Other than the technicality of recessions needing to last at least 6 months to be “declared”, we are almost certainly in a recession right now. While food is a recession proof need, there’s no such security on the brand level. With people needing to tighten their belts, and around the patterns of how consumers get and prepare their food radically changing, there’s a tremendous amount of risk and opportunity around the topic of Food brand loyalty.
Social media is more important than ever, and making sure your brand is top of mind for the audience around purchasing is the new status quo. In that context, ListenFirst has created a special report on Food Industry: Social Media in the Time of the Coronavirus to help marketers make sure that they’re armed with the best practices for outreach in this challenging environment. Out of that timely report, here are 5 essential social insights on how to navigate Food industry marketing during the current moment.
Social Insight #1: Canned Foods Are Becoming More Relevant To Consumers
The report found that Canned Goods is the fastest growing Food industry category on social media since people started staying at home. Soup, Chili, and Canned Goods brands have averaged 120.32% more weekly content responses per post, looking at the week of March 9, 2020 to the week of April 13, 2020; compared to the week of March 4, 2019 to the week of April 15, 2019. In the same time period comparison, Grocery brands have averaged 103.13% more responses per post, while Pet Foods have averaged 50.17% more responses per social media post. ListenFirst responses measure the volume of reactions, comments, shares, retweets, and likes that new posts receive on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
These are the Food industry categories that the social media audience is proportionally more interested in hearing from since the pandemic began.
Social Insight #2: Frozen Desserts Is The CPG Food Category Facing The Most Challenges On Social Media
Grocery has always been one of the leaders in social media engagement within the food industry, and this year has overtaken Frozen Desserts as the frontrunner on social media. Looking at January 6 – April 19, 2020 compared to January 7 – April 21, 2019, there were 1,464 average responses to posts by Grocery brands, an increase of 48.78% year over year. This is no surprise given that grocery stores are ”essential” during Covid-19 and have become de facto hubs that are often the only place people are venturing out to during the pandemic. In general, most food industry categories have seen a rise in engagement from 2019, as food has taken on a larger significance in people’s daily lives. Only the Frozen Desserts category has seen a notable decrease in social engagement year over year, now averaging 790 responses per post, which was down -37.25% from the same time period last year.
While ice cream definitely qualifies as comfort food, it appears that the social media audience is less likely to engage with ice cream content now, as the world has become a more serious place where people are more focused on bare essentials not luxury items, even as that relates to food. One way for Frozen Dessert brands to pivot is to also get more serious. For instance Ben & Jerry generated 61,493 responses around an Instagram post in conjunction with the ACLU talking about how people of color are being left behind around cannabis legalization. Van Leeuwen Ice Cream also received 6,319 responses around a post talking about how they donated 471 gallons of Van Leeuwen Ice Cream to 29 hospitals across NYC.
Social Insight #3: Immunity Is No Longer Just Relevant In Social Media Posts About Survivor
If you have a CPG product with proven immunity-boosting abilities, a great time to bring it up is in the middle of the worst public health crisis of our lifetimes. Brands that highlighted how their products could boost immunity and provide nutrients have found the social media audience more receptive to ‘protect your health’ messaging because of the pandemic. For instance, likes, comments and shares were up 374% for Limoneira, 178% for Delmonte, and 122% for Healthy Planet while people are under shelter-at-home orders, looking at March 16 – April 19 compared to February 10 – March 15, 2020. Limoneira focused on how their lemons contain immunity boosting vitamin C, Del Monte’s talked about their Vitamin C-rich Mandarin-Carrot Juice recipe, while Health Planet hosted a free Health Webinar discussing the link between gut health and immunity.
Granted, getting more Vitamin C is no replacement for washing your hands and wearing face masks, but boosting your immunity can only help and, if nothing else, the last thing anyone wants to be dealing with is COVID-19 and a more common virus at the same time.
Social Insight #4: Between 3am-6am PST Is The Best Time For Food Posts On Instagram
With so many people now working from home, food marketers need to reevaluate when is the best time to post on social media. When analyzing the top 1,000 Food industry posts on Instagram the week of April 6-12, 2020; 89% of the posts were uploaded during the 6am-6pm PST timeframe. However, the real goldmine for posting is between 3am-6am PST when the content response rate for top food industry posts was at 0.41%. In comparison, the Food industry released the highest amount of their top 1,000 performing Instagram posts during 9am-12pm PST when the content responses rate was only 0.21%. Posting in the early morning, when there’s less competition from other Food brands in people’s feeds, is currently the best time for the Food industry to post on Instagram.
Social Insight #5: The Audience Being Stuck At Home Is Making Facebook More Relevant to CPG Marketers
ListenFirst also found that social audiences are far more likely to engage with content shared by food brands on Facebook now that people are stuck at home. Comparing the week of April 13-19 to January 6-12, 2020, the volume of content responses Food brands received on Facebook increased by 54.24%, with the volume of content responses peaking during the week of March 23 specifically. During this week, brands posted about how they were helping support essential workers, grocery stores posted about store openings, and food brands found a way to share important information to their loyal customers. In comparison, during the week of April 13 compared to the week of January 6, Instagram content responses for the Food industry was up by 11.38%.
Some examples of Food brands doing especially well on Facebook while people are stuck at home is Eight O’Clock receiving 54,011 responses to a post where they talked about giving away free coffee to a grocery store worker every day in April. ACME Markets generated 29,141 responses for a Facebook post discussing that 7am-9am Monday through Friday is now meant as shopping hours for senior citizens only. For messaging directly related to COVID-19 issues, Facebook is performing especially well as a platform for food brands.
Times are tough for consumers right now, but brands that are able to understand shifting social media habits will be in the best position to reach the audiences with messaging about how they can help. By using a social media analytics tool that’s tracking and understanding the entire Food industry, brands can make more informed decisions about how to target their outreach during this very challenging time.