Sasha Blaney|Feb 25, 2015

Did you know that consumers are willing to pay 31 percent more for food that is produced in ways that advance the wellbeing of the planet, humans and safety of food sources?

In fact, most Americans rely on their friends’ opinions and experiences over what they hear in the news, or the content they see being pushed out by food retailers, to educate themselves on a food company’s human and planet mindfulness.

That’s what Gibbs-rbb uncovered as part of the Conscious Consumer study. What does this mean for the food and beverage industry? Consumers’ purchasing habits are changing, and marketing professionals need to focus on telling the story of a brand – from soil to shelf.

Tomorrow, Gibbs-rbb is hosting food, beverage and CPG companies from across the nation at its inaugural Conscious Consumer Conference. Tina Elmowitz, principal of Gibbs-rbb and executive vice president of rbb, is moderating a panel at the conference. She took time out of her busy schedule to answer my five questions and shed some light on the Conscious Consumer.

As a seasoned consumer PR pro, what do you think sparked a change in how consumers purchase goods? What aspects made them become more “conscious” in their purchases?

The Internet is the number one driving factor in how consumers purchase for three reasons: availability, transparency and simplicity. Any information you can dream of is available 24/7 – from ingredients to prices to corporate giving. Beyond that, consumers have become watchdogs and product reviewers, which keeps companies on their toes and pushes them toward open and honest communication. Finally, you can shop in your pajamas. It doesn’t get any better.

After conducting the Conscious Consumer study, what were you most surprised about?

What surprised me most was how Conscious Consumers move in and out of the category minute by minute. When shopping at the grocery story, I now check out the contents of other people’s grocery carts and I see such an interesting array of food, like organic meats and dairy, Doritos, and Splenda all in one cart. It is easy to see why this discerning group directly impacts more than $200 billion in sales annually.

What were you least surprised about?

I was least surprised about the intimate relationship consumers have with food. It sustains us, it brings us joy and it helps us express ourselves every day.

In what ways are Conscious Consumers impacting the communications industry? How must brands now adapt their approach to reach consumers while continuing to express personal brand awareness?

Conscious Consumers impact more than how food is marketed to the end user. It starts with quality seeds and soil, it carries through to how the farmers and manufacturers treat their workers, and it matters how companies spend their profits. Consumers want to give their money to companies they believe in, and they are willing to pay a premium for it.

Why did you decide to do a conference centered around the Conscious Consumer findings? What are you hoping conference-goers get out of attending?

All of us at Gibbs-rbb want to share our experience and knowledge to help food, beverage and CPG companies see the big picture. The Conscious Consumer is here to stay, and this group’s buying power will only continue to increase. We can help companies stay a step ahead by building long-term relationships with consumers and ultimately measure the impact at the cash register.

Read our most recent study to learn more about Gibbs-rbb and the Conscious Consumer. We’d also like to know your thoughts in the comments below. Are you consuming consciously?


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