Over the last 4 years I have been to the Allergy & Free From Show as a visitor, exhibitor and speaker. As an allergic person I am personally interested & invested in the show and rooting for its continued success and expansion. However there is one thing I’ve noticed that many exhibitors forget. They have forgotten the most important thing about their customers: they have severe food allergies and or coeliac disease.
You might think “that’s ridiculous, how can we forget about our target audience?” Well from personal experience, many businesses do.
As an allergy sufferer I know a business is not catering to my demographic (supposedly your target audience) when they cannot confidently tell me what ingredients are included in the food they are serving or the allergen information. Basically they have forgotten one of the most important parts of allergic living, not to mention not following EU rules.
Why The Allergy & Free From Show is Brilliant
For businesses, exhibitions are a brilliant place to interact with your target audience. If free from customers are your audience, the Allergy & Free From Show gather your ideal customers in one place. That’s why you as a business go to exhibitions after all.
You can not only reach potential new customers but also connect and build a stronger relationship with your current customers. You can also do market research. Many allergy parents and allergy sufferers want to tell you about themselves, their allergies and their needs. Most of the time companies will pay huge amounts of money for focus groups. The information you can gather at the show is a bonus!
Just listen to when I interviewed Elizabeth D Bakes, she confirms that as someone with no allergies herself the Allergy & Free From Shows were invaluable for her business to get to know their customers better!
Why You Are Shooting Yourself in the Foot
As someone with a life threatening allergy, when caterers or businesses “umm” and “ahh” about whether there are nuts in the food or a may contain, my automatic answer is “no, thanks” and I move on to the next place. (And this has happened pretty much every year I have visited the show unfortunately.)
The problem for you as a business is, I will tell my other allergy friends and my customers that your business has no idea what you are talking about and don’t bother trying. In that short interaction you have lost 1 customer for sure, and potentially whoever else I talk to…That could be a lot of customers in a day or a weekend.
I acknowledge I may not be your target audience, but if you are a advertising to be allergy friendly in some way, you need to know the facts of your product.
Even if I cannot eat your product, if you know your product ingredients and allergen information, I will thank you! If it’s not safe I would rather you tell me it’s not safe rather than bend the truth and I end up in hospital. (This is what I tell my coaching clients too.)
If you can be honest about what it is and isn’t free from, I would be more likely to recommend you to someone else I know who might enjoy your products even if I’m allergic. That little bit of preparation to know your product and talk to me, your customer, could have gained you customers.
What it All Comes Down To
It all comes down to trust. As I have just said, if an allergy sufferers cannot trust you they will not buy from you. Although you may be targeting the vegan market primarily, which usually has more disposable income to spend than the allergy community, to discount the allergy community completely simply on this point would be wrong.
The allergy community are the most loyal customers.
1️⃣ For one, allergies are often for life.
2️⃣ Second, when we know a product is safe, we will stick with you.
Two Sides to the Story…
Think about your own life. If you or your child likes a certain food, you will probably buy that brand over another when it’s convenient.
On the other hand, if you are dealing with life threatening allergies, if there is only one brand/product that won’t kill you or your child, you will stick with that product. When your friends, family, colleagues or your child’s school ask what they can buy for you thats safe you will say, “product xyz is safe, buy this one, don’t buy others.” Not only that, for allergy kids people will travel for that safe product, which in business terms means super customer which equals £$€.
This allergy customer could have found your product at the Allergy & Free From Show. They also now trust you because you took that little extra time to prepare and then talk to them. Now they are shouting your praises from the rooftops and tell everyone they know to buy your products. So you can see what a knock on effect just simply being clear on the ingredients and allergen information can do.
How You Can Prepare Your Business for Exhibiting at the Allergy and Free From Show
- Know the ingredients of your product.
- Know the allergen information and potential cross-contamination.
- Know how each product is manufactured and potential cross-contamination risks (including supplier line).
- If making fresh food at the exhibition, make sure your staff, after they’ve had a snack break or lunch, do not contaminate the food with allergens!
- Train all your staff working at the exhibition on the above 4 points!
- Have an allergen information sheet easily visible for people to look at.
- Take the time to talk to your customers and answer their questions.
- Be honest and truthful!
I will be speaking at the Allergy & Free From London 2018 on Friday 6th July 3pm on Travelling with Allergies and Sunday 8th July at 3pm about Beat Allergy Anxiety and Building Confidence. Come and say hi after one of my talks or if you see me walking around please introduce yourself 🙂
Alternatively, for more information or to work with me please send me an email.