Social Media Has Changed The Way We Eat And Market Food.

Remember when you had to buy a cookbook to find a recipe, not Pinterest search? Or when Mom showed you how to cook, not a YouTube video?

Where do you turn for recipes and dinner ideas? Brands such as Campbell's are leveraging social channels like Pinterest.
Where do you turn for recipes and dinner ideas? Brands such as Campbell’s are leveraging social channels like Pinterest.

The Hartman Group recently presented findings from ethnographic research of everyday life and food. A lot has changed. Dinner ideas now come from: 20% Pinterest, 18% Medical Professional, 25% Website and 89% own network of close friends.

Consumers now look to bloggers and social media networks for opinions to make food decisions. Point of purchase decisions can be influenced by Facebook, Twitter and Instagram news feeds on your phone. The study also reveals that most buying decisions about what to have for dinner happen two hours before mealtime. As a marketer you need to figure out ways to be in that social media news feed at the right time.

Other social media food insights include:

  • At least 2 out of 3 daily meals are now eaten alone; while online.
  • Most households who do eat together often eat different meals according to taste preferences.
  • First time online food shoppers first try buying groceries online because they took advantage of a Groupon offer.
  • Most use a phone while in the store to call or text home and ask the question: “what do you want to eat tonight?”

Food and beverages are also a foundation of community online. Other Hartman Group research talks of consumers using their imaginations through social media to learn about “a friend’s crepe technique or a blogger’s chai experience in Mumbai without leaving home.” Wherever they go virtually, the result is often a real trip to the grocery store. People consume much more social media content than they create. This is a real opportunity. So much of my work on food and beverage brands was to create content to remind consumers of the brand.

ADWEEK characterizes these trends as consumers, “… going back to their hunter-gatherer roots, but the bowls and stone knives are now blog posts and tweets.” Today, 52% of Facebook users have “liked” a food/beverage brand while 43% use social media to plan meals. The local-food movement is also feeding off increased social media use.

Local farmers like Massy Creek Farms are now profitable businesses selling sustainable food through social media marketing. A Facebook landing page and a fan base of 665 customers keeps them going with some social fans representing $500-a-week wholesale orders.

Social Food Communities are also springing up. Digital companies like Farmigo and Nextdoororganics enable collaborative consumption. Just because these efforts are local doesn’t mean they are small. Willard Bishop research estimates that fresh-food e-commerce will grow faster than all other grocery categories through 2017 outpacing discount clubs like Sam’s Club.

Restaurants use FarmersWeb to find premium producers while using social media for marketing to attract new customers. Christophe Hille, founder of a New York City restaurant says, “I am actually shocked by the responsiveness of Instagram users. “Every weekend, my pastry chef sends me a photo for brunch that I post on Instagram, and people on the app comment, ‘I will be there in 30 minutes’—and then they actually show up.”

If you are a food or beverage brand, are you leveraging social media? Have your marketing efforts caught up with consumer’s social media eating habits?

Which Came First The Product Or Value?

As a marketer I’m always looking for a good connection between product attributes and values that consumers care about. Because if you can convince a consumer that they can achieve that value by purchasing your product you have a strong emotional appeal.

In my Consumer Behavior class we study the Rokeach Value Survey which classifies values into terminal values like happiness which is a desired end state and instrumental values like ambition which is a prefered behavior to get you there. Mostly I’m trying to get students to think beyond simply marketing product benefits like “fast” for a sports car. Instead we should try to leverage the instrumental or terminal values a target consumer wants to feel. Your message and creative should match product with that value.

For example, does the new Dodge Charger make the driver feel “fast?” Or does driving it activate their instrumental value of “independence” or terminal value of “freedom?” This consumer is chosing an American muscle car in a recession during high gas prices. How does that consumer’s values differ from the value one feels driving a Mazda Miata or a Porsche Boxster?

Going a step further from product characteristics like “fast” for sports cars to values like “independence” and “freedom” can create product differentiation and powerful emotional appeals. Can you see how Dodge has been using consumer values to segment their marketing from other “fast” cars?