When it comes to learning about food, nearly half of consumers use social networking sites, and 40% use websites, apps or blogs, according to the study from The Hartman Group and Publicis Consultants. Does this mean that consumers have become savvier eaters? We asked food & beverage marketing expert and CEO of The Baddish Group, Laura Baddish, for her observations:
Muck Rack: How has social media changed the way Americans shop for food, plan meals, and cook?
Laura Baddish: Consumers who have an appetite for new culinary finds and techniques know no borders. They are driving innovation, improvement and demanding the best, freshest, newest and healthiest ingredients - from the farm to the supermarket or grocery aisle.
We always had stand-by-meals in our meal repertoire, but social media has definitely expanded impromptu dishes and created ‘runs’ to the supermarket. This method of preparing menus and shopping hearkens back to when we did go to the market several times a week rather than loading the Mom-mobile once a week.
MR: How have food and beverages brands responded to the impact of social media?
LB: Marketers can immediately track consumer trends and preferences and earnestly begin one-on-one dialogues with consumers. It also lets us see what competitors are doing and in many cases inspires new thinking and recipe ideas.
MR: Are there any food or beverage brands/categories that are inappropriate for social media/why?
LB: Social media levels the playing field for everyone - from large producers, craft spirits to artisanal ice creams. It provides a voice, communication channel, and tells a story. The choice should be up to consumers on who they should follow/interact with on social media channels.
MR: What do you see as the next “big thing” in social media for the food and beverage industry?
LB: I think there will be a lot more sharing among brands that are complementary. I also think that trusted brands will continue to harness consumer support and enthusiasm. I see social media as a way to propel the growth of more food start ups.
There will be more sites like Food52, an online food community that creates cookbooks, debates food news, and helps others with a real-time food Q&A — the Food52 Hotline. And other “communities” that will create voices that can make us look at food more critically.