In today’s competitive marketplace, food and drink brands need to stand out if they are to catch the attention of potential customers. However, with products constantly vying for attention on supermarket shelves, it can be challenging for brands to make a lasting impression.
So, what can determine which products end up in customers’ baskets and which are left on the shelves? Well, PR can play a big influencing factor in this.
Here are five different ways PR can impact customers’ shopping decisions:
1. Increasing brand awareness
One of the primary benefits of PR is increased visibility. PR can help to create buzz around a brand, new product launches or promotions, through tactics including press releases, sampling, product reviews, strategic partnerships and social media campaigns.
These strategies help to position the brand and products directly in front of consumers’ eyes – generating interest, encouraging customers to seek out the product, and, ultimately driving product sales and a stronger foothold in the market.
Increased brand awareness only puts you in a stronger position when it comes to securing further retailer listings, as buyers are sure to want a slice of the pie!
2. Building trust
In addition to creating brand awareness, PR can also help to build trust with your audience.
In the food and drink industry specifically, trust is essential. Potential buyers and customers alike need to know that the products are high quality and pack with flavour. Not just this, in an era of ‘greenwashing’, your audiences need to trust that your eco-credentials are really what they say they are.
In recent years, occurrences of greenwashing have increased significantly, with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) reporting that around 40 percent of claims made to consumers could be deemed misleading. As a result, consumers are increasingly wary of brands.
PR can help to rebuild this trust by highlighting a company’s commitment to quality, sustainability and transparency. This can include showcasing your brand’s certifications, partnerships with reputable organisations or brand ambassadors, and highlighting your commitment to sustainable and ethical practices. Building this trust can give you an edge over competitors.
3. Telling your brand’s story
PR, at its heart, is about great storytelling. It’s a well-known fact that people like to buy from people, so communicating the human side to your brand is a big must for standing out against the competition.
Every food and drink brand has a story to tell, including its history, mission, and values. Research shows that 70 percent of consumers are influenced by a company’s values when making a purchase. On top of this, a further 90 percent say they would switch to a brand that supports a good cause, given similar price and quality.
Telling your story through the media, as well as via your social media platforms, can help to create an emotional connection between your brand and the customer, in turn, making consumers more likely to purchase your products.
Innocent Drinks is a great example of this—the brand is renowned for its distinct tone of voice and strong values which have been communicated clearly and effectively to consumers across all of its marketing touchpoints. As a result, the brand continues to grow year on year, with the brand worth £2.02bn in 2022, up from £1.73bn in 2021 and £1.48bn in 2020.
4. Crisis management
Even the most successful products can experience setbacks. Whether something has gone wrong in production, or a supplier has let you down somewhere in your supply chain, food and drink brands are at high risk of a crisis and need to be prepared for any eventuality.
A well-planned PR strategy and crisis response can help to mitigate the impact of negative news, such as product recalls or damaging reviews. By ensuring transparency and being responsive to customer concerns, you can demonstrate that you take their feedback seriously and are committed to addressing any issues that arise.
A well-known example is the infamous Colin vs Cuthbert battle. When Aldi released its own version of Marks and Spencer’s Colin the Caterpillar cake, M&S responded by filing a lawsuit against their competitor, forcing Aldi to take Cuthbert the Caterpillar off its shelves.
Whilst the lawsuit could have been reputationally damaging for Aldi, the brand managed to come out on top with its tongue-in-cheek response.
In typical Aldi style, the supermarket used its social media channels to hilariously troll M&S, branding them ‘Marks and Snitches’, and launching its #FreeCuthbert campaign.
The approach went down exceptionally well on social media, with the Tweets grabbing national headlines, and customers quickly siding with Aldi over M&S.
5. Creating a loyal customer base
Finally, PR can help to create a loyal customer base for your brand. By engaging with customers through social media, events, and other channels, you can build a strong relationship with customers, which in turn, can lead to repeat purchases and word-of-mouth recommendations.
In addition to engaging with customers directly, PR can also help to create a sense of community around a brand. Sponsoring events or partnering with like-minded organisations can create a sense of shared values and interests with your customers, which can help to create a loyal following that is more likely to purchase your existing products as well as NPD, and even promote them to others.
In conclusion, PR is a vital tool for food and drink brands looking to increase sales and grow their customer base. By creating awareness, building trust, differentiating from competitors, engaging with customers, and managing crises effectively, brands can ensure that their products are added to customers’ shopping baskets, rather than being left on the shelves.
If you’re a food or drink brand looking to stand out against your competitors and improve your sales, contact Hatch at firstname.lastname@example.org.