Bellevue, Wash. – Social media is changing the way we communicate, network, learn, share and obtain information, and now – a new study has found – it’s changing how we eat.
The study is called Clicks & Cravings: The Impact of Social Technology on Food Culture, and was developed by consumer research firm The Hartman Group, and Publicis Consultants USA, a food and nutrition marketing agency.
The study found that social media is changing food culture by influencing how consumers think about, talk about and experience food.
In fact, consumers are looking to bloggers and the opinions of online others to expand their culinary horizons and make purchase decisions.
The study found that:
• 82 per cent of consumers visit social network sites monthly
• 75 per cent use Facebook monthly
• 49 per cent say they learn about food via social networking
• 40 per cent of online adults say they learn about food via websites, apps or blogs
• nine per cent of consumers say they downloaded a mobile food app in the past year
• 47 per cent of say they’ve searched for online/digital coupons/specials online.
Moms and Millenials
The study also found that among Millenials, online media resources have overtaken print and food TV shows as their most valued sources of inspiration when it comes to food.
The study also found that moms and primary cooks and shoppers want easy to use apps that can make shopping, meal planning and saving money easier for them.
People are inherently social eaters, making social media and food a perfect pair, says the study. Twenty-nine per cent of online consumers have used a social networking site while eating or drinking at home in the last month and 19 per cent have done so away from home. Thirty-two per cent of consumers have either texted or used a social networking site or app in the last month while eating or drinking. This percentage jumps up to 47 per cent among Millennials.
Consumers virtually break bread by sharing their food experiences, uploading photos and posting stories. During these occasions, 24 per cent say they respond to conversations, 21 per cent seek out recipes and 21 per cent say they seek out discounts, coupons and deals.
The study authors say people look to stylish people, not stylish brands for food and lifestyle advice. Today’s consumers want to hear from people who eat and cook food more than they want to hear from the entities who sell.
They follow people on Twitter, become friends on Facebook and read blogs of people with authentic voices, sincere posts, and meaningful content.
People heed the advice of respected others in their social networks. Doers and Dreamers widely spread information about food, trends and good deals through public communities. Spectators then circulate this information within their intimate communities.
Opportunities for industry
Consumers are now discovering, learning, sharing and talking about food online. As such, they are willing to engage with food brands and companies in this space, but only if the interaction promises to enrich their lives in some tangible way.
While an exceptional product and a great deal will initially attract consumers to you, this is only the starting point of a truly meaningful social media relationship. To leverage the opportunities offered by this evolving platform, businesses must also craft a distinct online personality, enlist the support of other social media actors, be generous and humorous, reflect their customers’ values and reveal their true personalities. With a few small changes in approach, social media is a tool companies can use to get outside their boxes and create more personable relationships with consumers.