Let's talk about trust. In NBJ’s February 2013 Consumer Research issue, which is swimming with consumer insights and thoughtful scenarios of our possible food futures, one theme keeps leaping off the page for me. We just don't seem to trust anyone, or trust in anything.
Here are just a few of the choicer quotes to be had inside these pages. From Sweden, Peter Wennström offers us this gem: "Too many accepted sources of yesteryear—from experts to politicians to big corporations—have compromised with the truth." Dave Kingsbury, New Hope's very own champion of insights, puts it this way: "Between tainted food, energy drinks and questionable corporate practices, consumers are hesitant to believe anything.” And finally, let's turn to Carla Ooyen, NBJ's research director, with 1,300 consumers at her fingertips. This from a 40-something female in North Carolina—"I go to the websites ... and look at what is known about the brand and product. I trust myself to do the research and make the decisions."
With the great crossover of nutrition products from fringe to mainstream well underway, there's little doubt that consumers are connecting the dots better between food, supplements, lifestyle and health. It's evident in this whole wellness movement on its rapid march through the developed world. It's there in the leapfrogging middle classes of BRIC countries accelerating the natural products adoption curve. It's also complicated by a long-simmering, deeply-rooted, disquieting distrust of corporate profiteering and crass capitalism right here in their safest harbor, the USA. If you are a business leader reading this letter, please do note that fewer and fewer consumers have faith in you to do right by them at all.
So supplement executive: How will you buck public perception of your adulterated industry to imbue trust in consumers? And you, organic founder & CEO: How can you truly keep the faith as your industry falls into larger and larger corporate hands? Because the real point here is that trust is the holy grail of business in the years to come, and it's driven by transparent business models finely attuned to consumer need, and most of you aren't there yet.
Consumer researchers have a certain air of ethereal prognostication about them, but collectively, in a forum such as this that surveys the full landscape of insights around health & wellness, they seem to be singing a similar tune. Consumers are hungry for trusted sources that pass their rigorous screens for health, quality and sustainability, but they want to get there on their own.
Don't stand in the way.