Not all that long ago science and standardized production gave consumers reassurance that they were getting the kind of quality controls and taste that they had come to expect from their favorite foods.
We didn’t want surprises. We wanted consistency.
So why are consumers being drawn so quickly away from the legacy brands they used to love and trust, in favor of smaller brands that they may not know as much about?
Brands with ingredients we can’t pronounce in big factories we have no access to are becoming persona non grata.
Science has come to equal scary when it is connected to the food we put in our bodies. For example, we are abandoning Hershey Bars for Theo Bars to get our chocolate fix.
Consumers (me included) love the way Theo tells its story about artisanal quality and small batch production. We love that their mission is to make the world a better place by bringing out the best of the cocoa bean. And that they “think about every choice we make, every action we take and how it will impact our interconnected world.” Visit their site, it is so beautifully written and their story is so compelling.
Theo is committed to be the most progressive chocolate maker in America and in doing so they became the first organic, fair trade certified chocolate maker in the country. Now that sounds like a brand worth standing behind.
This blog wasn’t meant to be an ode to Theo but when it comes to marketing, they happen to be doing a lot of things right, including being absolutely delicious.
And they have the cult following to back it up.
Cheerios on the other hand, can reformulate their products again and again, but consumers don’t want “formulas” anymore.
They want craftsmanship and storytelling and something to get behind. So when Bob’s Red Mill is in the house, the health-conscious are probably going to pass on the Cheerios.
This move toward small explains why legacy brands like Hershey, are gobbling up small brands like Krave, and why the big beer companies are snatching up all the craft beers.
Right now consumers want small batch; they want artisanal; they want transparency.
The whole concept of food being anywhere near a lab so quickly conjures up negative associations like processed and artificial, that even if there are benefits rooted in science, brands probably shouldn’t be talking about them.
A question is, will the Theo’s and Bob’s Red Mill’s of today become the Hershey’s and Cheerios of tomorrow, or will those brands find a way to get relevant?