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The rise of digital technology is reshaping the foodservice industry and driving a new level of interaction with consumers. In growing numbers, consumers are using smartphones and other devices to perform anytime, anywhere brand research across a dizzying range of touch points.

For food retailers and manufacturers, the message from the marketplace couldn’t be more clear: Digital is here to stay, and success in the food industry means learning how to evolve your digital strategy to engage consumers and B2B customers across all channels.

Tips for keeping up with digital evolution

The digital evolution presents special challenges for food manufacturers and retailers, especially since the food industry has historically been slow to embrace digital strategies. But moving forward, the food industry will need to embrace the steps outlined below to forge digital connections with audiences in both the B2C and B2B sectors.

1. Establish and maintain a consistent brand presence

Food industry brands need to prioritize a consistent presence across all digital channels, including mobile and social-media touch points. As the sheer volume of competitors, touch points and distribution channels increases, it becomes more difficult for brands to maintain consistent messaging and product images, jeopardizing the integrity of consumer relationships.

One of the food-industry trends worth watching is increased consumer awareness about the sourcing of ingredients and the presence of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), nutritional information, environmental impact and sustainability. On the operational side, food companies can leverage the GS1 Data Quality Framework to improve product data accuracy throughout the supply chain.

2. Create a digital marketing strategy

It’s critical for food retailers and manufacturers to create a digital marketing strategy that addresses digital content requirements. By leveraging content libraries and other resources, organizations can improve the quality of product content and increase the efficiency of the publishing process across various platforms. 

Along the same lines, companies should appoint a single group or individual who is accountable for shepherding and gathering product content from the product owners. Clear lines of accountability ensure product data remains accurate. 

3. Understand and foster digital engagement

Digital marketing plays a key role in staying competitive in today’s marketplace. But digital food companies must go above and beyond digital marketing to create digital engagement — interaction with consumers digitally, enabled through product content and information.

From nutritional information and recipes to detailed product images and other types of content, brands need to evaluate all the ways they can offer customers additional value and a brand experience through digital platforms. 

4. Integrate IT and marketing roles

Digital evolution in the food industry requires organizations to better integrate IT and marketing roles. While IT execs help those in marketing to implement new technologies, marketing professionals must collaborate with their IT counterparts to determine what digital software and solution investments should be made. By leveraging opportunities for integration of these two key functions, food brands can significantly improve the quality and efficiency of their digital investments.

Consistent and high-quality content is driving digital evolution in the food industry. Going forward, the most successful brands will be the ones that leverage digital strategies designed to manage the distribution of complete, accurate and up-to-date content across all relevant touch points.