Avocado toast, golden milk, soft serve, matcha, ube.
It’s hard to consider another industry that has been more impacted by social media and mobile technology than food. Recipe Pins, Tasty (and Tasty-inspired) Facebook Videos, #InstaFood all provide an endless scroll of food inspo. Ingredients and flavors, such as Tumeric, that may have remained relatively obscure are currently de rigueur. Amazon, grocery delivery services, and meal prep boxes are changing the way we not only shop for food, but how we experience food and share that experience as well.
Our feeds, quite literally, feed us.
As legacy food and beverage brands continue to see their traditional distribution channels disappear (Sam’s Club and Kmart are already among the retailers announcing store closures in 2018) and consumers’ grocery shopping behavior continues to shift online, increased focus on the consumer experience – from robust e-commerce practices to direct-to-consumer strategies – is not just a nice-to-have, but necessary for survival.
Particularly for food brands, where the competition for consumer attention is fierce, with increasing pressure from new, digitally native brands. The barrier to entry has never been lower and consumer perception is determined more by feed appeal than shelf appeal.
Perception is reality, and for food marketers who have traditionally relied on wholesalers to connect with consumers, influencers present an opportunity to bridge the gap to authentic consumer relationships (not to mention the insights and data that come with it).
The keys to thumb-stopping influencer-generated content today remains grounded in the same foundation of any impactful campaign – a compelling creative brief. As they say, every successful marketing campaign has a relevant and insightful creative brief behind it, and influencer marketing is no different. What you should consider including to inform your influencers’ food stories?
Per IRI Worldwides’s 2017 Snacking Survey, here are three product features to highlight in your influencer marketing campaign and creative briefs to drive maximum feed appeal and consumer demand.
“Transparency is critical with consumers equally focused on what is not in their food as what is in it, and where it came from.”
From declining trust in corporations to the increasing incidence of food allergies – transparency of ingredients is of major importance to consumers when it comes to influencing purchase decisions. In fact, 62% of Millennials state that product labeling & packaging influence their snack decision. It is the function of entire lifestyle movements, such as Paleo, and the new reflection of wealth (“I only eat organic / local / fair trade”). Have you ever heard of “farm-to-bag”? It exists, and it sells.
Marketers can reflect these consumer values in influencer creative briefs by calling attention to your ingredients’ simplicity (whole foods!), claims & certifications (i.e. Organic, Vegan, Hormone-Free), and their origin story (i.e. local, farm-to, ethically sourced).
2. Nutritional Benefits
But ingredients will only take you so far. According to IRI, 60% of consumers want health benefits beyond nutrition, and 59% of consumers want snacks that contain vitamins & minerals. Consumers not only expect more from their brand experience – they expect to be able to live their best lives as a result of the nutritional benefits your products provide. Showcasing experiential benefits have long been a part of food and beverage marketers’ playbooks – Gatorade has leverage superstar athletes to showcase its ability to power superior performance; Dove chocolate has been positioned as the sweet retreat of choice for many busy moms. Consumers overwhelmingly choose foods based on tastes they’ll enjoy. Chocolate remains a driving factor of purchase behavior – the majority of all food & beverage sales – 53% – include chocolate.
What is new is consumers’ focus on health. Beyond performance, consumers’ food decisions are largely a reflection of lifestyle choices that they seek inspiration and affirmation to support. Mainstream lifestyle categories and superfood trends (fitness, Whole30) are among the topics food brands should seek to align with where relevant when executing an influencer marketing campaign or program, showcasing the lives influencers are able to lead as a result. Also, where the majority of sales are still happening in-store, it also opens the opportunity to partner with strategic retailers to align on a key lifestyle initiative to widen consumer appeal.
3. Packaging & Portability
Ingredients and nutritional benefits aside – given the impact of lifestyle on consumers’ preferences, food products also need to be able to keep up with consumers on-demand, on-the-go lifestyles. Consumers want to feed their hunger and fuel their performance in this moment, and quickly. Sales of ‘thins’, ‘bars’, and ‘bites’ sold over $100M in the last year alone. The opportunity lies for food brands to introduce new forms of high-demand products – as barkThins did when it transformed the category and made chocolate not just an indulgence – but an everyday snack.
This also provides foods with pre-portioned, re-sealable packaging an advantage – mobile phone in hand, there are a near infinite number of opportunities to showcase how your products fit into and fuel influencers’ busy schedules.
Ready to make the most of these opportunities and more? Get started planning your next and best influencer marketing program with the templates and how-to’s included in our 2018 Influencer Marketing Strategy & Content Playbook for Food Marketers.