The 1-2-3 Guide to Reputation Management for Food Brands

by | Oct 19, 2022 | Food Service

You should never underestimate the power of reputation management for food brands. 

Brand reputation refers to opinions, perceptions, and beliefs of a company’s image by the general public, customers, and stakeholders. Reputation management is the strategy these brands use to oversee and respond to customer interactions, reviews, comments, and complaints.

Food brand reputation management includes word of mouth, press or food critic publications, and, most importantly, a brand’s online presence. A simple Google search of your brand will tell you what the general public says about your company, quality, products, and level of service. 

What can you do to manage your food brand’s reputation? Let’s take a look.

Key Takeaways:

  • Reputation management is the strategy these brands use to oversee and respond to customer reviews, comments, and posts.
  • Reputation management is especially vital to food brands because food safety is a matter of public health, and one adverse incident can result in a brand going out of business.
  • Effective food brand reputation management includes enriching the customer experience, managing your online presence, and responding professionally to comments and reviews.
  • People trust brands that are transparent and offer a personal point of contact to address questions, concerns, and problems they are having with the brand or one of its products.

Why Reputation Management Matters 

Reputation management is especially vital to food brands because food safety is a matter of public health, and one adverse incident can result in a brand going out of business (or worse, being sued). 

One instance is the E. Coli outbreak in the early 1990s involving contaminated meat served at restaurants in California, Washington, Nevada, and Idaho. It was an unfortunate situation that resulted in hospitalizations and even a few deaths. Incidents like this impact a brand’s reputation, and years later, most never regain favor in the public eye as they once did.  

The strategies they put in place after the incident kept the restaurants impacted open. Their efforts to improve brand reputation through effective reputation management worked to:

  • Improve sales
  • Build trust and credibility
  • Showcase positive profile
  • Gain online insights
  • Enhance recruitment
  • Manage conflict resolution

infograph of why reputation management matters

Image Courtesy of Lead x Design

Along with improving how people see the brand from the outside, let’s discuss how reputation management for food brands impacts the company internally. 

Employees 

Employee experiences impact customer experiences. 

Happy employees work harder and offer better customer service than employees of brands that don’t. Employee retention also improves when a brand has an effective reputation management strategy. 

For instance, you are less likely to lose employees due to burnout from dealing with unhappy customers due to reputation mismanagement. 

Investors  

Sometimes to expand, a food brand will take on investors to help grow production. Stakeholders consider risk, and a brand with a bad reputation will not get the investors they need to get the capital to scale.

Revenue 

It may seem like a no-brainer, but it cannot go without mention. More than half (54%) of customers will not buy from brands they do not trust. A company cannot generate revenue without sales.

5 Strategies for Reputation Management for Food Brands 

Food brands spend tens of thousands (even millions in some cases) of dollars on brand and reputation building. Here’s how these food brands spend these marketing dollars:

1. Enrich the Customer Experience  

Food brand reputation management isn’t effective if your company has flaws with its customer experience (CX). The best way to prevent this is to create an exceptional end-to-end CX strategy. The following are some things to consider:

  • Offer high-quality products: Cutting corners hurts quality. Products that do not live up to customer expectations damage brand reputation. It’s best to avoid this, even for the sake of profit. You will not sell more of something that is low quality, so getting it cheaper doesn’t improve sales. 
  • Enable seamless transactions: Customers don’t want to wait in long lines or deal with tricky checkout processes. Streamline purchases with seamless transactions with reliable POS stations, speedy checkout features, and contactless payment options, to name a few.
  • Provide exceptional customer support: If a customer does have a question or concern, offering stellar customer support garners favor among consumers. 
  • Have a simple and easy return/refund policy: One way to guarantee happy customers is to simplify the return process. Empower employees to authorize returns. Management doesn’t need to get involved unless the staff or customer escalates.

2. Manage the Brand’s Online Presence 

Your brand’s online presence is one of the most critical aspects of reputation management. There are 3.7 billion daily social media users worldwide. Billions more that use Google or yelp to search for brand reviews. 

With information readily available in the palms of the hands of your customers, online reviews, post comments, and social media engagements must receive your attention. You must: 

  • Professionally respond to reviews   
  • Engage with all social media posts when possible
  • Personally address customer complaints
  • Manage online brand mentions directly

Your online brand presence is arguably the most prevalent. A potential customer can check what posts on the Internet say about your product during the buying decision. 

A bad review can be why the shopper puts your product back on the shelf, or a dinner chooses a different establishment to eat at. The information in your online presence is available in real-time while customers decide where to spend their money.

Infograph of social media trends marketers should watch in 2022

Image Courtesy of HubSpot

3. Increase Exposure Whenever Possible   

Exposure is the key to brand awareness, and you can’t have a reputation (good or bad) if nobody has heard of your brand. Getting your brand seen by consumers and giving your company a face of the brand instills more trust than some “faceless” corporate giant. 

Food Brand Reputation Management with SIAL America  

People trust food brands that engage with them, remain transparent, and offer a personal point of contact. Attending or becoming an exhibitor at the next SIAL America event and trade show is a great way to gain exposure for your food brand, giving potential customers a chance to place a face on the brand. 

Build your food brand’s reputation as one of the best in your specialty. Attend our next show, or become an exhibitor. We look forward to seeing you there!