The 2017 Edelman Earned Brand study – a global survey of 14,000 consumers across 40 countries – found that 51% of people across the world believed brands could do more to solve social problems than their government. For Brazil, this figure was higher at 61% and in Mexico it was 62%.
Space for positive change
Jaqueline Januzzi, global sector development manager for food and beverage at Edelman, said this level of belief in brands gave “space to lead the change” on issues like health and the environment.
“Consumers expect more from all the agents involved in the supply chain and they also expect these players to not only deliver a better product but also produce it in a more sustainable and transparent way,” Januzzi told FoodNavigator-LATAM.
She said these expectations were particularly prevalent among younger generations who were much more belief-driven with purchases.
“The new generations are more and more focused on healthy eating, fewer sugary-drinks and more sustainable foods. Every year, we see these trends dominating,” she said.
“...There is a big move towards healthier, functional and purposeful foods and this is a trend we have been following everywhere in the world for a few years now. They are definitely important and gaining more traction, especially as new generations take the stage and make decisions on what they want on their plate.”
'Companies need to make a statement'
Januzzi said companies looking to address these trends in Latin America had to do more than just act; they had to better communicate with consumers.
“Companies need to make a statement and decide to be part of the change, leading the innovation... Consumers also want to be involved in company decisions, want to feel a part of their conversations and want to have a transparent relationship with the brands to support them,” she said.
Environmental impact was one area companies had to communicate more in, she said, as it was an increasingly important subject.
“Consumer eyes are very focused on what companies are doing in terms of harming the environment and they do not trust that companies are doing a good job there. So, [companies] need to engage on this topic but also communicate this to their consumers. While many stabs have been taken, perhaps not all of them have been well communicated and they need to be to impact consumer perceptions.”
Addressing obesity concerns in a transparent way also had to be a continuing priority for brands and manufacturers in the region, she said, through reformulation and package downsizing, among other strategies.
“Consumers are definitely asking for more – for a constant evolution of ingredients and transparency,” she said.
“...We have seen adjustments to smaller portions in multiple markets. In Brazil, for example, the packaging is already smaller than in countries like the US.” Companies had also shifted towards front-of-pack labelling, she said, which allowed consumers to make more conscious purchase decisions.
Januzzi said that whilst each market had its “nuances”, for the most part these trends were common across the region.