Michael Sansolo serves as research director for the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council of North America (CCRRC), as well as a consultant to innovative food retailers and manufacturers. He also is a contributing editor to morningnewsbeat.com.

Marketing

Q

Does social media really matter to those of us who work in the supermarket industry?

A

Social media matters because your shoppers are already using it to talk about your store, their experiences and the products you sell. You wouldn’t ignore a chance to listen and speak to valued customers in the communities you serve, and that’s exactly the opportunity this forum provides. It may surprise retailers to learn that the biggest group of social networking users is adults over age 35, according to “Untangling the Social Web: Insights for Users, Brands and Retailers” a new study by the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council of North America (CCRRC).The report (available for free at www.ccrrc.org) also reveals that food -- and activities related to it, such as shopping, cooking and eating -- is one of the most popular topics of discussion. The explosive growth of this medium and the number of people who are engaged is staggering. Facebook will add its one billionth user sometime this summer. It takes time to become involved, but social media doesn’t necessarily require a cash outlay like advertising, or the need to build infrastructure, such as a website. Whether you operate a national chain or an independent store, your customers are there and your competitors are there. You should be there too.

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