Q&A: Communicating Your Brand in the Digital Age

Interview with Steve Cole, chief marketing officer, Gladson

As more consumers utilize mobile apps as a part of their shopping experiences, it is crucial for consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies to jump into the digital conversation. Steve Cole of Gladson spoke with Food Manufacturing about how companies can harness this new technology to enhance their brand image.

Q: What are some challenges facing food companies and CPG companies today?

A: In the digital battle for the CPG shopper, consistency is key. With mobile and tablets, shoppers have an interactive list created before they even leave for the store. Impulse shopping is influenced heavily by mobile content consumed while in store, whether it be a recipe, coupon or price comparing products.

Until recently, brands have been in control of the conversation, but the rise of the informed shopper has quickly eroded the one-to-many model food retailers are used to. Equipped with new technology and more choices, today’s consumers are in the driver’s seat. Brands must ensure they’re consistently represented in new media, print, online and in-store, without diluting their message.

Q: What are GS1 standards?

A: GS1 is an international organization dedicated to the development and implementation of global specifications for the management of supply and demand chains. The standards this organization publishes are used throughout the industry and ensure product information is consistent and accurate as it moves through the supply chain — from manufacturers to stores to consumers.

Q: How can food companies benefit from following these standards?

A: Following these standards ensures that a product runs smoothly from the factory to the shelf. The standards cover everything in supply chain and logistics, from weight and dimensions to packaging and handling information for individual products, cases and pallets of product, making sure that a manufacturer’s or brand’s products fit on the truck and ultimately make it to store shelves (both virtual and brick-and-mortar).

Q: What are some of the most recent updates to the GS1 Standards that could impact food manufacturers?

A: The recent updates to the standards aim to drive waste out of the supply chain, and improve product information, safety and traceability. For manufacturers specifically, the standards address the needs of shoppers with accurate, in-depth product, packaging and nutrition information, and make the foodservice supply chain more efficient.

Q: Where do you see initiatives like the GS1 Standards heading in the next few years? What are the implications for CPG companies?

A: The standards will continue to expand and address the needs of every player — retailers, distributors, food service operators, Internet app developers and consumers. As manufacturers work to address the diverse needs of these audiences, they’ll rely on these standards to help deliver new types of content through distribution networks.

Eventually, we expect the standards will cover completely new kinds of content, including coupons and offers, more detailed descriptions, usage instructions, videos, links to complementary products, and more. Consumers are already using and consuming these kinds of content, and brands should be in control.

Q: How can Gladson help food manufacturers and CPG companies meet the GS1 Standards?

A: Gladson works with hundreds of brand owners and retailers to create, store, distribute and provide access to digital content for the products they manufacture and sell. The company is certified by GS1 US as a provider of product images and information and helps manufacturers ensure they are providing accurate, standards-compliant information to their trading partners through the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN). With an increasingly complex retail environment and growing number of players, we do the legwork to get brand content out to manufacturers, retailers, web sites and mobile apps — saving hundreds of hours coordinating and managing thousands of relationships.