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Michael Sansolo is research director of the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council of North America.

Despite the widespread capabilities of the social web, supermarket shoppers so far seem very limited in how they use any of the platforms for any activities around purchasing or meal preparation. And the reason for that limited behavior may come from supermarket companies themselves.Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council research director Michael Sansolo

Responding to surveys in Part 8 of “Untangling the Social Web,” the new study from the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council of North America, shoppers clearly outlined their limits. In contrast to their activity elsewhere on the web, when it comes to supermarket shopping more than 80% engage in “taking” behavior — such as looking for coupons and specials. Only 20% create content, such as recipes or sharing meal ideas.

The cause of that limited activity is likely supermarket companies themselves, who so far have largely used Facebook and Twitter primarily to simply feature specials and coupons — promotions that have merely migrated from other forms of media.


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As Part 8 makes clear through its discussions with shoppers and industry insiders, greater use of social web capabilities will require greater creativity and activity by companies. Only then will shoppers recognize the benefits of engaging to a greater level and only then will companies likely find great results.

Shoppers specifically say that most of their interaction with food retailers is now focused on specials, coupons and specific items for recipes in response to what stores offer. Some of the areas that are currently lagging — that also present the potential for improved interaction — are lessons in how to cook or prepare specific foods, inspiration and ideas for special events, dietary and food trends and even positive experiences inside the stores themselves.

In order to match up with these desires, supermarkets operators may need to revaluate and broaden the content they currently offer and consider making use of more channels, including Snapchat, Instagram and Pinterest. Improving the types of information offered could lead to shoppers in turn becoming more active in their postings on their store experiences.

Retailers involved in the design of the study will be participating in a special workshop June 12 at the FMI Connect Convention in Chicago. The study is available for free at www.ccrrc.org.

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Sean McBride

Sean McBride, founder of DSM Strategic Communications, LLC, is former EVP of communications and member services at the Grocery Manufacturers Association.
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