Fresh foods certainly had an easier time of it back in the day, didn’t they? The milkman brought cow’s milk fresh from the dairy right to your doorstep. The local store had only the produce and meats that could stay fresh in the short distance from farmers’ fields or pastures. Few, if any, competitors vied for buyers’ attention in each category.

Today, the fresh foods market is as competitive as any other in the supermarket. Shoppers are looking for products that meet their exact dietary needs, spurring the growth of categories that didn’t exist 10 – or even five – years ago.

Consumers want locally sourced foods with clean labels, fresh ingredients, minimal processing, ingredients they can pronounce and health benefits for their family’s unique needs. They want their foods to be functional – to not only taste good but serve their bodies. But they aren’t sorting through all these criteria standing in front of a cooler anymore – they’re doing it online.

Consumers must wade through information overload

Social media is a powerful tool, but, unfortunately, it’s led to a marketplace that’s confusing for consumers. Anyone with a Twitter account can tout the pros or cons of any product and boost or shrink a brand’s sales in the blink of an eye. In fact, 51% of social media users in a recent survey said that they believe content posted by other consumers is more authentic than a brand’s.

Is fat in or out this week? Is that product keto? Gluten-free? Plant-based? Opinions are everywhere. It’s dizzying for consumers – and perhaps more so for brands that are trying to keep up.

Retailers know exactly what consumers crave and are competing mightily to be the one who sells it to them. They want to stock brands that not only offer what consumers are demanding but also have the marketing firepower to help them draw in shoppers.

To get that elusive shelf space, fresh food brands need to recognize that a consumer’s path to purchase is no longer linear. Consumers gather data, evaluate products and select their purchase before they even enter a store or visit a website.

It’s crucial that brands start their awareness efforts before consumers make these decisions. They need to establish recognition – and value – early in the buyer’s journey by meeting consumers where they are and becoming part of their decision process. There’s good reason to get into the game sooner rather than later – almost half of social media users say that they’ve bought a product after viewing the brand’s video online.

Waiting too long to make consumers aware of your value could be fatal. Most brands don’t die – they forget to remind consumers of who they are and what they bring to the consumers’ lives. And then the brand is forgotten too.

Brands struggle to engage and connect with consumers

Consumers want to feel connected with the brands they purchase, and so many of the companies we work with are doing good for their communities and the planet. They’re good people who want to provide superior products, but they often don’t know how to engage with consumers and start a relationship.

At Envoy Fresh, we show fresh food brands how to reach their core buyers and get more shoppers like those. We know how to create an integrated strategy with crucial messaging that engages consumers and leads to sales. We help our clients make a connection with consumers and then build on it to create a relationship that lasts a lifetime.

We launched Envoy Fresh because we saw how fresh food brands were struggling in the complex marketplace today. We’re based in America’s Heartland, where farmers and ranchers produce much of the food that feeds our nation. So many of them have a rich, wonderful story to tell – it’s our pleasure to help them share it.