Navigating the Future: Insights Heading into the WMU Food Marketing Conference: Contextual Commerce

Reid Klintworth - Director, Growth & Development

This week, I have the privilege of attending the WMU Food Marketing Conference. It’s a special moment for me to reengage with my undergrad alma mater (Go Broncos), and an opportunity to connect with some of the brightest minds in food marketing. This industry is facing massive shifts in consumer preferences toward healthier food options and overall consumption changes, and consumers are seeking expanded digital and e-commerce experiences that offer more personalization and efficiency.  

I'm looking forward to hearing industry experts talk about these topics and more, helping to ensure that at Hart, we’re doing all we can to continue assisting our food and beverage clients evolve alongside the industry. 

Here are a few topics we’re keeping an eye on:

1. The Shift from Standard Retail Commerce to Contextual Commerce 

When you try to distill why we’ve seen this shift to contextual commerce, you truly must look at mobile dominance among consumers today and the emergence of a wide variety of platforms. It’s this connectivity that has forced food and beverage advertisers to meet consumers where they are, versus forcing them into a transactional structure that may be unfamiliar or off-putting.  

At its core, contextual commerce refers to a practice of integrating seamless purchasing into contextually aligned content and or experiences. An example of this would be using a social app and coming across a piece of clothing that you want to buy. In a standard process, you’d have to leave the app and you would organically go to the brand’s site, then you’d have to identify the items you were exploring. All of this happens before you are even prompted to make a purchase. With contextual commerce, you can buy that piece of clothing and others right from within the native app in a shoppable experience. This relies on leveraging contextual cues such as:

  • Behavior and preference
  • Location
  • Content and contextual relevance
  • Device and platform context
  • Temporal 
When you start to look at food marketing and where these contextual alignments can happen, these are some great examples:

  • Social media platforms
  • Recipe websites
  • Food blogs
  • Food delivery apps
  • Augmented reality
  • Voice Commerce

At the conference, I am personally most excited to hear from Katie Hotze, Founder and CEO of Grocery Shopii, who will be leading “The Rise of Contextual Commerce in Grocery” discussion and I hope to follow up with more thoughts. 

2. The Audiences Driving This Shift 

It’s difficult to point to one singular audience that is driving this shift because there are multiple generations of consumers causing it, but overall, you have to look at the most mobile-connected and tech-savvy audiences, who prefer a more personalized shopping experience: 

  • Gen Y Millennials (1981-1996) 
  • Gen Z (1997-2012)
  • Gen X (1965-1980)
  • Younger Baby Boomers (1955-1964)
We’ve noted that Gen Y millennials and Gen Z are two of the largest groups of influencers. While technological advancements have fueled the growth of contextual commerce, these two audiences are fueling the high rate of adoption of contextual commerce consumption practices. 

3. What Can We Expect Next? 

Contextual commerce is currently in its infancy, and we can reasonably expect a great deal of evolution and adaptation in the near future. As we at Hart continue to look for the best solutions to get our food and beverage clients in front of their key targets, we know contextual commerce will be critical in moving the needle. You can expect many new companies to rise within this space. While many already exist, the market is working to mature, and we believe the best has yet to come. Here are some potential advancements to keep an eye on: 

  • Better integration of AI and machine learning 
  • AR/VR advancements 
  • Voice and conversational commerce advancements 
  • Omni-channel improvements and online/offline channel blending 
  • Hyper-personalization 
  • Blockchain and cryptocurrency integration 
  • Continued growth of sustainable and ethical consumer commerce preferences 

While we can’t predict the future, what we can say is that consumers’ preferences are ever-changing, and right now, they expect you to meet them where they are. Additionally, as we enter a cookie-less world, contextual signals will be more prevalent than ever to help advertisers reach their growth goals. 

From our perspective as a brand transformation agency that focuses on taking consumers from apathy to advocacy, contextual commerce will be incredibly important to our clients and their continued success. Here are some reasons why you should consider it as well: 

  • Enhanced targeting and relevance 
  • Improved user experience 
  • Higher conversion rates 
  • Higher basket values 
  • Data-driven insights 
  • Seamless integration with e-commerce: Discovery to purchase 
If you’re heading to the Food Marketing Conference at WMU, let’s connect! 

Reid Klintworth, Director Growth & Development
C: 231.944.3216