If you’re a fan of Kitchen Nightmares, the show where Gordon Ramsay tries to re-launch unsuccessful restaurants using his years of experience and streaks of curse words, then you’re likely familiar with the brouhaha surrounding Friday night’s episode. For those who aren’t: Ramsay gave up on helping the Bouzaglos, owners of Amy’s Baking Company in Scottsdale, Ariz., when it seemed they were uninterested in changing the way they ran their business.
Instead of the credits signaling the end of the story, it spilled out onto various social media sites, including Reddit, Facebook and Yelp, where viewers and past customers alike began reviewing the restaurant negatively, uncovering faked photos of the restaurant’s food on Facebook, and generally undoing the Bouzaglos’ business — which prompted the owners to take the kind of drastic step one should never take with social media: FREAKING OUT IN CAPS LOCK ON FACEBOOK.
We won’t repeat what’s been said here, not only because it’s repetitive, but also because it’s offensive. Sheez. Let this be a reminder to all of us: Whether you’re with company face-to-face or in front of a keyboard, mind those Ps and Qs!
“This example violates a cardinal rule of social media for businesses: Do not respond defensively to criticism, which could initiate a virtual battle with your audience,” explains Katie Whitmore, our Account Supervisor for Public Relations and Social Media. Katie, who oversees content development and community management on behalf of several CBD clients, works diligently to help them maintain a stellar rep through social media as well as traditional media channels. So she knows a thing or two about how, when feeling like they’re under attack, many people try to fan the flames by engaging in arguments on Facebook or Twitter.
“Receiving online criticism gives businesses an opportunity to identify a problem, be proactive by offering a solution and to demonstrate superior customer service to change negative opinions. If businesses instead respond negatively, a somewhat small issue can rapidly grow out of control and the integrity of the business will suffer.”
With each inflammatory response the Bouzaglos clan posts, the comments continue to climb — but not their business. And that is some serious food for thought.
When you’re hungry, is your first instinct to cook a meal or grab a snack from the cabinet? According to a recent article in Ad Age, snacking is the new eating. This trend is shaping the way brands target their customers when it comes to the snack aisle. One brand in particular recently strayed from its traditional role by introducing a line of unexpected flavors. Triscuit’s new Brown Rice lineup is taking supermarkets by storm and piquing the interests of snackers in the U.S.
Triscuit rolled out a new line of the classic crunchy treat by introducing flavors with “real food” ingredients such as brown rice with sweet potato or red beans. When I think of a snack, red beans and sweet onions don’t come to mind, but the trend towards better-for-you foods seems to have plenty of interested consumers. While the new line of Triscuits is not necessarily “better for you” when it comes to calorie count, the name and look alone give it a healthy vibe.
In the Ad Age article, Jimmy Wu, senior brand manager for Triscuit, said, “Consumers are looking for a lot of the same things they used to find in meals in snacks, and that’s really foods with real food ingredients and real food value in them.” According to a recent Rabobank Group report, snacks account for one third of the calories consumed daily by adults.
From Greek yogurt and hummus to pita chips and Triscuits, there is no doubt that the category of healthier snacks is growing. As people become more observant and cautious of the ingredients they put into their bodies, and as dietary and allergy restrictions play a larger role in the food habits of many people, the demand for better-for-you foods will grow. Whether for health reasons or lack of time, (or a combination of the two) the snack culture is changing.
Would you pull a Brown Rice and Wheat Triscuit off the shelves to try? Maybe their commercial will convince you.
How do millennials and baby boomers shop? Can they tell the difference between leading, non-leading and lesser-known brands? What do they think of technology at the grocery store?
We asked our CBD team for their take on these questions and more in our three part video series, “CBD Talks Food”—and now it’s your turn.
Starting today until January 15, 2013 you can enter CBD’s “Say Cheese!” photo contest for your chance to win a party’s worth of Lou Malnati’s pizzas. Just find a creative way to share your favorite packaged food or beverage brand, and let us know what makes it so irresistible.
Need some inspiration? Check out parts one through three of “CBD Talks Food” below.
Consumers identify unethical food sourcing as practices that have crossed the bounds of food safety, health, environmental and social responsibility. For example, consumers perceive gestation crates unethical from an animal welfare point of view. In the mind of the consumer, it is difficult to separate unhealthy animal treatment with the final product they consume. Likewise, unethical practices that don’t affect food production, such as Nestle’s baby formula promotional tactics or Dole Pineapple’s labor law violations, have also had a profound impact on consumers’ buying decisions. Like any other product, consumers vote with their wallets to “punish” companies for perceived unethical behavior. No matter how superior in quality, if your coffee grain is linked to child-labor, consumers will hardly want to associate themselves with your product.
When it comes to making food choices based on ethical sourcing, consumers seem to be influenced by both brand reputation as well as individual product reputation. Chipotle’s efforts to highlight its ethically raised meat have paid off in phenomenal growth during very difficult economic times. When it comes to individual product selection, third-party certifications are playing a huge role in influencing consumer perceptions. The number of U.S. products launched with Fair Trade Certification doubled from 2008 to 2011. For the same time period, Innova Market Insight, a marketing research firm, reported that sales of ethically positioned foods grew from 3.7 percent to 6 percent. Clearly, third-party food certification is having an impact on buying behavior.
Stonyfield Farms is a great example of how a company can leverage both brand reputation and third-party endorsements to promote “ethical” products. The company promotes its ethical farming practices (organic, sustainable, animal welfare and chemical-free) as well as environmentally-responsible operations (efficient transportation, renewable energy, and zero waste). The business uses third-party certifications like the USDA Organic Seal to further its credibility. The company has maintained an overall annual revenue growth rate of over 26 percent (5 times the industry average) and built annual revenues of $300 million. They attribute this financial success directly to core values that dictate how well food is made, animals and employees are treated as well the environment.
As much as food manufacturers and businesses would like to distill a proper definition for ethical sourcing, it seems it won’t be possible for the time being. A survey conducted by Innova Market Insights in 2011 shows that people consider several factors beyond organic when considering “ethical” food purchases. Most foods recognized as “ethical” are using third party certifications from Fair Trade USA, The Marine Stewardship Council and the Rainforest Alliance. All these certifications touch different realms of sustainability, human and environmental responsibility –thus making it difficult to narrow down a static definition for ethical sourcing.
One of the best ways for brands to engage consumers on ethical sourcing is to proactively improve on issues that are important to consumers. Third party certification schemes definitely lend to brand integrity but, to best navigate consumer quality expectations, brands must listen into consumer conversations in real-time. In the case of ethical sourcing –which is a fluid, evolving concept– listening to what is being discussed on online is essential to understanding what is today’s definition of ethical sourcing and matching a company’s ethical sourcing efforts to consumer expectations.
When your world is a blur of expo floors, faces and business cards, how can you best stand out given the whirlwind of activities that surround you? Here are some trade show tips from CBD to help keep your eye on the ball:
Use Exhibit Design Wisely
According to CBD’s Executive Creative Director, Mary Olivieri, every inch of your exhibit booth is valuable real estate for business messaging. This year, take a step back and evaluate whether your current exhibit is conveying the information you want to resonate. Define your audience early during the design process, and aim to evoke an emotional response. Narrow down the message you would like to communicate, but don’t forget to clearly emphasize your product or service. Color schemes and design should be consistent with your company’s color palette and other marketing collateral—both digital and in print.
While booth activities, promotions and demonstrations are necessary to create the buzz, don’t forget that you need an energetic and well-prepared booth staff to make it a memorable visit. In our experience, it’s always a good investment to conserve your staff’s energy by using agency support. Social media presence, trade media outreach and booth designs are all areas where you can and should consider external expertise. Allow your staff to focus their energies on what they know best—providing a knowledgeable and unforgettable connection with prospects.
The Magic is in the Follow-up
Rather than prioritizing the volume of leads gathered at shows, your goal should be to have year-round follow-up with your new contacts. One affordable and engaging way to stay on a lead’s radar is through a monthly blog or periodic e-newsletter, provided that it is both visual and insightful. If planned strategically, it should take a few hours every month to plan, write, publish and distribute a thoughtful issue electronically. Another neat way to keep up a year-long interaction with your trade show leads is to use free social media tools like Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest. Keep the conversation light and relevant. Stick to content that best showcases your company’s strengths and services.
What do Starbucks, Coke, Whole Foods and Oreo Cookies have in common? In addition to being iconic American brands, they are each leading the industry in embracing social media in their own highly relevant and completely brand-right ways.
Let’s look at a couple of these beginning with Starbucks, a true social media giant. I found an article dated 2010 highlighting Starbucks’ 30,270 followers on Twitter. Two years later, that following has grown to 2,502,063. Plus an astonishing 30,000,000+ fans/likes on Facebook. Watch their posts on Twitter and be amazed by the volume of one-to-one problem-solving communications in 140 characters – all helping build brand loyalty by being super attentive. Listening, interacting, asking for ideas. Respecting their customers while keeping the hard sell to a bare minimum. The result? A record quarterly profit in Q4 of 2011.
Whole Foods views social media as a chance to educate while working on a hyper local level to bring customers into the store. So in addition to the corporate site (with nearly 3 million Twitter followers), individual locations (often groups of 4 or 5 Whole Foods within a city) have their own social media sites (typically Twitter) to handle local comments and talk about what’s on sale or new at the store. In fact, Whole Foods community managers estimate that only about 10% of their posts are content based, 5% are promotional and a full 85% are responses to customer comments.
Oreo – with 26,000,000 fans on Facebook – is a brand that turned 100 a couple months ago and is having a lot of pure fun and games via social media channels. To commemorate this milestone, they’ve introduced a birthday cake flavor (limited time) and developed a highly integrated birthday celebration campaign with a dedicated website and heavy social media engagement. A component is the “Oreo moments” movement, where people upload video or share tweets about their favorite interactions with Oreos. They’re looking for a “million moments” and are closing in with nearly 800,000 at last count.
Does a good social media program drive sales? Here’s what Coca Cola’s (35 million Facebook fans and 40,000 Twitter followers) senior vice president of integrated marketing has to say. In short, “Fans are twice as likely to consume and 10 times more likely to purchase than non-fans.”
Thus supporting recent studies which have shown that engagement via social media can resurrect food and beverage brands, helping them win the battle vs. private label. Especially amongst younger shoppers, the direct relationship via social media provokes an emotional brand connection that translates into loyalty and purchase.
How is your social media presence evolving?
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