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Ketchum's Global Food 2020 Survey Reveals Powerful New Group of Food Influencers Food e-Vangelists Are Informed, Opinionated, and Looking to Impact the Global Food System

NEW YORK, Oct. 8, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- A shift in power is taking place in the food industry led by a group of increasingly influential consumers who want to impact the way food is raised, grown, packaged and sold. Leading global public relations agency Ketchum today released results from its third global Food 2020 survey, which sheds light on this vocal subset of food influencers – dubbed Food e-Vangelists – who are making an impact on the hottest food issues today.

"In our third year of fielding this survey, we are seeing consistent and important trends about consumers' interest in the food system and what they have come to expect and demand from food marketers, buyers and sellers," said Linda Eatherton, partner and director of Ketchum's Global Food & Nutrition Practice. "What's distinct about this year's study is that we have identified a group of Food e-Vangelists as a small but mighty segment of agents of change who are prepared and motivated to take action and convert others to adopt their opinions about foods, brands and companies in the food and agricultural sector." 

Food e-Vangelists are typically young females who are active online, financially secure and have families – a group that also is commonly targeted in food marketing. However, what is unique is that this group is not defined by its demographic profile but by its like-mindedness, and typical marketing practices aren't effective with Food e-Vangelists.

"The Food e-Vangelists are the single most important group in the food industry today, but they don't fit typical marketing demographics," Eatherton said. "They are hiding in plain sight – yet food companies are allocating budgets on marketing programs that don't reach them. This group will change the food industry forever, but at the moment they represent a hugely missed opportunity."

Eatherton continued, "In our research we looked at consumers whom we identified as Food Involved – a psychographic profile of consumers that care deeply about food, where it comes from and the processes used in production and manufacturing. However, we uncovered a consumer segment inside this group that was somewhat different, a uniquely powerful subset with very different drivers and expectations from the Food Involved."

Food e-Vangelists listen to everyone, trust no one, and take action

Food e-Vangelists are action-oriented; they take it upon themselves to learn about the issues and to influence others by sharing their findings. In fact, more than two-thirds of Food e-Vangelists say they would conduct online research to better inform their opinions if they saw a news story about a banned food item.

"Food companies have an opportunity to be open and transparent and provide easily accessible information that can help Food e-Vangelists educate themselves and others about important food issues," said Eatherton. "Ketchum has created a suite of services to help companies understand how commodities and food brands can best identify, engage and activate this consumer."

Food e-Vangelists are shaping the conversation about food and brands

More than one-third of Food e-Vangelists regularly take the time to recommend and critique food brands and products and share their opinions with others – both online and offline.

 

Engage in Behavior At Least Four Times Per Week

Percentage of
Food e-Vangelists

Recommend or critique a food brand

38%

Take time to share opinions about food purchasing habits with friends and family

40%

Take time to share opinions about eating habits with friends and family

40%

Recommend or critique a food product

44%

 

"While the Food Involved group is active at seeking and gathering information about food, Food e-Vangelists believe it is their right and their responsibility to influence the beliefs of others and change behaviors," said Eatherton. "We have seen anecdotally and in qualitative research that Food e-Vangelists actually track their success in this area and feel rewarded or incentivized by the number of people they have reached."

For this influential segment of the population, fresh reigns supreme

Two-thirds of Food e-Vangelists say they have increased fresh food purchases compared to the previous year. And nearly as many (59%) are also consciously purchasing less packaged and prepared foods.

"There are many implications in this data set for packaged food companies, and we are working with many to mine for the insights that impact companies' reputation and brand share," Eatherton said.

Earning the trust of a Food e-Vangelist: Health + Transparency + Cause 

Health, transparency and cause (making food more accessible to families in need) are among the top qualities that make Food e-Vangelists more likely to advocate for a food company or brand, purchase more from a food company or brand, or pay more for a food company's products:

  • Health – More than half of Food e-Vangelists (54%) would like to see food companies prioritize making healthy foods more available in the future.
  • Transparency – More than half of Food e-Vangelists (54%) want ingredient information about a product (including source, processing, production techniques, farm or supplier name, etc.) on product labels.
  • Cause – Two-in-five Food e-Vangelists (40%) say that to recommend a food company to friends and family, the company would have to ensure quality food is accessible to families in need.

Food e-Vangelists are social online

In addition to utilizing blogs and social media to share their opinions about food issues, Food e-Vangelists expect companies to engage with consumers via social media as a tool for direct and open communication.

 

How Food e-Vangelists Expect Global Food Companies to Utilize Social Media

Percentage of
Food e-Vangelists

To work interactively with consumers on product improvements and new products on an ongoing basis

51%

To communicate transparently about sourcing and the manufacturing process

54%

To interact with consumers (e.g. answer questions, provide customer service outlets, etc.)

54%

To solicit feedback from consumers on product improvements and new products

57%

 

Food e-Vangelists are not a fringe group

Across the globe, Food e-Vangelists generate up to 1.7 billion conversations about food every week. And in some regions of the world, the Food e-Vangelist represents a significant segment of the population. In Italy, for example, Food e-Vangelists represent more than one third of the population. In Argentina and China, they represent about one quarter.

 

Country

Percentage of Population Identified as Food e-Vangelists

Italy

37% (23 million people)

Argentina

29% (12 million people)

China

24% (324 million people)

United Kingdom

20% (13 million people)

United States

11% (35 million people)

Germany

9% (7 million people)

 

Food companies have a unique opportunity to mobilize this active segment of consumers. Food e-Vangelists play an important role in advocating on behalf of those companies that are ready to listen and respond to them, and may advocate against companies that don't engage them. To learn more about the Food 2020 survey and implications, visit: www.ketchum.com/food-2020.

About Food 2020

Ketchum's Global Food and Nutrition Practice conducted its third "Food 2020" survey (also conducted in 2008 and 2011), in six markets worldwide – The United States, United Kingdom, China, Italy, Germany and Argentina. The online survey was conducted among 1,800 respondents (300 per market) between Feb. 14, 2013 and March 5, 2013. This most recent Food 2020 study gives food executives a window into a power shift taking place in the food industry and what it means for the world's food makers and marketers.

About Ketchum

Ketchum is a leading global communications firm with operations in more than 70 countries across six continents. The winner of 11 Cannes Lions and an unprecedented three consecutive PRWeek Campaign of the Year Awards, Ketchum partners with clients to deliver strategic programming, game-changing creative and measurable results that build brands and reputations. For more information on Ketchum, a part of Diversified Agency Services, a division of Omnicom Group Inc., visit www.ketchum.com.

About Diversified Agency Services

Diversified Agency Services (DAS), a division of Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE: OMC) (www.omnicomgroup.com), manages Omnicom's holdings in a variety of marketing communications disciplines. DAS includes over 200 companies, which operate through a combination of networks and regional organizations, serving international and local clients through more than 700 offices in 71 countries.

About Omnicom Group Inc.

Omnicom Group Inc. (www.omnicomgroup.com) is a leading global marketing and corporate communications company. Omnicom's branded networks and numerous specialty firms provide advertising, strategic media planning and buying, digital and interactive marketing, direct and promotional marketing, public relations and other specialty communications services to over 5,000 clients in more than 100 countries.

SOURCE Ketchum



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