What is an authentic conversation, and why is it important we focus on having them with consumers at this point in time?
Crystal Mackay of Loft32 says that an authentic conversation is focused around the point that we are all real people — no matter our position, job title, or industry. Even more importantly, it’s a conversation that isn’t one-way.
“It’s not a lecture. So I’d say our sector has been a bit guilty of one-way conversations. We decide we’re going to put out a brochure, or put out a book, or put out a video. It’s very one way, very ‘let us teach you about all the things you don’t know about.’ That has evolved in the last couple of years, but we can keep getting better,” Mackay notes.
The first step to encouraging these two-way conversations is listening — not just nodding your head in agreement, but really truly listening — and giving constructive feedback on the conversation. Just because an opinion differs from yours, doesn’t mean the other party is wrong, and they may have something of value you can learn as well.
Mackay, who also sits on the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB) board, says a great example of these authentic conversations is a social media campaign that was launched over summer of 2020.
“The question we posed was ‘Can beef help heal the planet?’ It’s a very controversial statement, which goes against what some people may think. And part of it was to be prepared for negative feedback,” she explains. “For us to say ‘hey, tell us why you don’t believe that?’ Tell us what you think. What are you worried about? So it was a two way conversation, and I think that’s really important.”
The authentic part of the conversation, says Mackay, needs to be focused on sharing credible information, not selling you a product.
“I want people to have good information, and I don’t care what your food choices at the end of the day are, as long as you based it on reliable information that is good for you,” she explains. “Vegans, broccoli lovers, beef lovers, whatever — now tell me why you want to make that choice and I’ll help you with accurate information. So authenticity includes not trying to sell a product or push your views on other people.”