upstarts on the block. We’ll explore how each is driving innovation and connecting with consumers.
- Impossible Foods educating audiences on Tik Tok
- AppHarvest solves ethical food sourcing
- Recess revamps sparkling water
- Atomo rethinks coffee from the ground up
- Gotham Greens brings food branding to the produce aisle
Food Brands Standing Out from the Crowd
What does it take for a food brand to stand out these days? A good bit, as the competition online is fierce thanks to COVID. Accelerated digital transformation has crowded the online landscape, but it has also driven innovation.
Visual appeal, taste, and texture are pushing plant-based options far past burger substitutes. And what’s driving the charge? Gen Z. Brands are well aware of Zoomers’ growing buying power and are investing their R&D capital towards giving them more of what they want. They’re voting with their dollars for ethically sourced, sustainable food products that offer high nutritional value. And they want it from brands who mirror their concern for the planet’s welfare.
Another trend that is growing in prevalence is food and beverages with increased function. Whether it’s an additive or supplement to elevate mood, energy levels, boost the immune system, or promote gut health, consumers are all about it. But 2022 has more in store for brands to consider.
Supply chain disruptions have impacted brands around the globe, and those in the food industry aren’t exempt. Adding to these frustrations, consumers’ work/life balances are in a state of flux as more employees return to the office. As such, private label and value brands will likely gain ground on premium product offerings in the food category – a reversal of last year’s buying habits.
Consumers spent more on top names when life centered around the home. However, with a return to work and dining out, they’re likely to cut costs in the pantry – especially in light of rising inflation.
Another area to watch from the food branding perspective is increased branding in the produce department and seafood case. These areas have long been the realm of primarily un-branded products within the grocery store. Boomers and Gen X are accustomed to this and don’t seem to mind as much, but Millennials and Gen X are more apt to reach for branded produce than their predecessors. Branding these items pays dividends, as research shows 68% of consumers will pay more for branded produce.
All these trends and the subsequent shifts in consumer behavior that go with them need to be accounted for in your food branding and marketing. Consumer insights derived from social listening will keep you focused on what’s top of mind with your audience, so you’re not left speaking to an empty room. This is critical – you can see below that the food sustainability conversation is mainly positive. The food branding discussion? Not so much.
This is the disconnect that food brands need to navigate with consumers – or risk appearing inauthentic. And one never wants that! We can show you how to better understand what consumers want, as it will be different for each brand. Let’s look at a few brands hitting the mark with their food branding online.
1. Impossible Foods Educating Audiences on Tik Tok
One look in your grocer’s plant-based meat section tells you we’ve come a long way from the tasteless veggie burgers of yore. Impossible Foods set one of the cornerstones in the plant-based meat revolution with their popular Impossible Burger.
Demand remains high, spurring a flurry of innovation in the space. Plant-based meat alternative brands are doubling down on development to produce products as close to the real thing as possible. Chicken nuggets are the second wave of products in the category that are taking the world by storm – and Impossible Foods is right in the thick of the action.
Not only are they one of the leading brands in the plant-based meat category, but they also know who their audience is. Not every brand has bothered to market themselves on Tik Tok, but Impossible Foods has embraced the platform in pursuit of winning over Gen Z – and selling them on ‘chicken’ nuggets.
@impossiblefoods And on #ChickenNuggetDay, we throw it down. #ImpossibleNugget ♬ Change My Mind – Clutch
2. AppHarvest Solves Ethical Food Sourcing
Research by EIT Food found that 78% of 18-24 year olds believe urgent action is necessary to overhaul food production and create a more sustainable solution. The study found that this age demographic leans heavily (74%) in favor of locally produced fruit and vegetable farming as a sustainable solution versus imports. Brands like AppHarvest are providing the solutions like-minded consumers are looking for.
Located in the central Appalachia region of Kentucky, AppHarvest grows produce in containers and greenhouses protected from the elements using 90% less water. Not only that, but they are also within a day’s drive of all their retailers, including Kroger and Wendy’s, which ensures it’s a short road trip from farm to table. They’ve got their food branding dialed in and are sharing their wins on Instagram.
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3. Recess Revamps Sparkling Water
Consumers are increasingly reaching for foods and beverages with purpose in mind. As such, brands are responding by infusing their offerings with everything from probiotics to mega doses of vitamin C
Sparkling water manufacturer Recess aims to be the beverage brand consumers reach for to ease tension and relax their minds. With offerings infused with broad-spectrum hemp, ginseng, L-theanine, and lemon balm, Recess’s line of sparkling water fits the bill for thirsty consumers looking for a mood lift. With minimalist packaging and a subdued color palette, Recess is taking their unique take on hydration, and their cheeky marketing style, to Tik Tok.
@takearecess it’s a simple question #TakeARecess #LiveLaughLove #ImObsessed #WorkLife #PopCulture ♬ original sound – Tik Toker
4. Atomo Rethinks Coffee from the Ground Up
Many brands are revamping how they approach the sustainability problem. However, not many have gotten as creative as Atomo. They’ve created what they call molecular coffee, a bean-free alternative to your morning joe made from a proprietary blend of sustainably sourced, plant-based ingredients. And their R&D department has been hard at work over the past several years to make it look, smell, feel, and taste like the real thing. Atomo’s slogan is “every sip saves the planet,” and they’re taking their innovative approach to social media to raise awareness.
5. Gotham Greens Brings Food Branding to the Produce Aisle
Gotham Greens is another brand reimagining food branding beginning with the farm. Similar to AppHarvest, their greenhouse-grown produce takes the farm close to the urban areas it serves, all while using 95% less water and 97% less land than conventional farms.
One of the pioneers of urban farming, Gotham Greens built their first commercial rooftop greenhouse facility in Brooklyn back in 2011. Since then, they’ve expanded across the US while taking food branding to the produce aisle in the process. After all, since they’ve gone to great lengths to deliver fresh produce year-round – it doesn’t hurt to add some aesthetically pleasing packaging to ensure shoppers know who they are. Not only have they branded the produce department, but the business model also minimizes the complexity of their supply chain – a win on two fronts!
Communicating in Tandem with Consumer Values
The trends we’ve discussed here represent the top movements in food branding for 2022. However, change is always around the corner, so social listening is your best bet to find and capitalize on white space in your category.
That’s because consumer values play a huge role in purchase decisions, and they talk all about these principles online. For example, here is a data visualization in Quid Social of the top clusters in the sustainable food branding conversation over the past three months:
As more brands implement solutions and new problems arise, this conversation will shift. Staying on top of these changes will ensure your marketing strategy around your food branding stays relevant.
Regardless, keeping your focus on the top topics of the food conversation will ensure your brand stays in bounds. And this is true for any industry regarding the general sustainability trend. It’s a huge deal with your consumers, and you must find your brand’s unique angle to insert yourself into the global discussion. Social listening provides the roadmap – it’s up to you to do the legwork.
What does all of this tell you if you’re a food brand today? There are three key takeaways here:
- Being on TikTok isn’t a make-or-break option, but it doesn’t hurt. Your most rabid fans are likely there, and you can make them hungry for your content and your food or beverages with just a little bit of targeted social listening. And it helps to bring a sense of humor.
- Even if you think your brand has nothing to do with cultural events or trends happening today, you’re likely misjudging things. Consumers want to see brands engaged in some way. They want to be sure that the companies they’re buying from – yes, even their food – share the same values they do and back those values up with action.
- Value and functionality need to be brought to the forefront in your sustainable food branding. Use social listening to uncover product intelligence, including key words that are most impactful to your consumers. Highlight these terms in your messaging and packaging to boost your visibility – and your sales!
Consumers are increasingly well informed on the brands they choose to purchase from. Inserting your brand into the sustainability conversation with your food branding takes precision to win over picky eaters. Emulating successful tactics of others is okay starting out, but you need to carve out your own place online. Reach out for a demo, and we’ll show you how!