Every now and again, public opinion ramps up and becomes so unified that voice of the consumer finally gets heard.
Even in today’s social media circus, our voice as consumers can be lost in the veritable tsunami of information pouring forth. Therefore, it is a great pleasure to see the public garner a well-earned win over the food industry. Some may wonder how something as vital as food could even be portrayed as an industry. After all, we come from our roots as a nation of farmers and purveyors of food. Mama’s home style cooking could never be classified as an industry. But lo and behold as we march through our new century, we find that the preponderance of food being promoted to our eyes, ears and tummies is from chains. Organizations not built on gastronomic foundations but on the mighty dollar with cheap food being the operative term. Mickey D’s got away with putting pink slime into its burgers. But not for long. Customers have long memories and there was flashback. McDonald’s generated so much heat including “I Hate McDonald’s web sites – is it any wonder that profits started to shrink. Now, it is a well-known fact that when pocketbooks are pinched, it is a wakeup call to companies that they better listen.
And listening they are, not just McDonald’s but Wendy’s too as well as a slew of others. Of course, they may stretch the truth a little (it will come back to haunt them) but there is growing demand for healthier and more nutritious foods. And restaurants chains, fast and sit-down are starting to pony up to the bar: Read St Pete Times, Fast and loose with local
But it took a lot of work for the public to be heard. There have been some very hard-hitting documentaries produced over the last few years including:
- Food Inc.: Documentary filmmaker Robert Kenner examines how mammoth corporations have taken over all aspects of the food chain in the United States, from the farms where our food is grown to the chain restaurants and supermarkets where it’s sold. Food, Inc. revealed powerful truths about the American food supply, from the inhumane treatment of factory farmed animals to the dangers of GMOs.
- Supersize Me: Director Morgan Spurlock’s social experiment in fast-food gastronomy sees him attempting to subsist uniquely on food from the McDonald’s menu for an entire month. In the process his weight balloons, his energy level plummets and he experiences all sorts of unexpected — and terrifying — side effects.
- Fed Up: Filmmaker Stephanie Soechtig and journalist Katie Couric investigate how the American food industry may be responsible for more sickness than previously realized.
All these films, articles, social media and blogs focused on fixing the food industry, starting with McDonald’s and filtering throughout. And the food industry is not the only one. Witness what is happening in health-care, fossil fuel, insurance, etc.
Let’s face it:
PUBLIC OPINION DRIVES MARKETS NOW MORE THAN EVER.
YOU BETTER CONTROL PUBLIC OPINION OR IT WILL CONTROL YOU (ALREADY IS)
There are some prime movers in the food industry that continue to do an incredible job fostering their own public opinion through their public relations activities.
The key to having a #PRWin is publicizing your good works. This one activity helps you weather the storm better when you get bad publicity – all these companies above have been attacked, but they survive and continue to gain market share by putting out tons of positive news, aka PR. Look how McDonalds – seriously behind the 8ball – is trying to do the same:
Bottom-line, even Millennials – the generation you think is so hard to understand? They are going to be the BIGGEST workforce and spending force by 2020 hands down. And what is so significant about them? They will spend their money and pay more to companies who contribute to the greater good – and publicize it – because face it, if you don’t tell anyone, no one will know: Read Corporate Ethics in the Era of Millennials
What it comes down to, is true public relations really comes about through Word of Mouth (WoM):
- WoM drives 13% of sales
- Offline WoM drives 2/3 of business
- Online WoM drives 1/3
- 1 offline WoM impression drives sales 5X more than 1 paid ad
- WoM amplifies paid media by 15%
- WoM = $6 trillion in annual consumer spending
And true Word of Mouth comes from having an excellent product that fits a true need.
Sidebar: Did you know there is a new tool that enables you to track offline Word-of-Mouth – this could be a retail game changer: Read The Like Machine; Express & Decide
These may not be Mama’s meatballs but at least and at last there is no pink slime in them. Now, that’s a #PRWin!