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Activating Recommendation in the Conversation Age

Word of mouth has forever been a driving force in influencing consumer buying and behavior, and nowhere is it as wide-spread as with food-related decisions. While there are several determinants to food choices – culture, health, economics, lifestyle, to name a few – suggestions from friends and family certainly play a significant role in helping consumers make up their mind.

Today, mere information about the product/service doesn’t cut it. The most flashy, over-the-top advertising messages may not pique the consumer’s interest as much a simple ‘I liked it, you should try it, too’ from a trusted source will. Learning what real consumers of a product think about it has become easier than ever before with the internet. While those in close social circles were the traditional agents of influence, the internet provides a wider network of ‘go-to’ individuals for suggestions – everyone from friends, acquaintances, celebrities, public role models to even absolute strangers from across borders can now sway a consumer’s opinion. It makes sense, too.

A search here and a quick look there can yield hundreds of thousands of results in a matter of seconds. Everything from recipes to restaurant reviews and product samplings are freely available with an effortless click – why wouldn’t consumers flock to it?

As global boundaries and distances continue to rapidly shrink with advanced communications technology, the power of online recommendation will be further amplified, most notably through social networks. This will in effect influence already evolving consumer behaviors around food, more so than at present.

Food companies battling for consumer mind share online can employ several creative tools to turn passive, everyday consumers to vocal brand advocates.

Infographic - RecommendationMake food cool and share worthy

Food is an everyday part of existence – why would anybody talk about something that’s so routine? Making your communication around food – promotions, recipes, product information, etc. – enjoyable enough to make consumers want to share it with their peers is half the battle won.

Enable easy sharing of food messages across the web

When people want to draw their friends’ attention to something online – a recipe or food photograph, for instance – quick access to cross-platform sharing options will make the process hassle-free and successful for them.

Show people how to ‘do’ food

Knowing a little more than the average person about food has already become ‘cool’, thanks to the popularity of food-related entertainment over the past decade. People are interested in the creation of food – show them how to go about it (read recipes) in fun, interesting and easy ways.

Partner with food influencers

The celebrity status enjoyed by well-known chefs and food presenters speaks volumes about the ‘desirability’ factor of food expertise. Having a popular chef or other food celebrity on board as an ambassador can significantly help brand popularity with consumers.

This article is a part of MSLGROUP’s report The Future of Food Communications: Winning Share of Mouth in the Conversation Age.

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