The food industry faces a number of challenges — no other market demands consideration of so many factors, from consumer demands to shifting trends, regional preferences or competitive offerings. For each of these elements, it is important to track them in real-time. For example, my firm Talkwalker, a social data intelligence company, in a recent report found that interest for the paleo diet varied heavily across the United States — people in Massachusetts mentioned the diet more than three times as often as those in Mississippi. Monitoring online conversations enables food retailers to adapt their offerings accordingly. Here are three top tips for food retailers on how to use insights from social data effectively.
1. Refine product strategy by monitoring trends and preferences by region
While one state’s favorite sweet flavor may be strawberry, it will be cherry or blueberry for others. Monitoring online conversations about such topics — from an area’s favorite flavors to new trends in nutrition — and breaking the results down into geographical regions allows companies to adapt their offerings accordingly. This kind of social market research can provide key insights for product teams who want to make sure that new products are a good fit for each region. These insights also allow grocery stores to stock the exact products customers are looking for in their region, helping them to cut down on costs.
2. Measure campaign success by benchmarking against competitors
Keeping an eye on competitors is essential to ensure the success of your own brand. Monitoring what others are doing enables companies to benchmark the performance of their own campaigns and products against others. This gives them a clearer idea of realistic campaign targets for social marketing campaigns. Two recent examples of successful campaigns on social come from Oreo: After Nabisco launched its new varieties, the #OreoThins (for a thinner cookie version) hashtag was used more than 5,000 times, while the new flavor #BrownieBatter was used over 9,000 since the product was launched in mid-August. Other indicators of success include the engagement rate, meaning how many people liked or shared selected posts on social media, and sales figures, which can easily be correlated with social media key performance indicators.
3. Refine products and messaging by tracking customer reaction
Being aware of what customers think about a brand or store and its products is key to product success. Food retailers can monitor customer reactions to a new product or changed packaging and base further developments on the insights they gained. Brands can also gauge reaction by seeing how often words like “love” and “hate” are mentioned alongside their products and tie these insights in with feedback from focus groups, saving time and money and research and further testing.
Customers are discussing food brands and products every day on social. Social listening helps food retailers understand what customers and prospects are saying about both products and brands and provides a way of measuring the success of marketing, advertising and PR campaigns on social and online media.
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