Your voice can speak volumes. The customer is always right. We have the power to influence change.
These statements are proving to be true! More and more, we’re seeing companies listen to their customer’s wants and needs. With increasing competition, transparency and choices, we are seeing a shift to where companies must listen to the consumer to survive.
Thanks to people like you, companies are realizing that consumers want products free from artificial additives, harmful materials and of course, GMOs. Luckily, we now have a number of ways to reach the decision-makers with our opinions. The following methods have been used to encourage companies to change:
- Social Media: NPR reported how General Mills listened to the voice of 40,000 Facebook fans persuading them to make Cheerios non-GMO. More recently Marketwatch described how General Mills is making additional changes, “Chief Executive Jim Murphy said the company is listening to consumers ‘who want to see more recognizable and familiar ingredients on the labels’ and plans to have more than 90% of its cereals free of artificial flavors and colors by the end of next year.” Whether you start a group on Facebook, make a video on Youtube, or Tweet your heart out on Twitter, companies want to respond to their fans.
- “Contact us” website link: Submitting an online comment can be extremely powerful since companies may typically measure and analyze these inquiries. PepsiCo’s SVP, Seth Kaufman, explained in this NPR article that Aspartame is “literally the number-one complaint we’ve heard from diet-cola consumers as to why they’re drinking less and less diet cola”
- Online petition:
- Anyone can start it! As described in USA Today, a Mississippi teenager discovered that Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO), an ingredient in PepsiCo’s Gatorade and Coca Cola’s Powerade, has been patented as a flame retardant and is forbidden in the EU and Japan. She used Change.org to collect over 200,000 signatures to persuade the brands to remove BVO from all of their beverages.
- Also through org, Petitioners asked Wendy’s to add a veggie burger option. The Columbus Dispatch describes how Wendy’s took action, selecting Columbus, Ohio as the test market for the new black bean veggie burger.
- Mail a Letter: Also known as “snail-mail,” letters are a physical object that can visually show the importance of an issue to leadership. Through multiple outlets, Kraft Foods heard loud-and-clear from food activists, parents and concerned citizens that it was time to remove the artificial colors and preservatives in the U.S. version of Macaroni & Cheese, mimicking the way it’s been formulated in Europe for years, according to USA Today.
- Purchasing decisions: As brands see a shift in their profits based on consumers choosing not to buy products with artificial ingredients, they may seek to make changes to win those consumers back. After showing a 3% declines in sales, Subway has decided to follow suit with Chipotle and Taco Bell and will be revamping its menu with all-natural ingredients, reported by the Washington Post.
While each of the accomplishments above may have their controversies, we are focused on celebrating the fact that there are ways for consumers to create change in our food system just by speaking up! There are a number of ways to continue on this momentum and continue cleaning up our food system. Here are a few other ideas to share your voice:
- Join (or create a group) of like-minded individuals so you can combine your voices.
- Blog or post about the things that are important to you.
- Host or attend an event where you can learn and share your opinions.
- Wear your values proudly as a bumper sticker, t-shirt or with a pin!
What other ideas do you have? Comment below!
Plus, not only is improving the quality of food the right thing to do, but it is also the best choice for the bottom line:
“As the world’s leading restaurant company, we are evolving to be more responsive to today’s customer,” said McDonald’s President and Chief Executive Officer Steve Easterbrook in a recent press release “McDonald’s management team is keenly focused on acting more quickly to better address today’s consumer needs, expectations and the competitive marketplace. We are developing a turnaround plan to improve our performance and deliver enduring profitable growth.”
Don’t be afraid to share your opinion, views, wishes, feelings and desires on the future of food. What do you have to say, who will you say it to and how will you say it?
Our new guest blogger, Laurie Burgess, joined UNFI last March as an account manager after working as Sales & Marketing manager for one of our mission-driven vendors, Preserve. Having concentrated her MBA in corporate social responsibility, Laurie is passionate about using her career in business to benefit society and the environment – hence, she is thrilled to be blogging about natural foods!