Consumers are hungry for information.

They want to understand everything they can about food—the entire food story. Consumers want to know what’s in what they’re eating, how it was prepared, where it came from, how it was grown, the values of the company that produced it, and how it got to them. Strides in technology have given consumers increased visibility into so many aspects of life—from apps that provide insight into energy and water usage to wearables that track stress, sleep patterns and exercise—and now they expect full transparency into all the practices and processes that interest them. When it comes to food, transparency and understanding the whole story take center stage; before putting something in our body, we want to know all we can about it.

The consumer eye has turned its desire for transparency to new spheres. Growing practices have been in the spotlight for years, but now logistics, carbon footprint, waste generation, sustainability, and company values are elements of the story that conscious consumers are craving. The more that food companies can do to provide transparency into these areas and share their story, the more trust, engagement, and brand loyalty they will build with consumers.

Transparency: Story as an indicator of quality

Story can have a major impact on consumers’ perceptions of quality. After observable differences in taste, smell or texture, story is the most substantial influence on quality perception. Certified organic produce commands a higher price and is seen as superior in quality because of what consumers know about how it is grown.

Microbreweries have popped up in cities all over the nation offering (in many cases) inarguably great beer prepared with creative ingredients. A major draw, however, is the story. Beer drinkers can talk with brewmasters, understand the entire brewing process, know the sources of all the ingredients in a specific beer, and share their knowledge with friends as they share the brew. The knowledge of each step of the process connects the drinker with the story and they become an active part of it. The act of sharing the beer and the story behind it is an integral step in the process, just like fermentation.

Fiji water has built a hugely successful beverage brand based on the story of their water. By providing transparency into the source of the water (Fiji) and elaborating on the details of the spring, the purity of the water, and the fact that it is “free from human contact until you unscrew the cap,” they have given consumers a reason to believe that Fiji water is actually superior to other brands of spring water. Celebrating their story in their packaging and their messaging not only helps them command higher prices, but has also made Fiji the number one imported bottled water in the United States.

With transparency on the rise, and consumers desire to purchase products that align with their lifestyle and values, the story of food is becoming more important than ever. Taking the time to craft a compelling brand story and share it through the right channels is crucial for success in the new food landscape.

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