The divide between farmers and the consumers has never been this large. No generation in the history of America has been so far removed from the farm, than that of today’s Millennial and Gen Z consumers. With the average age of America’s farmers pushing 58, and Millennials (ages 18-35), the gap between farm and table is equivocal to the spread of Grand Canyon.
The majority of today’s consumers don’t understand food animal life cycles, husbandry techniques, or production demands (GMO’s anyone?).
They’ve never tilled the ground, pulled a calf, nor even grown their own food. They don’t understand why farmers do what they do and how the often controversial production practices play into producing our world’s much-needed food. They don't understand agriculture.
And almost no one connected to agriculture - farmers, food retailers, etc. - are talking to consumers about the ins and outs of food production. Thus, it’s up to agriculture organizations to talk – connect, educate, engage - with consumers.
Agriculture organizations must take steps to close the ever-widening farm to table divide that’s developed between producers and consumers. Blogging, events, and social media provide easy access to a very open audience of “non-aggie” consumers with lots and lots of questions regarding where our food comes from.
Here are a few “millennial-friendly” connection strategies agricultural organizations can use to connect with today’s consumers:
Pioneered over twenty years ago, blogging has evolved into an essential component of any 21st-century digital communications strategy – including agriculture’s. Whether its farmer’s blogging about calving season, or a 4-Her posting about harvest, blogging provides the agricultural world a unique way to connect with non-ag consumers.
Blogs have replaced many traditional forms of information consumption and have emerged as one of the most trusted resources on the web. A recent study by HubSpot revealed organizations who blog receive 97% more links to their website – wow! That’s a lot of web traffic.
Today’s millennial consumers are learning about agriculture from non-ag influencers – like the Food Babe. The story of how food is produced is being told by people that have no idea how to drive a tractor or process cattle; the future of agriculture is reliant on agriculture professionals on meeting consumers where they are and ensuring they hear it “straight from the horse’s mouth”. Blogging provides the perfect platform for telling the story of agriculture.
Hosting agriculture events that allow non-ag consumers to “get to know agriculture” can be another great way to bridge the gap between farm to table.
A few popular event ideas include:
Inviting bloggers and media contacts (non-ag ones included) can be a great way to connect millennial consumers with faces of the industry and “behind the scenes experience”. Even if your organization cannot support an open-to-the-public event, consider incentivizing attendees to share their experiences across digital platforms with event hashtags, live streaming, and recap blog posts.
Over 80% US adult population are currently active on social media, with Facebook alone boasting more than 1 billion users. Today's consumers use social media platforms to communicate with friends and family, connect with their communities, and research purchase decisions. With competitive brands contributing to the hundreds of millions of dollars in annual social marketing spend, social media is no longer just a teenage fad – it’s an essential component for a 21st-century organization.
Development of a strong social media strategy is requirement for agriculture organizations, however, prioritizing the right platform presence is key to a successful strategy. Agriculture professionals should ensure their organizations are digitally present where consumers are – and here’s where it can get a little tricky…
Courtesy of over commercialization coupled with the presence of their parents, the Facebook feeding frenzy is over – at least for millennials. Did you know the fastest growing Facebook user demographic for the past three years has been the 65+ crowd? While Facebook is still a cornerstone social necessity, it’s common for agricultural marketers to neglect multi-platform presence.
So where are those “non-farmy” millennial consumers spending their phone swiping time? Instagram and Twitter take the cake when it comes to Gen Y user growth.
About Hannah Becker:
Becker Digital is a full-service Marketing and Public Relations Agency dedicated to empowering mission-driven organizations to reach their goals. We apply our expertise in community development, social media strategy, and public relations to connect organizational clients with today’s always-scrolling online users.