Published on: February 16, 2016by Michael Sansolo
Last week the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detected actual proof of gravitational waves in our universe, confirming a phenomena that Albert Einstein predicted 100 years ago.
Apparently that’s great news. It means our scientists can now explore the universe in bold new ways far beyond simply stars and planets ... but to be honest, I don’t have a clue what they're talking about. Even after perusing articles that claimed to make these findings accessible to five-year-old readers, I’m still lost. I’m willing to bet that I’m not alone.
Be honest: You likely have a terrific sense of countless news stories from the past few weeks, from Cam Newton’s post Super Bowl moments to Chipotle food safety training. Now, there are numerous ways in which the news about gravitational waves is far more important, impacting our understanding of our place in the universe, than virtually any other story that has captivated the mainstream media.
But when it comes to Google searches, Einstein’s theories are merely a blip compared to Taylor Swift simply being Taylor Swift.
So why does this matter? Simple: it reminds us that people/consumers are logical and intelligent beings who still behave in ways that are anything but.
The reality is it’s hard to figure out what really matters to consumers. Sure, they constantly say they want to make all kinds of better choices when it comes to food, nutrition, budgeting, family and more. However, the gap between what we aspire to do and what we actually do is substantial.
The finding about gravitational waves is a great reminder of that challenge. Intellectually we know this stuff is important, but we aren’t the guys on "The Big Bang Theory" so we just move on to news that seems more relevant. Or at least more easily understandable.
The food industry faces more complex demands from shoppers than ever before and much of the industry response is pretty solid. It’s hard to find a store these days that doesn’t feature a growing variety of local or organic foods. We see constant news of product reformulations to eliminate specific ingredients.
No doubt shoppers really appreciate these changes even if they don’t fully understand them or how they impact their personal nutrition. It would be wonderful if they understood the power of simple improvements such as cooking more meals at home, eating together as families and simply remembering to wash their hands properly.
But it's like us contemplating gravitational waves. There are simply more immediate or more comprehensible things to fill our brains.
The challenge the industry has in some ways is just like those physicists at LIGO: explaining to the general population what everything actually means.
For the food industry that means the ongoing struggle to help consumers make better choices is far from over. It means constantly trying to understand the shifting value equation and helping shoppers see how your business is working to serve those needs. It means explaining the complex in ways that are useful and understandable.
Sure those are tough challenges, but put it in context. At least you don’t have to explain gravitational waves.
That would take a rocket scientist.
Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at email@example.com . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available on Amazon by clicking here. And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon by clicking here.
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