The food industry under siege: Viewpoints

SodaStream’s UK managing director and Marketing Week’s features editor about how marketers can act to regain trust in the industry.

lucy profile

Lucy Handley
Features editor
Marketing Week

Marketers are in a tricky position when it comes to supply chain issues, which the horsemeat scandal and Oxfam’s ‘Behind the Brands’ report relate to. Just this week, the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply released a survey saying that only 53 per cent of companies have a strategy to mitigate risk in their supply chains and that supermarkets have fallen ‘woefully short’ in managing them.

But what influence can marketers have on this arguably operational issue? The best marketers will speak to the buyers in the business and ask them what promises

they can make to consumers about quality or value and not sit in a silo of straplines and media schedules. They will refuse to run campaigns that claim something their brand cannot live up to.

Good on Tesco and others for being explicit on what they have been doing to test products and for communicating this. Tesco’s communication with customers has been clear and continuous over the past few weeks and credit is also due for pressing on with its price campaign, launched on Monday.

There are rumblings of other big names planning price-based marketing pushes and putting this scandal behind them. They will need to tread carefully and walk the fine line between getting marketing messages out there and reassuring people about quality, while not reminding them of the crisis.

Consumer trust will return, but as social media gives people more power to make

their views known, marketers will need to keep on talking.

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Fiona Hope
UK managing director
SodaStream

Following on from the horsemeat scandal, consumer confidence in some brands and suppliers is at an all-time low. Now more than ever, people are looking to food and drink retailers and brands for transparency – whether it be through marketing, PR, advertising or simply through information on packaging. Consumers need reassurance that what they are buying is safe, and that they know exactly what they are feeding their families.

Honesty around ingredients, sugar and fat content is also imperative for brands to adhere to if we are to improve the childhood obesity rate in this country. Brands must look past profit margins and invest in research and development to create ‘better for you’ alternatives. At present, obesity among adults and children is on a worrying trajectory, increasing consistently year on year. Greater investment is required to educate the public on the importance of a well-balanced diet, as well as moderate consumption of convenience foods and high sugar beverages.

Starting from the bottom up, introducing health advisers in schools will help to establish a culture of healthy eating, rather than imposing additional taxes on families. It is vital that education is the launch pad for all obesity conversations if we are going to spur real change.

From a brand perspective, a government education initiative can be supported in honest and true marketing strategies, allowing the public to make informed purchasing decisions based on ingredients and their preferred diet.

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