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Social Media UPDATE

By Kathleen Furore

The digital landscape is changing at breakneck speed, impacting companies throughout the food and beverage supply chain. If you’re a meat or cheese company that’s not embracing social media (or at the very least exploring ways you can reach customers on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube), you’re not only missing a key marketing opportunity—you’re also ceding the social media space to your competitors.


Just how important is using technology to reach consumers today?

So important that the topic was front and center at the National Retail Federation’s Big Show in New York City in mid-January.


“From automation to personalization to social marketing, the growing importance of technology in the shopping experience was definitely top-of-mind for retailers and brands, including those in the food and beverage space,” a Smartbrief report about the event said.

As Jamie Crespi, vice president of marketing at Blis, a leader in location data technology, explained in a June 2018 post at, “Visibility and accessibility both online and offline are fundamental in a world that requires brands constantly build and rebuild the consumer relationship.”

How Brands Are Building Awareness


A look at two meat manufacturers illustrates how companies can utilize a social media strategy to build brand awareness.


Boar’s Head is one example.

On the company’s website, a page designed specifically for the back-to-school timeframe ( touts a “Welcome Back Parents” message. The site includes a weekly lunch planner anyone visiting the site can customize to meet their childrens’ culinary preferences. They can pick their favorite protein (turkey, chicken, ham or “adventurous”), then click on each day of the week to discover a simple-to-make, kid-pleasing recipe.

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The company’s YouTube videos offer company information and food prep tips in “episodes” such as “The Boar's Head Brand® Story,” which generated 181,364 views, and  “Boar's Head Sweet Slice Ham—Spring Time Entertaining”—a video that has generated 58,318 views to date.

In addition, Boar’s Head works in tandem with its grocery retail partners to help promote the brand.


In April, Publix announced in a Facebook post that it was celebrating 25 years of partnership with Boar’s Head, then posed this question: “From their delicious cheeses to savory sliced meats, which is your favorite Boar’s Head sandwich combination?” An impressive 1.7 million facebook users have interacted with the post, and 144 have shared it on their own facebook pages.

​And last November, Boar’s Head and King Kullen Grocery, a family-owned supermarket chain with more than


​In another another example of how collaboration can build brand awareness, Dietz & Watson teamed with Philadelphia area ShopRite and Fresh Grocer supermarkets to collect money in support of Susan G. Komen’s fight against breast cancer. Each participating store displayed a giant Dietz & Watson pink piggy bank in its deli department to collect spare change. The campaign was touted on ShopRite’s social media platforms including Facebook and at


30 locations in New York’s Nassau and Suffolk counties, celebrated twenty years of working together. The grocer announced the milestone on its website, along with an invitation for customers to explore “all the new Boar’s Head items available in King Kullen‘s deli department.” It went on to suggest several “autumn-inspired recipes made with premium products,” then provided links back to recipes such as the Ovengold Thanksgiving Sandwich on Boar’s Head website.


Why supermarket tie-ins are important

According to U.S. Supermarket Shopper Digital Update, a survey the Retail Feedback Group released in February 2017, more than half (56 percent) of supermarket shoppers interact with their primary food store on one or more digital platforms. 

Among those who do, checking the digital circular is most prevalent (65 percent), followed by researching special promotions (48 percent) and building grocery lists (46 percent), among other activities. Millennials are interacting on digital platforms at a higher rate (66 percent) as compared to Boomers (47 percent).

As RFG Principal Brian Numainville noted, many shoppers will change their behavior based on recommendations from their social network—which means there’s a tremendous opportunity to build brand recognition and sales by tapping technology.

​“Our research shows that 45 percent of supermarket shoppers are very willing to make a new recipe or meal and 32 percent are very willing to purchase a new food item based on social network suggestions,” Numainville says.


Social media sites used most heavily by supermarket shoppers include Facebook (89 percent), YouTube (53 percent) Twitter (30 percent), Pinterest (29 percent) and Instagram (28 percent). And preferences vary based on age: Millennials use YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat more heavily than other generations, the survey says.


Experiential marketing is also key to millennials

Seventy-two percent of millennials prefer to spend money on experiences rather than material things. That finding from a recent Harris Group study might seem like bad news for deli retailers and for the brands they carry.

But as the study notes, it can be a positive for companies willing “to shift [their] thinking and [their] delivery to give customers those memories they desire.”

For deli meat and cheese companies, that might mean working with retailers to create food and beverage tastings, mini pop-up shops or special events that can be promoted via social media. That, in turn, can generate a substantial amount of post-experience publicity for the retailer and the brand.

“Consumers often talk about the experience with friends,” the Harris Group reports. “More importantly, they post on social media.

Seventy-three percent of consumers post pictures, and 49% share videos of the events, according to a study by Event Marketing Institute.

88% of 18- to 29-year-olds indicate that they use any form of social media. That share falls to 78% among those ages 30 to 49, to 64% among those ages 50 to 64 and to 37% among Americans 65 and older.

Americans ages 18 to 24 are substantially more likely to use platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter even when compared with those in their mid- to late-20s. These differences are especially notable when it comes to Snapchat: 78% of 18- to 24-year-olds are Snapchat users, but that share falls to 54% among those ages 25 to 29.

With the exception of those 65 and older, Facebook is used by a majority of Americans across a wide range of demographic groups.

A majority of Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram users visit those platforms daily (see graph at right).


A Snapshot of Social Media Users

A new Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults finds that the social media landscape in early 2018 is defined by a mix of long-standing trends and newly emerging narratives. Key findings include:

For a more comprehensive look at the survey, visit

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