CFI Offers Insights Into Consumer Trust

Kelly MarshallFood

The Center for Food Integrity (CFI) conducts an annual consumer study to better understand how to earn consumer trust. Their latest research approach has identified influential consumer groups and made an effort to understand how they not only dictate food trends, but drive conversations that impact the decisions of others.

In a first-of-its-kind method, the 2016 survey used digital ethnography that can provide insights like unspoken motivations, values, top-of-mind issues, emotional triggers, preferred social channels and sources, behaviors and trusted brands. This kind of research provides a greater understanding of how to connect to consumers because the information provided goes beyond what people say and pinpoints what they actually do.

“We’re currently in the midst of a shift in the marketplace where the culture and conversation around conventional food, particularly online, is changing as consum­ers navigate which foods to adopt, moderate or abandon,” said Charlie Arnot, CFI CEO. “Digital ethnography identifies influencers who shape those trends.”

Understanding consumer beliefs is critical, since past research has shown that communicating through values is three-to-five times more effective than communicating with facts and science, Arnot explains.

The most significant group was identified as the “Provider,” representing one third of the population. “Providers never feel quite good enough,” said Leigh Horner, vice president, communications and CSR at The Hershey Company. “And the last thing they want is to be seen as a neglectful parent or to be caught snoozing when some­thing new is known about the foods they buy for their family. To ease the anxi­ety, they look to other Consumer Types for guidance.”

To download a summary of the research, “Inside the Minds of Influencers: The Truth About Trust,” and register for the Thursday., Jan. 19, CFI 2016 research webinar, visit Complete research results, which include in-depth insights, detailed audience segmentation and trust-building engagement strategies, are provided to CFI members. To learn more about accessing the full research report, contact CFI at or (816) 556-3141.