January 14, 2021

Engaging Consumers With Local Food Stories

Why grocers need to become storytellers about the food they sell.

By Doug Kolmar

During the pandemic, many consumers have discovered, or rediscovered, a love of cooking and an interest in ingredients that is reversing a years long trend toward eating away from home or using quick pre-prepped meal solutions.  And it appears that this is a trend that will last: in a Hunterpr.com survey, more than 50% of people who are cooking more at home say they will continue after the pandemic.  When it comes to preparing food, it seems many people are happily turning back the clock to a time when cooking and gathering for the family meal was a central part of the day.  Social media is brimming with recipes, details about exotic ingredients, and proudly-displayed images of everyone’s latest cooking adventure.  

No doubt, these home cooks represent an ideal target consumer for grocers. To truly engage these shoppers and build trust with them, now and in the future, grocers need to become collaborators in their customers’ food stories.  How you may ask? About writing, author Anton Chekov said, “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” In other words, details are what bring a story to life, and that’s where grocers can help their customers have a richer experience that they will want to share. What are consumers interested in when it comes to their food? For starters:

  • Where it came from: How far did it travel? How many times was it touched? What impact did it have on the community where it was grown or produced? Who are the people who made it? Does it have any cultural significance?

  • How it was produced:  Was it grown using organic or sustainable methods?  What is the carbon footprint of producing it?  How much water is used to produce it? Were there any special techniques used to enhance flavor or texture?

  • Seasonality: What is available fresh in the current season in my area?

  • Nutritional Information: What vitamins and nutrients does it provide?  Is it pesticide free? Gluten free? Vegan?

  • Cooking and serving tips: What pairs well with what I am serving? How do I cook this? What does it taste like?
  • Images: in this content-rich Social Media world it’s also vital to use images to illustrate the story of our food.

Of course, gathering this level of detail for your products requires having a close relationship with your suppliers.  Fortunately for grocers using the Forager platform, we can provide a rich repository of data, images and descriptions about the suppliers they source from, that can be used for marketing, such as website and social content, and informational in-store signage. If you are interested in learning more, get in touch with our Marketing Services team for details.