An Insider Look at Consumer Purchasing Decisions
For the keynote portion of Oklahoma Pork Congress this year, Oklahoma pig farmers had the opportunity to hear directly from a panel of five Oklahoma consumers regarding how they make food purchasing decisions and how their beliefs about food production came to be.
The one word that likely describes how most of the audience felt about this session is eye-opening.
okPORK worked with Allyson Perry at CMA Consulting to facilitate the panel. Perry arranged for the consumers to join us and also moderated the Q&A session. As the session started, and before the panelists entered the room, Perry asked the pig farmers to be respectful and just listen to the panelist’s answers. This was a time for them to learn from these consumers, not educate them. At the end of the panel the audience had the opportunity to ask questions to get more information about what they heard.
The questions Perry asked the panel centered around reading food labels, what people and information sources most influenced their food-buying decisions and their knowledge of GMO’s and antibiotic and hormone use in farm animals.
It’s impossible to summarize all that the panel said. But to give you an idea, we asked some folks in the audience what they took away from the discussion.
For me, the two main take-away thoughts from the consumer panel were:
1) It is clear that the “anti-crowd” (vegan, anti-GMO, antibiotic free, etc.) has done a much better job than we in agriculture (specifically the meat sector) have done in reaching the new consumer with our key messages. I have said it for years that we in agriculture got behind in this new battle for the consumer by assuming “we are famers and we produce food, so people love us, right!” Unfortunately, this consumer panel was just another clear example of how the other side has used social media, consumer fears, and their own agendas to, in my opinion, distort the truth BUT win many consumers over to their side.
2) The good news from my perspective as I listened to the panel… they are open to our story! We just must engage and do battle where they now chose to get their so called “truth”. On social media, in articles of all forms, and in open settings such as dietary meetings and places of employment. It not too late to turn the tide!
I thought it was quite interesting to hear the differences in the consumers requirements and priorities. Some were all about the labeling and some had a total disregard for it the best I can remember. It just proves that it takes all kinds to make the world go around. It also makes me think of the saying, “different strokes for different folks.”
I give great credit to advertising and marketing. I was surprised how mis-informed and persuaded the public is. No matter the subject. I think anyone in production agriculture should experience a panel like this to show us how importance of our leadership at okPORK. We should all be spokespersons for agriculture and we can make a difference. That is why what you do for us at okPORK makes a large difference. The panel also makes me want to support 4-H, FFA and Ag in the Classroom as these are organizations or activities that get the real truth about agriculture out to the world.
I came away with the feeling that it’s an almost impossible task to educate consumers. Everyone thinks they are an expert, but they have no idea of the actual facts about food production. But, even if we may feel behind the eight ball, we should keep working at consumer education and doing our best to tackle this big task.