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Hillshire Farms: Building Consumer Empathy and Profiting
By: Heather Ewert
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Do you ever have a spontaneous craving for a specific food? Maybe you’re getting the mail and you catch a whiff of the neighbors cooking something delicious — now your tummy’s rumbling, and you want to pop in and ask what that delicious-smelling spice is. Or maybe you’re shopping in the mall and the scent of a fresh-baked cinnamon roll wafts past you. Well, now you want to get your hands on one of those syrupy-sweet treats.

So of course you’ve had that spontaneous craving — we all have — and the meat company Hillshire Farm focuses on making you crave their delicious deli cuts and flavorful meatballs.

Spontaneous consumption. That’s what they call it. The name is catchy, and it matches the feeling that is invoked by smelling fresh food. Sally Grimes, Chief Innovation Officer at Hillshire Farm, seems to understand exactly what it takes to connect to a customer on such a personal level.

According to Ms. Grimes, it’s absolutely imperative to focus on consumer empathy. This means that in order to create meaningful bonds with customers, you must understand where the customer is coming from before you begin to work on brand building. Seems simple, right? Then why do so many companies seem to get it all wrong?

Hillshire Farm aims to appeal to the modern American's diet with convenient, affordable, and healthy foods. Americans now consume an average of nearly five small meals a day, yet they spend less time on food preparation than ever before. This is where consumer empathy comes in. A customer might think something like: "This particular brand understands what I need to have a delicious, healthy meal on the go, or whenever I have a craving. It’s convenient for me, and I’m going to keep buying their products."

By introducing such “spontaneous consumption” opportunities, Hillshire Farm is connecting with customers in a personal way. Their products are a good method of incorporating healthy, craveable food into a modern American’s busy life.

When building your brand, it’s best to start from the customer’s place. Who is your target audience? What do they want in general? How are their lives organized — and how can your product be a benefit to their daily routines? How can you, as a marketer, ensure that your brand conveys consumer empathy so that customers want to use your product time and again?

Whether you use a clever play on words such as spontaneous consumption, or you go for a more understated method of building your brand image, one thing is for certain: Consumers enjoy an honest company. Genuinely connect with your customers on a personal level and watch your branding efforts pay off!


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About the Author
Heather Ewert is a content writer for an internet marketing company. She enjoys creative writing as well and blogs in her personal time at http://infernoofcool.wordpress.com/. She lives in sunny Southern California with her boyfriend, Snowshoe kitty, and her collection of Warcraft novels.
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