It’s no secret that there’s a growing distrust of “big food” among consumers. Large food companies with legacy-brand status are finding themselves at an interesting intersection of changing perceptions about health and food safety, and the updated federal regulations that are redefining the industry.

Even the CEO of Campbell Soup, Denise Morrison, agrees that “distrust of ‘big food’ is a growing problem,” and the company is currently moving into cost-cutting mode to offset sagging profits.

There is a way to regain lost ground and rebuild trust with customers or businesses that partner with your legacy brand, however. It starts with going the extra mile to better understand their pain points and desires.

Rebuild Your Brand’s Image through Thoughtful Engagement

It’s time for “big food” legacy brands to rethink their marketing strategy and find a way to heal relationships with customers and other businesses through a more engaging online presence.

The best place to start? Focus on providing simple ways to connect and share online and combine it with education-based marketing.

Jayson Demers, Founder and CEO of AudienceBloom, wrote in an Inc.com article that “people do business with those that they like, know, and trust. Brands are a popular proxy for trust: if a consumer believes that a specific brand produces quality products or services, anything with their stamp of approval is likely to pass the basic trust test.”

Simple Ways to Improve Customer Engagement and Repair Cracks in Relationships, Starting Today

Humanize your brand by showing how it relates to your target markets’ needs and shared values.

A brand is a company, but it’s run by people—hopefully passionate, relatable people who want to provide top-quality products and excellent customer service. Let customers see the people who power the brand by sharing more of their personalities on the “About” page or through social media. Also provide customers with a simple platform to ask questions and get quick responses. Most importantly, clearly state company values on your website and in marketing materials, and demonstrate how they directly correlate to why you are in business in the first place.

A Harvard Business Review study found that, “of the consumers in our study who said they have a brand relationship, 64% cited shared values as the primary reason. That’s far and away the largest driver. Meanwhile, only 13% cited frequent interactions with the brand as a reason for having a relationship.”

Retool your messaging to focus on customer needs and education.

Key messaging needs to go beyond empty SEO keywords: it must be backed up by clear proof. Customers want to know what they’re eating, how it directly impacts their health, and why they should believe in your brand again—so show them.

Provide quality content marketing assets like blogs, whitepapers, and social media posts to share facts quickly and help people or potential clients understand the truth about your business and products.

Research from the Content Marketing Institute states that “70% of consumers say content marketing makes them feel closer to the sponsoring company.”

Give customers a platform to engage when things are going poorly and going well, and respond to them quickly.

Whether your brand is in crisis or it’s just another day at the office, give customers (even if those customers are other businesses) a platform to engage with you. Respond to problems immediately and have an action plan in place to follow up. Also, go out of your way to make them feel special with giveaways or sneak peeks of new products, or ask what kind of products they want to see.

An active social media presence gives customers a place to voice concerns and ask questions, with the assurance that they’ll get a response in a timely manner. It’s the most basic way to build trust with your target audience, so make sure you have a response process in place to connect with your audience in a mindful way.

Use customer testimonials to tell the story of your brand’s value and regain trust.

At the end of the day, talking about how awesome you are isn’t nearly as valuable as your customers doing it for you. When you get positive customer feedback, acknowledge customers by sharing their thoughts on your website or through social media. Be sure to use their specific talking points and language to build future marketing messaging that resonates directly with other customers.

All is not lost as the perception of big food continues to evolve, but it’s a great example of how every industry can be best served by putting customers first.

Educating your audience, elevating customer feedback, and continually looping back to your values in your marketing messaging is always a winning strategy—and it gives you plenty of reasons to consistently connect with your customers through valuable content and relationship building.

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