Connecting with Consumers

By: DeEtta Bohling, Communications Specialist

“Consumers don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Makes sense right? A salesman may be very knowledgeable about the product he is selling but unless he has a sincere interest in me and my needs or wants, I’m simply not interested in doing business with that salesperson and possibly, that company.

With that said, farmers and ranchers shouldn’t be surprised by consumers wanting to know that they care about the health of their family- someone they may not personally know. A study done by the Center for Food Integrity (CFI) showed that of early adopters, 86 percent had done an online search on food nutrition in the past six months. Seventy-nine percent had searched the safety of food, and over 40 percent searched topic including the use of technology in growing food, humane treatment of animals raised for food, and environmental sustainability in farming.

Who are these “early adopters” I speak of? Early adopters are the folks in society most capable of changing consumer attitudes. The rest of society tends to follow these early adapters, which is why CFI felt it was important to study this group and the role websites and social media play in forming their opinions on food. Knowing this information makes it possible for agricultural groups better engage these folks and determine how to better communicate with them.

Do you remember when the iPod first hit the market? Those that bought them when they first came out would be considered early adopters. By 2007, Apple sold over 100 million iPods.

So as farmers and ranchers, how can you connect with your consumers? Today it is easier than ever to communicate with people around the world. Forty-eight percent of early adopters indicated that they frequently visit Facebook and 30 percent they frequently use YouTube.

Just under half of early adopters (46%) believed that the information found on the Internet strongly helped to shape their opinions on the safety of food. Four out of 10 (41%) believed that information they found on the Internet strongly helped to shape their opinions about the nutrition of food. About one out of three (35%) believed this information strongly helped to shape their opinions about the humane treatment of animals raised for food and environmental sustainability in farming.

There’s no question that the internet and social media shape opinions. Even through social media, farmers can show that they care for the consumer. What are you doing to communicate with society about your farming practices and the food you produce? Be it a Facebook account, blog, or letter to the editor, listen to the concerns of consumers and be proactive.

View the research- 2011 Early Adopter Web Research: Targeting Early Adopters to Build Consumer Trust

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