Tribal (Food) Wars

Tribal (Food) Wars

By JoAnn Alumbaugh, Editor, PORK Network January 24, 2017

We know consumers have varying views on meat production and consumption. For example, vegetarians have chosen not to eat meat for various reasons. But, regardless of the reason, they are not an important audience to reach in terms of product sales of pork. It is important to know which groups are important, and that is where research by the Center for Food Integrity (CFI) can be helpful.

The Center’s study on building trust through transparency identified eight food tribes, some of which are critically important for the pork industry. CFI “not only identified the tribes that are important to the food system but also the tribe leaders — the Early Adopters who drive the conversations, lead trends and influence the direction consumers want to see the food system head. No need to reach the entire tribe when you can find just a handful of influencers,” according to a CFI.

It specifically identified three groups or tribes that need increased attention from the animal ag industry when it comes to building trust. These are the “Mindful Masters,” the “System Satisfied,” and the “Cost Consumed.”

These three tribes represent a significant portion of the population and, most importantly, CFI research confirms that increasing transparency builds their trust.”
Center for Food Integrity

According to CFI, the Mindful Masters commonly use websites, search engines and friends who aren’t online for their information. They are more concerned about issues than any other group, and more than two-thirds of them are early adopters who are likely to actively seek information share it with others and drive conversations. They generate content as well, so they’re likely to be bloggers who relate to consumers.

Members of the System Satisfied tribe receive their information from websites, Google and family members who are not online, in that order. Their level of concern with all issues is significantly higher than most other segments, but is below the Mindful Masters. More than half the members of this group identify as early adopters, says CFI. These individuals are less likely to generate content but will read content and share it with others.

The Cost Consumed tribe members source their information from friends who are not online, websites and family members who aren’t online, in that order. They, too, have a high level of concern with all issues but are not as likely to share it except with immediate family and friends online, reports CFI.

These three tribes represent a significant portion of the population and, most importantly, CFI research confirms that increasing transparency builds their trust,” notes CFI.

The organization coordinated a tour for bloggers who write about food. Thirteen bloggers were selected based on their “tribal” influence and they were encouraged to write whatever they wanted to about their tour experience.

And write they did, reports CFI: “Their reviews were positive and their stories were shared with a combined 940,000 followers, which resulted in 1.3 million immediate impressions. There’s no doubt that many of those reached were content sharers as well, amplifying the reach exponentially. So, in a relative blink of an eye, reaching 13 translated to reaching a million or more.”

This information helps the animal agriculture industry better understand groups of consumers and their concerns about food, and it provides initiatives or strategies that can be implemented to improve the level of transparency offered by the industry.