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Connecting with customers: What makes food information credible?

Tuesday, February 13, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Lauren Brey, director of marketing and research
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The agricultural community continues to work toward connecting with our customers and ensuring they have accurate information about how food is grown and raised.

Charlie Arnot, CEO of The Center for Food Integrity (CFI), uses the term "belief spectrum" when explaining people's assessment of what makes food information credible. 

The assessment is shaped by their relationship to the truth, said Arnot, who recently shared findings from research on the topic.

He defined five types of people on this spectrum: scientific, philosopher, follower, wishful thinker and existentialist.

Followers are a group that we have an opportunity to influence because they are looking for guidance on what they can and can’t do. They are worried about doing something wrong or jeopardizing the health and well-being of their families.

“Most importantly, they listen to advice that is simple to understand and that feels right – because it’s ethically or morally the right thing to do," Arnot said.

So, what does this mean to the agricultural community?

Use these inputs to make the information you are sharing relatable to a follower:

  • Use a source who is knowledgeable about the subject yet easy to understand.
  • Clearly tell the followers what they should do given their situation.
  • Relate to them – share your similar responsibilities (family, community, etc.).
  • Give ethically and/or morally sound advice – followers like guidance that feels like the right thing to do.

Messages should be ethically led and scientifically backed. Use this as an opportunity to leverage other parents, farmers, wives and husbands to deliver ethically rational arguments.

Outputs the ag community needs to deliver to help our messages be heard:

  • Information that is simple and easy to understand.
  •  Arguments they can visualize.
  • How-to or what-to-do.
  • The comfort of knowing that they are doing the right thing (permission to believe).

According to the CFI research, there is a three-step formula for evolving the beliefs of followers:

  • The messenger needs to be an expert followers trust. (Relatability + shared values + competency)
  • The message should be unambiguous and deliver a simple solution.
  • The message should address a specific vulnerability of the follower. This group fears they will miss something or do the wrong thing and jeopardize the health of themselves or their families.

Try using these strategies the next time you are working on a presentation, creating posts for social media or preparing for a farm tour.

The Center for Food Integrity is a non-profit organization dedicated to making sure customers have the balanced information they need to make informed choices.

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