But creating on-trend recipes with readily available ingredients and leveraging them across media platforms and formats to drive sales to specific stores or for specific products can be a tall order – especially at a time when many retailers and brands are scaling back marketing budgets to offset unexpected coronavirus-related costs.
It can be done, though, with the right tools, according to Nick Holzherr, the head of the Samsung Next food technology platform Whisk. He explains in this episode of FoodNavigator-USA’s Soup-To-Nuts podcast how the pandemic is reshaping consumers’ approach to cooking, their path to purchase and the product discovery process. He also shares how Whisk’s new Recipe Content Management Platform can help brands and retailers maximize the impact of recipes to drive repeat customer engagement and loyalty without maxing out their budgets.
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How COVID-19 is reshaping grocery shopping
Before the coronavirus outbreak hit, just under half of Americans’ food budgets went to food consumed at home, and according to Holzherr most people would rotate through the same nine or 10 recipes week after week. Once the pandemic was declared, though, the vast majority of food dollars shifted to retail and consumers, suddenly in need of a larger recipe repertoire, began looking for cooking inspiration and education across social media and other platforms.
“Generally, consumers are cooking now more than they ever have before. … They’re also spending more time online than they were before,” and much of the content they are engaging with across social media platforms relates to food, Holzherr said, noting 43% of content on Instagram and 24% on Pinterest is related to food.
This is inspiring them not only to look for more adventurous recipes, but to actually act on them, he said.
Pointing to data from Whisk’s AI-powered suite of food technologies, Holzherr said consumer engagement with recipes is up 25% during the pandemic with people saving recipes 5.2 times more than before the outbreak. He also noted that this has lead to an increase in basket size from an average of 15 items to 20 items before and after the pandemic began.
A new path to purchase
At the same time, consumers embraced online shopping, which dramatically disrupted the product discovery process – pushing brands and retailers to look for new ways to create brand awareness and loyalty before consumers visited a store online.
Before the pandemic, consumers shopping in stores could browse products and easily compare them to competitors nearby on shelf. But online, many of the initial search results generated by retailers are sponsored and it is more difficult to compare similar items.
As such, Holzherr said brands need to generate brand recognition before consumers visit an online retailer so they are more likely to search for a specific brand rather than a generic term.
According to Holzherr, this is where consumers’ need for recipes becomes an effective tool for brands and retailers to drive awareness and trial. It is also where Whisk comes into play.
“One of the key areas that we work with brands on is helping them create great recipe experiences, digital experiences that allow them to build strong relationships with consumers,” he said. “Recipes drive action and purchase in store and online.”
As effective as recipes are at generating interest and sales, brands and retailers are limited in leveraging them because they are spread across different platforms and in different formats that are labor intensive and expensive to comb through and enrich
“We have a recipe content management platform, which basically allows a brand to pull this content into one place very easily and importantly, enrich it. So, structure and optimize that content in one single place. And most of it is powered by machine learning so it happens automatically without the brand doing anything,” he said.
Beyond bringing the data all in one place, to make the most of recipes Holzherr says they need to be:
- Personalized and easily filtered by diet, meal occasion, key ingredients and other common search terms,
- Easy to act on so a user can quickly point to an ingredient in the recipe, click on it and buy it, and
- Fully tagged with metadata and in the correct structure for search engines to identify and pull when appropriate.
Remember to engage with consumers offline in stores
While the pandemic may have accelerated adoption of online grocery shopping, most consumers still buy in-store – even those who favor online still visit brick and mortar at least occasionally. As such, Holzherr reminds brands and retailers not to forget about offline shoppers and to take an omnichannel approach when leveraging recipes.
“If you look at the ecommerce flow, it is very easy to be attracted to the fact the user can click a button and quickly go to purchase or the fact that the space is growing so fast or that you get a better margin if someone buys through that channel. But while the growth numbers are super impressive, it’s really important not to forget the fact that the majority of customers are still buying things in store,” he said.
By taking an omnichannel approach, brands are able to account also for consumers shopping at multiple outlets, he added.
To help brands leverage this, Whisk offers and omni-channel path to purchase solution that integrates all of the online grocery stores that can be searched via voice, text, online and through other means to easily add items to a list.
Ultimately, recipes are powerful tools to drive consumer engagement, brand awareness and sales, but they are only as effective as they are discoverable, on-target or personalized and easy to act on – all of which Whisk can help brands and retailers of all sizes manage with its Recipe Content Platform which is available as a tiered subscription model.