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Consumers Take Control of Food and Beverage Content Online

Brands Leverage User-Generated Content for Greater Engagement

NEW YORK, NY (September 7, 2012)— A new eMarketer report finds that consumers turn to digital media when they want to share food and drink experiences, and it’s also where they look for meal inspiration and solutions from people like themselves. Brands that want to connect with users on a more human scale can leverage this naturally occurring behavior.

The new report, “User-Generated Food and Beverage Content: Satisfying a Hunger to Create and Share,” analyzes findings from dozens of third-party research providers and interviews with industry executives about how food and beverage brands can better harness user-generated content for consumer engagement, answering key questions such as:

  • What types of food and beverage content are users creating and seeking?
  • Why are real people important in food and beverage marketing?
  • How can brands leverage user-generated content?

What was once niche—taking photos of food and writing about meals online—is transforming into a mainstream activity. In May 2012 Compete found that food was by far the leading topic category for interactions on image-sharing site Pinterest.

For a substantial number of users, discovery led to conversion: 25% overall had bought a product after discovering it on Pinterest, and surprisingly, considering Pinterest’s reputation as a female stronghold, 37% of male users were spurred to buy, compared to just 17% of female users.

In addition to photos, user-generated recipes are one of the most sought-after pieces of food content online, and recipe sites are also highly influential on purchase decisions. Allrecipes.com, a site that mixes user-submitted recipes with ones from brands conducted a survey that found that 58.3% of internet users favored dedicated recipe sites when looking for recipes online. And when asked to choose one cooking aid for life, websites took the top spot (44%) over cookbooks, parents and recipe cards from family and friends.

Also according to Allrecipes.com, 65% of females who regularly used recipe sites bought branded ingredients called for in the recipes at least sometimes. Twenty-one percent said they “usually” did this. Additionally, recommendations from online recipe sites were the biggest online driver of food purchases among both food bloggers and general internet users in a 2012 BlogHer survey.

Marketers can leverage this user-generated content by tapping into the latest social sharing trends, such as Instagram and Pinterest, and incorporating consumer content with their own posts. Contests utilizing the brand’s products, such as bake-offs or themed dinner parties draw consumers in while highlighting all the ways in which the product can be used.

“When it comes to making product decisions, consumers will always trust people like themselves over faceless corporations,” said eMarketer. “So investing in user-generated content is a sound way to humanize food and beverage brands—no Jolly Green Giant or Aunt Jemima necessary.”

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Clark Fredricksen
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Posted on September 7, 2012.