Looking toward the year 2020, Lori Colman, CEO of Chicago marketing firm Colman Brohan Davis, today urged international food industry executives attending the Healthy Foods Summit in London to step up their efforts around accountability, sustainability and transparency or run the risk of being left behind in the consumer-controlled future.
In her presentation, "Marketing to the YouTube Generation: Are you Scared or Prepared?" Colman discussed this new generation as well as insights from her firm's "2008 Future of Foods Panel."
"Kids who are ages 8 to 18 today -- the adults of 2020 -- will expect information instantaneously from shared digital networks, word-of-mouth and viral sources, social sites, smart phones or other devices," Colman said. "They've grown up green and already express a point of view about healthy eating and sustainability. They and their networks -- not companies -- will control messaging about a brand."
She indicated food manufacturers and marketers need to communicate answers to five simple questions, sooner rather than later: What exactly is in this product? How is it made? By whom? How did it get here? What effects on the environment will it have?
Colman warned food executives to "act with due speed" based on findings from Colman Brohan Davis's "2008 Future of Foods Panel," representing a cross-section of food manufacturers, marketers, researchers and food service. Many executives surveyed still questioned the near-term value of deploying information to fully empower consumer decision-making.
"A networked society is a transparent society that empowers consumers," she concluded. "Companies must act now to embrace that future or they will be left behind."
Some of the information Colman shared includes:
-- Wired, with information everywhere: YouTube is already a ubiquitous source of information, receiving 1 billion video views per day with 13 hours of video uploaded each minute, with more capacity planned. There will be 4 billion mobile phone users by the end of 2008, with growth expected at 25% annually. Smart phones, "point, find, buy" technology, object hyperlinks, QR, SMS and zap codes will rule.*
-- "Green" from the start: More than half of kids ages 6 to 8 encourage their parents to buy "green" products and express concern about "green" issues. 32 percent of boys and 44 percent of girls ages 6 to 11 go grocery shopping with parents most of the time. More children are being exposed to where and how their food is grown via agritainment/agritourism, which has grown to a $1 billion/year industry.*
-- Opinions and information: 65 percent of U.S. consumers look at food nutritional labels more now than they did two years ago; 42 percent say they check labels before buying a product for the first time; 62 percent of consumers have read an online review before making a decision; 80 percent say their purchase decisions are directly influenced by online reviews; 57 percent of retailers post product reviews on their websites.*
-- Technology advances: Bar codes and cheap sensors will be packed with data that consumers want. RFIDs will be as big as a grain of dust. Everything large enough to have a tiny microchip will have it. Electronic paper, wearable health devices and "smart glass" will give us a fully enabled future.*
* Please contact Jean Ban for source references for each of the items listed above.
Lori Colman is CEO of Colman Brohan Davis, a full-service, strategic branding and creative marketing firm based in Chicago, Illinois ( http://www.cbdmarketing.com/ ).