FEELINGS AND FACTS: TALKING TO CONSUMERS

There is no doubt that there is a huge push coming from consumers disconnected from the farm on practices used to produce the food that they consume. We as agriculturalists have been pushing facts hard lately to portray our points on why we choose the practices we do. But are facts that effective?

A video that was recently posted on social media states that people “make decisions based mostly on emotion instead of facts.” The video talks about how we, as people, “respond better to social and tribal dynamics.” This means that if one’s tribe (or as I like to put it, people they want to be around) believes something, that person thinks that is the honest truth, whether or not it is actually true.  Why do people do this you might ask? “It’s safer to agree with your tribe and stay united ideologically, even if you are wrong about the facts, than to disagree and isolate yourself.”

So what does that mean for us agriculturalists? We need to be connecting to consumers on a personal level. We need to portray how we are proud of what we grow and they should be proud too. Personal stories, pictures, and short videos have been shown to be super effective. People who are interested in learning where their food comes from just want to be shown (notice I did not say told) what the inside of your farm looks like. They want to see your kids working with animals, machinery moving in fields, and how the whole family really has a part in making the farm functional. They are striving to find out what your personal story is and why they should believe in you. Connecting with them that you are a consumer too and care about what you and your family eat too is a huge selling point.

Keep in mind that they are just like us and have opinions and questions too.  Be respectful to people’s opinions and by no means make them feel like they are less of a person. So go out and tell your story! Connect with people! But most importantly, keep it real!

Abby Jacobs
Illinois State University

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