I work for a large grocery store chain in western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio called Giant Eagle. Social media in the grocery world can be extremely influential if done properly. However, according to the report, “Untangling the Social Web: Insights for Users, Brands and Retailers,” one of the surveys uncovered that nearly 70 percent of supermarket chief marketing officers state they feel unprepared to integrate social media into their marketing mix. The main reason was lack of a starting point. But this report provides ideas about how to start a successful social media campaign and gain footing as it grows.
Food is one of the top subjects of discussion among social web users. So, it is important for the grocery industry to engage because their customers spend significant time talking about shopping experiences, stores and products on social media platforms. Because of this supermarkets are not just providing coupons and specials. They are engaging their customers by listening to and understanding their consumers, participating in discussions with them and creating places for them to gather and build loyalty. Facebook seems to be the preferred social channel for the grocery industry. With the exception of Whole Foods whose upscale clientele and price points lean towards the cutting edge technologists have a larger Twitter following, grocery stores’ customers are more mainstream and family-oriented which fits in better with the Facebook platform.
In addition, supermarket chains have used social media to promote the corporate social responsibility. Whole Foods, an organic and natural foods chain from Austin Texas, hired 5W Public Relations to promote their “School Lunch Revolution” and theLunchBox.org campaign. Whole Foods backed website designed to help transform school lunches across the country and combat childhood obesity. It became of the most innovative and successful marketing campaigns to help changes school lunches and procedures. Giant Eagle has a loyalty program, Advantage Card, which is used when purchasing food and gas from its GetGo gas stations. Her campaign, along with Young & Rubicam, Chicago, “That’s My Giant Eagle Advantage” allowed a place for customers and team members to display various reasons for choosing Giant Eagle. People posted their stories online through Facebook and the Giant Eagle’s internet site either through text or video. This was a very popular campaign with the customer focus groups and team members alike.
Even though all supermarket chains can benefit from social media, there is a vast difference active social media presence between the two. National chains have more of a budget and audience. A bigger national impression means there are more resources to put against social channels and the more potential people they can reach. One of the clear disparities in having the scale and budgets is that ability to invest in high quality content and people to engage in conversations around that content. So, the large chains began to think like a media company. Since there is a large reduction in the cost of production and in its distribution, it is now cheaper and less complicated to create the media directly, or in conjunction with a partner. This has opened up a greater YouTube presence. Whole Foods has many recipes and how to prepare those videos as well as videos from founder John Mackey discussing who Whole Foods is and its culture. Giant Eagle has videos ranging from preparing Market District products (their own line). This started customers to bring in their own ideas on recipes and post them. The grocery chain had many good recipes that a book by made. It is being considered.
Social media in the supermarket business can be very beneficial for promoting their brand, their products and their culture. Although many chains use it relatively proficient in it, many more are still apprehensive. Either way, social media is a powerful tool that is growing in followers and for stores to be successful, they need to utilize it.
Twitter, LinkedIn Logical Social Media Entry Points: Study (Apr 2012), http://www.progressivegrocer.com/top-stories/headlines/technology/id35201/twitter-linkedin-logical-social-media-entry-points-study
Chris Heuer On Grocery Store Social Media Marketing (August 31, 2010), http://pr.typepad.com/pr_communications/2010/08/chris-heuer-on-grocery-store-social-media-marketing.html
Whole Foods Market Case Study, http://www.5wpr.com/practice/casestudy-WholeFoods.cfm, accessed on Feb 2013
Hamstra, Mark (Jan, 2011), Advantage: Giant Eagle’s Lisa Henriksen, http://supermarketnews.com/marketing/advantage-giant-eagles-lisa-henriksen
Whole Foods Market on YouTube, http://www.youtube.com/user/WholeFoodsMarket/videos?view=0