Food Entrepreneur - January 5, 2021 - 4

FOOD ENTREPRENEUR

Cutting through

the noise

Big brands should take a cue from startups
to create meaningful engagement
ELEMENT SHRUB

BY NATALIE SHMULIK

I

n 2020, consumers' daily lives shifted
online, amplifying their digital presence and resulting in a flood of digital
advertising. In this increasingly oversaturated space, small brands have been able to
cut through the noise and capture consumer attention on and offline. Taking a cue
from startups, big brands can build more
meaningful engagement by leveraging personalized marketing, connecting through
shared values and partnering with brands
on highly targeted campaigns.
Relatability is not just a
buzzword. A brand is relatable
when consumers can see a piece
of themselves in the brand and articulate how it fits into their lives.
Startups are uniquely positioned
for this opportunity because
founders are often personally intertwined with their brands. Corporate-weary consumers increasingly prefer
to buy from small brands that are visibly
backed by a trustworthy face. Big brands can
meet this desire by promoting the passionate people behind their products, or even
following a single team member's journey.

Startups also excel at highlighting
the driving ethos behind their brand,
which projects values that customers find
relatable. While firms often tag missions
onto packaging and display commitments
to social causes, the storytelling behind
the label makes a bigger impact. Charlie
Berkinshaw, founder and chief executive
officer of Element Shrub, an award-winning brand of unique drinking vinegars,
finds it pivotal to express his personal
values authentically through his brand.
" I want to use this platform to

in the brand's development.
Both brands also use personalized
consumer outreach to develop brand
loyalty. Element Shrub includes customized
handwritten notes in every product shipped,
while lil'gourmets invites highly targeted
potential customers - often mom groups
- to host and share parties that are supplied
with education materials, coupons and
branded accessories. Working with local pediatricians, daycare centers and extracurricular activity providers helps the brand build
trust with consumers and become a part of
their lives and communities.
Collaboration also opens
the door to innovation and
authentic relationships with clients. Element Shrub joined McClintock Distilling to combine
upcycled ingredients from their
production to develop a line of
cordials - while supporting the
brands' zero-waste agenda. The founders
share their collaboration and collective
mission through social media, allowing
consumers to participate in the conversation. This strategy also helps both brands
reach new yet aligned audiences.
While the competitive online ad
space has made customer acquisition and
retention harder, it's clear audiences are
receptive to honest, deeply rooted campaigns. Food safety and regulations aside,
brands do not have to portray perfection or
promote an idealized lifestyle. To connect
with this market, corporations should
show a more vulnerable, human side:
whether it's a real face behind the company,
sharing personal stories or connecting
with intuitive causes. By building this
bridge, brands can create an accessible and
fluid environment that generates interest,
boosts brand loyalty and grows sales. ▪

Corporate-weary consumers
increasingly prefer to buy from
small brands that are visibly
backed by a trustworthy face.

Natalie Shmulik is the chief executive officer
of The Hatchery Chicago, a food and beverage
incubator. Email editor@sosland.com.
34

Food Business News

do good for the world, " he said. His
values and missions - including zero
waste and " Mixers with a Mission, " a
tree-planting initiative - align with his
eco-conscious brand.
Clearly stated values can also rally
a community around a brand. Shibani
Baluja, CEO of lil'gourmets, a brand of
organic vegetable-based meals for children, promotes her brand's and products'
mission by connecting with organizations
like Partnership for a Healthier America.
Their critical initiative, " Shaping Early
Palates, " educates parents on the importance of introducing vegetables to babies
and toddlers. The program " aligned with
our mission (and) helps amplify our message, " Ms. Baluja said. The mom-owned
brand connects authentically to families,
while surveys collect valuable feedback
and involve customers who feel invested

January 5, 2021



Food Entrepreneur - January 5, 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Food Entrepreneur - January 5, 2021

Food Entrepreneur - January 5, 2021 - 1
Food Entrepreneur - January 5, 2021 - 2
Food Entrepreneur - January 5, 2021 - 3
Food Entrepreneur - January 5, 2021 - 4
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