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From day one, MarketPlace has championed an undisputed fact of food marketing: a successful product sells into the unique desires and ever-changing tastes of the end-consumer. If droves of consumers start tweeting about their love for earthworm flavor or gym-sock aroma, food and beverage R&D teams will be working hard to capture the essence of those flavor profiles. B2B manufacturer or retail packager, the goal is to please the populous.

Marketing to the consumer certainly is no novel concept, but for many B2B companies, it’s not always second nature. By definition, a B2B company sells to another business, and many times that’s the extent of its focus. But those companies that dig deeper, past what their primary customers ask for to what their customers’ customers ask for, have a clear edge. In the B2B world, this is often the level of differentiation, the level at which you can mine marketing gold. If you’re B2B and can get into the heads and hearts of the ones purchasing the products containing your ingredients or materials and use that knowledge to develop something that makes their lives better, your customer is sure to want a piece of the action.

Traditional data mining methods remain relevant. Much can be learned from a focus group or tasting panel. Print advertising is still capable of reaching a significant amount of potential brand advocates, and publications offer some valuable readership, recognition, and recall data. Even a well-placed suggestion box can offer creative insight from a very targeted audience. The scale of these efforts is limited, however. If the goal is to extend your reach to a larger audience of specific consumers, traditional means may not be the best approach anymore.

So where do you find these elusive consumers? How do you get into their world? By getting into their technology, whether social media, mobile, or otherwise. Consider a few statistics: In a single day, roughly two million blog posts are written. In that same day, iPhone sales outpace human births worldwide. 35 million mobile apps are downloaded. And these jaw-dropping numbers are increasing exponentially.

The prevalence of mobile devices (phones, tablets, and the like) has now made it possible to reach just about any audience anywhere in an instant. Seems daunting, but with the right technology partner, it’s much less far-fetched than you may think.

Imagine creating an app that provides a platform for discussions on emerging flavors; perhaps you’d like to create a digital recipe book, a trend notebook, or a polling app to gather feedback on food packaging. Apps are inherently social, inherently shareable. They can be used for digital word-of-mouth. Consumers want to share their ideas, feedback, hopes, and dreams with anyone who will listen. Even if you’re B2B, that “anyone” includes you. The data that can be mined from a quality, well-implemented app can help you refine your products and offer your customer something backed by an entire community of their own customers’ opinions.

Consider the nature of social media. Those who participate, both consumers and companies, come together to influence (and ultimately define) the market. Conversations, posts, recommendations, reviews, ideas . . . get in on a trend before it peaks in popularity and have an opportunity to affect purchase decisions.

In the end it truly is all about the consumer, and in a world where websites and apps offer direct, targeted connections, can you afford to sit on the sidelines?

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MarketPlace is a strategic partner to health and wellness, pet and animal, and food and beverage brands. Through business strategy, industry focus, and marketing expertise, we help our partners grow.