February 23, 2012
A new study from food and nutrition marketing agency Publicis Consultants USA and consumer research firm The Hartman Group shows that social media is redefining Americans’ relationship with food.“Clicks & Cravings: The Impact of Social Technology on Food Culture” reveals that personal relationships provide cues for food and beverage marketers and that “social/digital media is replacing mom as the go-to culinary source of knowledge for many people.”
Half of consumers learn about food from social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook and 40 percent learn about it from websites, apps or blogs, according to the research. Rather than listening to trusted resources and family members, consumers are crowdsourcing others’ opinions online when choosing recipes, planning meals and deciding what to cook or buy.
While eating or drinking at home, nearly one-third of Americans and 47 percent of Millennials use social networking sites, the study says. And those who eat alone are often texting with friends or posting photos to a review site.
The study also shows that food and grocery brands need to have more than just some followers and a presence in the virtual space; they have to create a personal and enriching relationship with consumers that will ultimately yield brand advocates.
Findings from “Clicks & Cravings” revealed that consumers’ social media behavior “falls along a continuum of engagement” in the food and grocery category, and that brands should customize their strategies for each type of user. The three tiers of consumer engagement that the study notes are: Spectators (use social media for product reviews, recipes and good deals), Dreamers (use social media to curate and push content, and hope to have more influence), and Doers (use social media to create content that inspires their followers). These Doers are the most engaged type of consumer and are the core of food and social media. — Amy Jacques