The terms ‘dinner’ and ‘customer’ have changed dramatically in the digital era. They aren’t just faceless consumers anymore; they have names, likes and dislikes – all of which have an impact on not only what they buy, but how they choose brands and stores to buy from. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the food industry, a sector that is dependent on customer perceptions as much as it relies on taste.
Businesses that deal
in food are responding to this demand by investing in food technology that can help them bridge
the gap between those perceptions and their offerings. The technology that is being
implemented and refined is designed primarily to improve the stages of food
production, distribution and delivery, from the grassroots level right to the customer’s
One of the main aspects it touches upon is digital marketing in the food industry and particularly, how it can be used to promote offerings in a saturated market. In the wake of the Covid-19 and how it is forcing people to self-isolate for weeks, food-based businesses have a unique chance to keep their brands going in these uncertain times. Some of the elements that it relies on include the following:
Connectivity Is the Name Of The Game
How a food-based
business connects with consumers on a personal level determines their online
success. In other words, how they market themselves online today will have a
positive or negative impact on their bottom line in the future. Some of the
ways they can do this include the following:
Using the Right
According to a
quantitative study by Barkley, products that claim they can be traced to
their source and are sustainable and perform better than those that don’t declare
this claim. This claim stands head and shoulders above other labels that most
grocery store products display, such as ‘easy preparation’ or ‘portion
Since public sentiment
regarding food choice and consumption has shifted, as climate change becomes a
very real threat, the keywords that are associated with it have changed
accordingly. For example, there is an increased focus on the term
‘environmentally-friendly’ not only for food and beverages, but also their
packaging. That is why more and more food manufacturers are making commitments
to implement sustainable practices and policies that keep the health of the end
user in mind.
This has had a marked
effect on brand strategy for food production in marketing. Rather than just
being a niche concept, environmentally-sustainable practices are becoming
mainstream with millennials and generation Z being their biggest advocates.
This kind of eco-attitude has a significant impact on their shopping
expectations, dining preferences and habits.
So, how can food manufacturers, distributors and sellers profit from this online? Simple. Studies show that these generations are willing to pay more for products that have transparent labelling not only on the shelves, but also in their digital marketing efforts. This includes lists of ingredients, their calorie count and how they are processed.
It all comes down to the mindset of the modern consumer (their attitudes, decisions and behaviour) and how it drives the food movement. However, this does not mean that businesses are at the mercy of a consumer’s whim. They can harness those trends and changing interests by using bespoke digital marketing strategies.
Using Social Media to
Drive Online Perceptions and Conversations
Digital marketing for specific
food products has become a challenge and for a simple reason.
In Great Britain the number of vegans quadrupled between 2014 and 2019. Naturally, there has been a surge in vegan-related search terms, such as ‘gluten free’, ‘meat free’, ‘farm raise’ and ‘dairy free’, to name a few. Besides these, diet restrictions have now turned into diet preferences with terms such as ‘non GMO’ and ‘ethically sourced’ reining supreme, particularly on social media.
By advertising food
with these labels on social media platforms, such as Instagram and Twitter,
food- based businesses can see a significant boost in sales and engagement.
That, along with presentation and aesthetics, can do more to promote a company
than a televised ad can.
This change in the
food industry has not only had an impact on restaurants but also in factories
where poor packaging is now being replaced with sustainable counterparts. By
distributing images of their offerings from packaging to plate on social media,
food-based enterprises can not only tap into unique and promotional markets,
they can also make inroads into their own longevity as brands.
Since the whole point
of social media is to engage with consumers on a personal level, managing it
requires an equally personal touch. Consumer perceptions can change on a dime
and a lack of response to even the simplest queries can ruin a company’s
reputation overnight. That’s because those comments and answers are also read
by other commenters and if one gets enough attention and goes viral, it can
place the brand’s credibility under scrutiny.
Today, this is seen as
a marketing opportunity rather than a death knell for a brand. By responding to
negative comments proactively, companies are not only delivering on their brand
promise, but they are also attracting new markets. Similarly, companies that
are leading the conversation on sustainable food manufacturing processes and
packaging solutions are getting ahead of consumers rather than allowing them to
get there first.
Optimizing Websites by Keeping Potential Consumers and Buyers in Mind
As consumers may change their preferences on the whims of influencers and trends, SEO techniques have to change accordingly. Solutions that could place a website on the first page of search results are not only obsolete today, they can even hurt its ranking permanently.
This holds true for
the food industry, especially how a business presents itself online. To
increase their organic rankings, websites have to be optimized not only to be
more visually appealing, but also to ensure their content is readable and
The formula is simple.
The more traffic a website gets, the lower its bounce rate, which results in a
higher ranking. In the food business, perception is a reality for critics and
customers alike. The best way to target both and keep them engaged is with
content that informs and inspires at the same time. Some of the elements that
go into creating impactful content for web include the following:
that Appeals to Your Target Audience
Large chunks of
content do nothing but make readers phase out. While your website should have
everything online users need to make a transaction, book a table or buy a
certain product, less is more when it comes to engagement. Each paragraph
should be limited to no more than 3 to 4 sentences and each should support the
sentences should not be long enough that they are difficult to read on a
smaller screen, such as that of a smart device. While you can use longer
sentences, do so sparingly and mix them with shorter ones to clarify the
message. Varied readability can prevent your content from fragmenting and
ensure your main idea delivers the desired impact on your target audience and
make them return.
readable, the content should also be scannable. This is where bulleted lists
make a difference. Bullet points are for SEO like ketchup is for French fries.
They make people want more because those lists are:
In other words, they
are easy on the eyes and don’t require a lot of brainpower to process. This is
important because people read differently on the web compared to physical
mediums, such as newspapers. That’s because unlike a paper, they know they
won’t have to go anywhere to see what another restaurant has to offer if they
don’t like the menu or product descriptions on the one they are on.
They aren’t looking
for an immersive reading experience. They are looking for content that can help
them make split-second decisions. In fact, according to a study by the Nielsen Norman Group, only 16% of site
visitors read content word by word and 79% only scan it. In fact, even if they
stay long enough to scan the website, they don’t stay for long.
Therefore, to ensure your
target readers remain on the web page for long, make sure the content on your
food blog, product page and landing page has at least one bulleted list.
Besides being easy to read, the content also encourages site visitors to check
out pages till the end. Plus, make sure there is enough white space between the
content so it doesn’t overwhelm readers. This can be anything from external
links to supporting content to supporting media, such as images and graphs.
Consumer Experience via Videos
The food industry is
based on the senses and while taste is important, how it looks on the plate or
it is packed has a significant impact on consumers as well. No medium has tapped
into this potential as successfully as video has and for good reason. As brands
evolve, telling their story to the people is the best way to maintain
credibility and relevancy in an ever changing market.
Sure high-res images
can go viral as well, but they cannot do what video can – create a real and
authentic connection with viewers and make them react and comment in real time.
This is important today because the web is saturated with stagnant content from
food brands, each of which thinks its products are the best ones since sliced
The key to standing
out is emotional engagement and trust that videos can provide and this is
supported by facts. Whether they are looking for a recipe for
banana bread, a roast turkey or a simple spaghetti dinner for the kids, they
turn to YouTube for recipes and tips on cooking strategies.
That’s because video
tutorials and reviews have the potential to gain a viewer’s trust faster and
for longer than any other medium. Food-based businesses are jumping on that
bandwagon by creating shareable video content. The longer a consumer spends
time viewing that content, the longer they will remain on your website, which
translates to a higher SERP ranking.
As the most versatile
type of content, the sky is the limit to how video can be used to promote a
business. Have a new item on the menu? Share a video of it on your restaurant’s
Facebook page and share the stills on Instagram. Is your business losing its
credibility? Feature a customer’s story on how your farm fresh produce helped
them lose weight and feel better about themselves. Have new specialty drinks on
the menu? Make a video of how they are prepared in-house and highlight the
ingredients to make viewers salivate with anticipation.
The point is there is
no bad situation for sharing video content. Plus, since your target market will
share it with the assumption that it has already been shared, it has the potential
to go viral, provided it is well made and resonates with consumers on a
personal level. In other words, it has to make them literally hungry and
thirsty for more to make a difference as part of an online marketing strategy.
their offerings in videos, the medium also allows food manufacturers,
distributors and sellers to give viewers an inside look at their business. A
documentary on how a certain product is produced in a factory, for instance,
can make viewers more mindful of what they buy and eat and promote a business
at the same time. Similarly, a video on how customers can use a food app to
order food online can also increase traffic and thus conversion rates.
The bottom line is that food-based businesses that fail to take advantage of online tools, such as social media, SEO and video, have more to lose than just their customers. A lack of online presence is seen as a lack of credibility and brands that remain with their head in the dirt, so to speak, can smother any chance of success or leverage in an increasingly competitive industry. With food bloggers, critics and foodstagrammers driving tastes, adopting foodtech in marketing strategies for food products and promoting sustainable agritech solutions is the key to success in today’s consumer environment.