Social media use is increasing, and that could be good news for manufacturers of branded products, as frequent social media users tend to be more loyal to name brands, according to new research from the NPD Group.
Manufacturers of name brand foods and beverages have seen market share erode over the past few years as private label goods have gained in popularity. But social media could help companies develop direct relationships with consumers and foster loyalty to brands, even when lower priced generic items are available, the market researcher said.
“Food marketers have a huge opportunity to connect directly with tech-savvy consumers like never before,” said Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage analyst. “With a click of the finger on a smartphone app or mouse, consumers are responding to marketing communications whether they’re downloading coupons and recipes or being loyal to a name brand.”
The NPD Group’s continual National Eating Trends survey has been tracking trends in Americans’ eating habits for the past three decades.
It found that coupon apps are used by about 25 million Americans every month, most frequently in households with children. And increasing numbers of consumers are using the internet and social media to find recipes and to connect with their favorite brands, NPD said.
However, online food shopping is still not mainstream, and about 7% of consumers claim to visit Amazon.com at least every two or three months to look for food and beverage products.
The NPD Group is just the latest market research organization to highlight the growing importance of social media in Americans’ food habits. In March, the Hartman Group suggested that increased communication via social media has changed the way Americans relate to food, including what they buy and cook, and how they plan their meals. It found that almost half of consumers learn about food via social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, and about 40% learn about food elsewhere online.
And market research firm IBIS World said earlier this month that social networks are “critical marketing tools” for brands targeting Millennials in particular.