4 Ways Food Brands Can Engage Consumers
Updated: Jan 16
Grocery sales are more competitive than ever. The competition amongst food brands has only been heightened by the expansion of supermarket own-brand ranges that are in many cases on par with branded products. Jet.com, an e-tailer that was bought by Walmart in 2016, launched its own private-label brand just this week. In order to win the battle in the grocery aisles, both online and offline, food brands need to differentiate themselves from the pack. But how?
70% of consumers are more likely to buy from brands that employ personalisation strategies, and 61% spend more money with those brands. Personalisation is nothing however without data. While retailers have access to more data about their customers than many of them know what to do with it, food brands often do not. It's no surprise, therefore, that direct-to-consumer selling is on the rise. Brands gain access to a wealth of information about shoppers as well as their browsing and purchasing habits and can use this information to create a more personalised experience. Through the Unilever Foundry, Hellmann's recently partnered with Quiqup to engage with millennial audiences through direct-to-consumer shopping. With access to relevant data, food brands can optimise their websites by, for example, putting the right recipe in front of the right person at the right time. If a customer has expressed a strong interest in quick and easy Mexican dishes and has a preference for recipes by Gizzi Erskine, using this information to personalise their experience will make the customer feel valued and more likely to convert.
Pop-ups are big business. UK retailers who are taking advantage of shopper demand for in-store events and experiences have seen annual turnover increase by an average of 14%. For food brands, pop-ups represent an interactive way for consumers to engage with the brand both in-store and online through social sharing. Experiential retail may well be the future of retail, but it doesn't have to just exist offline. Dr Oetker excels at this. Their regular baking competitions engage baking fans who want to show off their skills, while the recipes themselves encourage people to purchase several Dr Oetker products in order to achieve the perfect bake. Retail experiences create an emotional connection between the consumer and the brand, allowing customers to see it as more than just a necessary transaction
Nothing has captured the imagination of foodies more than video, and food brands are embracing the trend. Short, snappy hyperlapse videos are highly shareable and consumable on the go. In a three month period from October to December 2016, BuzzFeed Tasty drove over 85 million Facebook engagements on video content alone. Hyperlapse food videos make recipes accessible and encourage users to try them and share their experiences. And while food brands like Keelings and Lyle's Golden Syrup have effectively used hyperlapse videos, live video has yet to reach its full potential. With live video, the benefits are obvious. Food brands can engage with customers and potential customers in real-time, answering questions and sharing useful, relevant information that will endear the brand to consumers.
'Influencer' has almost become a dirty word, but food brands can leverage the authority associated with relevant, trustworthy food bloggers and celebrity chefs with impressive results in our experience. Over an eight week period, we shared links to celebrity chef recipes on our website via Twitter. On analysing the data, we found that celebrity chef retweets of the content resulted in a 43% increase in website sessions versus days when they didn't share the recipes. Consumers trust celebrity chefs and they have an emotional attachment to them. An endorsement from an influencer to a large audience of loyal followers has the potential to increase traffic substantially, and engaging content will help seal the deal.
Since about one-fifth of all grocery spending, totalling $100 billion, is expected to come from online shoppers by 2024, food brands need to consider the implications of this change in grocery retail on their sales. Investing in personalisation strategies and embracing direct-to-consumer sales will pay dividends in the future. In such a competitive market, grabbing the attention of digitally native millennials and post-millennials now will help food brands stay ahead of the opposition going forward.