In the last few years, marketing has shifted from being an art and a skill that was done through face-to-face interactions to a digital world that is accessible 24/7. As a result, the way we market and sell products has changed forever. While some industries have adapted better than others, the hospitality and food service sectors have been significantly affected.
Why are online marketing and social media so important to the food and beverage industry?
If you’re reading this, I assume you’re already somewhat familiar with the importance of social media to the food industry. If you’re unfamiliar, let me give you a brief overview of how social media functions within the context of food marketing.
The vast majority of food-related businesses have a social media page. These pages allow the business to engage with customers through blogs, videos, and photos. Engagement with customers is crucial in the food industry since 40% of consumers are likely to buy while on social media. This is compared to 20% among those who read online reviews and 12% among those who watch videos.
How are the biggest brands utilizing social media in retail marketing?
You may be familiar with the term “retail marketing” if you’re reading this. Retail marketing happens when a brand interacts with customers (e.g., via social media) to encourage them to make a purchase. Typically, retailers do this to increase sales and grow their business.
Some of the biggest brands in the world are using social media to engage with customers, build credibility, and encourage them to make purchases. These brands include Subway, Starbucks, and Sephora. For example, Starbucks uses various social platforms to encourage consumers to visit their stores, meet other customers, and make purchases. On their behalf, I would like to share with you some of the most successful strategies that these brands have implemented.
The Subway “Fresh Fit” Strategy
Subway restaurants offer a variety of fresh food options, including salads, sandwiches, and pizza. To encourage customers to try their new “Fresh Fit” menu items, Subway offers prizes and discounts in exchange for social media activity, such as “liking” and sharing their posts.
The strategy behind the “Fresh Fit” menu is to appeal to health-conscious individuals who are seeking a quick and easy meal. To encourage consumers to try the new menu items, the brand offers discounts and prizes for those who engage with them on social media. For example, if a customer shares a picture of themselves eating a sandwich from the new menu item on social media, they’ll receive a discount code for that particular sandwich at a future visit. Similarly, someone who “likes” a Fresh Fit blog post will be entered into a draw to win an Apple Watch.
Starbucks’ “Beats Music” Strategy
If you’ve ever been to a Starbucks store, you may have noticed they have multiple microphones spaced around the store. These mics are responsible for recording all of the audio that is played through the P.A. system. The recorded content is then analyzed to find patterns and determine what music is played where.
Starbucks uses this analytical tool—called the “Beats Music” platform—to determine what music is the most appropriate for different store locations. The tool also helps the company find new songs to play in the stores. The restaurant chain claims that the tool helps them determine the “evolution of a song’s popularity over time in different regions.”
To find out what music is played at their Seattle headquarters, Starbucks tests out new songs at the office and then shares which songs are most successful.
The process of analyzing songs and then playing them at Starbucks stores is called “test-and-learn.” After a song is proven successful in Seattle, the company will play it at other stores. They also publish the results of their analysis on their blog to show other locations the popular songs that are currently being played at their Seattle headquarters.
Sephora’s “Colorful Revolution” Strategy
Sephora is a luxury beauty brand that currently operates more than 2,600 stores worldwide. To learn more about their skin care and makeup products, Sephora encourages customers to test them out and provides in-store demonstrations. This strategy is called “try-before-you-buy.”
To encourage potential customers to try their products, Sephora offers coupons and discounts in exchange for social media activity, such as sharing and liking their posts.
During the last year, Sephora’s active social media users have engaged with the brand through blogs, videos, and photos approximately 6.5 million times. This equals out to approximately 135,000 interactions per week. This is compared to approximately 104,000 interactions per week in the previous year.
To learn more about the products and strategies used by the world’s biggest brands, check out the Marketing Charts website. There you can find all of the charts and data relating to this article, as well as many more. And don’t forget, wherever you are in the world, you can order food delivered straight to your home.