he food and beverage industry, like many others, has been undergoing a seismic shift in recent years, with the landscape of marketing strategies evolving at an unprecedented pace. In recent years, it has become increasingly clear that the traditional forms of marketing, like TV spots, are fading into the background — making way for the burgeoning realm of digital marketing. This transformation has been propelled by the rise of social media and its ever-evolving algorithms, the rapid growth of video content, and the influx of nimble upstart brands in the food and beverage arena.
These newcomers have deftly harnessed the power of social media and digital marketing, scaling their operations to a level that catches the eye of brick-and-mortar retailers. Furthermore, the advent of omni-channel grocery shopping has brought an additional layer of complexity to the mix. Retailers are now urging suppliers to devote resources to their product detail pages on retail websites and there are a blend of marketplaces and logistics partners such as Instacart.com, Amazon Fresh, and Thrive Market that are available today for people to purchase food & beverage products.
In this dynamic environment, brands that fail to adjust to the changing tides risk being left behind. To navigate this complex landscape, businesses must embrace a range of innovative marketing strategies, from in-person demos and event sponsorships, to the effective use of influencer marketing and organic social media presence.
This guide will provide a comprehensive roadmap to the most effective food and beverage marketing strategies for 2023, offering insights into how brands can leverage these tactics to thrive in this evolving landscape. Whether you're a seasoned industry veteran or a newcomer looking to make your mark, this guide is designed to equip you with the knowledge and tools needed to adapt, innovate, and succeed. Stay tuned to explore how you can future-proof your food and beverage marketing strategy.
As we approach mid-2023, in-person demos and event sponsorships remain vital tools for driving trials and boosting sales velocity, particularly in the initial 12 weeks of a product launch. Beyond the traditional retail marketing tactics such as price promotions, end caps, aisle displays, and grocery circulars, there are numerous opportunities to harness in-person activities to enhance brand awareness.
For established and middle-market food & beverage brands, it's time to borrow a leaf from the emerging startups' marketing playbook. While the scalability of in-person activities might seem less compared to digital strategies, especially for a national launch in numerous retail stores, there are effective and scalable methods to consider.
Suppose your product, a snack for instance, targets active families with children. Instead of sponsoring a single local soccer team with free samples, consider sponsoring an entire youth soccer league that aligns with your target demographics. Also, consider initiating an affiliate program targeting PTA committees in your focus areas. These strategies, while excellent for brand awareness, should not be overly relied upon for sales velocity as they are more geared towards driving trials rather than conversions.
In the early stages of a retail product launch, sparking interest and initiating trials is critical to your success. While the numbers might be small at first, any positive signal to you and the retailer that shoppers are trying and enjoying your product is valuable. Once early signs of product resonance are visible, focus can shift to scaling through other marketing channels.
Additionally, partnering with platforms like Aisle and SocialNature, which connect brands with shoppers eager to try new products, can further drive trials and early-stage sales velocity. It's worth noting that the right balance between these strategies and more scalable digital tactics is key to a successful marketing strategy in 2023.
The decline in the effectiveness of traditional marketing channels such as radio and out-of-home (OOH) advertising like billboards and posters, has prompted a shift in marketing budgets. Radio listenership has been in steady decline for the last 5 years, especially among millennials and Gen Zs.
While these channels still capture a substantial, albeit older, audience, the decision to reduce spend is two-fold. Firstly, there is an undeniable decline in these channels' effectiveness. Secondly, there's a significant opportunity cost associated with not investing in growing and trending channels like social media.
Social media platforms provide creative avenues for visually demonstrating product benefits in ways traditional channels cannot. From showcasing food preparation demos to presenting your product in aspirational contexts like a child's soccer game snack or a charcuterie board for date night - these platforms offer a more interactive and engaging experience.
Moreover, tracking and attribution pose challenges for traditional channels, whereas digital marketing offers more precise metrics. Additionally, newer, health-conscious products that deviate from mainstream food items typically resonate better with modern advertising forms. Hence, targeting older audiences via radio or OOH advertising may prove less effective for these new products.
The evolution of media consumption has prompted a necessary shift in marketing strategies for food & beverage brands. Food marketing in the traditional TV landscape, once dominated by large players like PepsiCo, Coca Cola and Kellogg, is experiencing a decline. With 90.3% of broadcast and cable networks reporting a decrease in audience from 2016 to 2021, the reduction in TV viewership is apparent. However, this doesn't equate to reduced content consumption; it simply signifies a shift towards OTT services and platforms like YouTube.
Currently, 78% of U.S. households subscribe to at least one or more streaming services, and the average consumer spends 19 hours per week watching online video content. These platforms offer opportunities to run high-budget ads similar to traditional TV commercials, but with the added flexibility of cost-effective user-generated content and more casual advertising styles.
Transitioning to these digital platforms not only ensures better reach but also enhances conversion possibilities, as they direct consumers to retailer websites or store locators. The added advantage of performance tracking and lower entry costs compared to traditional TV media buying makes OTT and YouTube viable options for smaller and middle-market players.
While traditional radio, TV, and OOH marketing may no longer be the focus, paid social media advertising remains an integral part of the marketing mix for forward-thinking food & beverage brands. However, the landscape of paid advertising has shifted significantly since the iOS 14.5 update in April 2021, which required users to opt-in for tracking across apps and websites. This led to a substantial decrease in users being tracked, resulting in a 38% drop in reported Facebook Return on Ad Spend (ROAS). Moreover, inflation, increased advertising demand, and other factors led to higher Cost per Mille (CPM), making paid ads less sustainable for food brands.
With these challenges in Facebook advertising, brands should turn their focus towards underutilized platforms like TikTok, which hasn't experienced the same hike in CPM. With low competition leading to cheaper ads ($6.06 CPM compared to Facebook's $12.57), and 5x-16x higher click-through rates (CTRs) than Facebook, TikTok ads present a valuable opportunity. This higher CTR is likely due to TikTok's video-centric nature, which can increase CTRs by 4x or more.
Even if your target audience doesn't have a significant presence on TikTok, it's worth noting that all platforms, including those with older demographics, prioritize short-form video content. Therefore, the same strategy can be effectively applied across different platforms.
However, the barrier to entry is the challenge of creating authentic, relatable, and cost-effective video content that aligns with TikTok's style. Current alternatives include manual outreach to content creators, in-house content creation, and hiring influencer/marketing agencies – all of which can be expensive and time-consuming.
This is where solutions like Crafted come in handy. As a SaaS platform, Crafted enables food & beverage brands to produce effective short-form videos that are twice as effective (in terms of CTRs) as content produced in-house or by marketing agencies. Moreover, Crafted's Managed Services can help with A/B testing of ad creatives and meticulous tracking of ad performance, assisting brands to fine-tune their messaging, content, and swiftly adapt to changes.
In a world where people spend an average of 2.5 hours daily on social media, food and beverage brands must leverage these platforms effectively. A brand's social media profile, complete with well-branded content and links to their website or Product Detail Page (PDP) on grocery store websites, forms the baseline for a powerful online presence. This not only bolsters the conversion rate on paid social media but also supports other marketing efforts. When consumers discover a brand through paid channels, their natural inclination is to visit the brand's website and social media profiles.
Moreover, social media provides an invaluable platform for advertising new products. Unlike the limited space available on packaging, social media offers unlimited scope to creatively highlight the unique benefits and features of food products. User-Generated Content (UGC) has emerged as a cost-effective advertising tool. Modern brands like DreamPops have successfully employed this strategy, starting with daily posts by founders and gradually transitioning to content creators, leading to significant sales and follower growth on platforms like TikTok.
As your account grows, you gain a follower base you can continually engage with. You have more control over captions and links, making it easier to guide users to your site, and it's cheaper than paying influencers for reach or for ads. Micro-influencers, who create excellent content but don't have massive followings, can be contracted relatively cheaply for content creation, offering a cost-effective alternative to expensive influencer campaigns or paid social ads.
This strategy can also be used to recreate the appeal of traditional TV marketing, where recurring personalities or catchphrases capture audience attention. Today's popular food media companies like Cook's Illustrated (America’s Test Kitchen) and Bon Appetit have successfully implemented this strategy on YouTube, featuring recurring chefs who double as entertaining personalities, building viewer attachment and consistent channel viewership. This model can be similarly employed on TikTok, presenting an innovative way to regularly expose your audience to your products.
An effective organic social media strategy doesn't just augment your brand's online presence but also offers a cost-efficient avenue for innovative product advertising, enabling brands to harness the power of platforms where their consumers spend a significant part of their day.
While traditionally associated with brand marketing, influencer marketing can serve as a potent tool for performance marketing, thanks to a more strategic approach, the rising prevalence of micro-influencers, and the power of omni-channel marketing.
To effectively leverage influencer marketing for performance, the first step is to establish a target Cost Per Mille (CPM), or cost per thousand views. Keep in mind that you will also need to compensate them for the time and effort that it takes to produce the video on top of compensating them for reach. Once you've determined your target CPM and identified potential influencers for your campaign, you can then estimate the potential reach of their sponsored posts.
To do this, analyze the average viewership across their last ten posts and their engagement rate. Tools like the Upfluence Chrome Widget can offer valuable insights into the influencer's engagement levels. This assessment will help you anticipate the expected viewership and thus determine a fair payment for the influencer. Taking such an informed approach helps to eliminate much of the uncertainty typically associated with influencer marketing.
Influencer marketing can prove to be a highly effective advertising channel, often delivering click-through rates (CTRs) that are four times higher than those of paid ads. This is primarily due to the trust and loyalty that influencers cultivate among their followers, which can significantly enhance the persuasiveness of their sponsored content.
However, if you're short on time or lack the resources to source influencers, negotiate pricing, and manage campaigns, consider leveraging services like Crafted. We offer a robust micro-influencer marketing strategy, designed to optimize performance. Our content consistently outperforms that produced by in-house teams and traditional marketing agencies, thanks to our deep understanding of the influencer landscape and our ability to curate content that truly resonates with the target audience.
With a calculated approach and strategic use of resources, influencer marketing can shift from being just a brand marketing tool to a powerful driver of performance marketing. By setting clear goals, selecting the right influencers, and managing campaigns effectively, you can unlock the full potential of influencer marketing to drive higher engagement and conversions.
Leveraging recipe content is a multifaceted strategy that can significantly boost your food and beverage brand's visibility and engagement. In addition to featuring recipes on your social media platforms through user-generated content (UGC) and micro-influencers, consider tapping into the vast potential of food blogs.
With hundreds of thousands of food blogs collectively amassing billions of views each month, there's a high demand for new and exciting recipes. By collaborating with these platforms, your product can reach an extensive audience that's already interested in food and cooking.
Additionally, featuring recipes on your website serves a dual purpose. First, it educates consumers on how to integrate your product into their meals, enhancing its perceived value. Second, it boosts your SEO efforts. Recipes often command a significant search volume and can help your website show up in consumer search results, increasing organic traffic.
Remember, food and recipes rank among the top five categories on social media. Therefore, effectively leveraging recipe content can ensure your brand is well-positioned to capitalize on this high-demand segment.
Despite around 90% of grocery retail sales occurring in brick-and-mortar stores, digital marketing remains a crucial strategy for food and beverage brands. The rise of online grocery shopping and the increasing interconnection between physical and digital retail spaces affirm this. Retailers are encouraging suppliers to bolster their online presence and invest in digital campaigns aimed at driving in-store sales velocity.
It's essential to ensure that your digital marketing efforts direct consumers towards one of three things: a detailed store locator on your website, a digital promo aimed at driving in-store trials or conversions, or your product detail page on retailer.com. The 'link in bio' feature on social media platforms is a convenient mechanism for achieving this in micro influencer campaigns and user-generated content.
Moreover, consider retargeting website visitors and those who've engaged with your social media posts using email marketing or direct mailers via services like Modern Postcard. These strategies can help bridge the gap from the top of the sales funnel (online) to the bottom (in a brick & mortar retailer), reinforcing your omni-channel approach.
Retailers are increasingly recognizing the potential of their online platforms as valuable advertising real estate. Websites and apps that receive millions of visits per month, like Kroger.com, present significant opportunities for targeted advertising. Retail media networks offer several advantages over other marketing channels.
In the fast-paced world of consumer goods, product reviews serve as an indispensable tool for building buyer confidence and gathering valuable feedback about the taste, quality, and branding of your product. A positive review can significantly enhance the product's ranking on the retailer's website, leading to increased visibility and potential sales. The Spiegel Research Center found that displaying reviews can boost conversion rates on product detail pages by a staggering 270 percent. This demonstrates the profound influence that customer testimonials can have on purchasing decisions.
Moreover, garnering positive reviews on retailer websites can go a long way in establishing your product's resonance with the store's clientele. Even if your product isn't meeting sales velocity expectations in the early stages, these reviews can offer the retailer qualitative proof of your product's appeal. This evidence can encourage the retailer to continue stocking your product, with the expectation that the positive customer sentiment will eventually translate into robust sales. In conclusion, product reviews serve not only as a marketing tool, but also as a valuable feedback mechanism that can provide insights to drive product improvements and ultimately, sales growth.
In conclusion, there are diverse marketing strategies that food and beverage brands can leverage to strengthen their market presence and drive sales. Traditional marketing tactics like in-person demos, event sponsorship, and radio ads still have their place, but the shift towards digital channels like social media, OTT streaming services, and YouTube is undeniable. Utilizing user-generated content, influencer marketing, and recipe content can be instrumental in reaching consumers in a more authentic and engaging way. The rising significance of retail media networks and product reviews cannot be understated as they not only boost visibility but also strengthen relationships with retailers. The blend of all these strategies helps in creating an effective omni-channel marketing strategy that meets consumers where they are, be it online or in-store. The dynamic marketing landscape requires brands to adapt and employ a mix of these strategies to stay competitive and grow their businesses.