Report: How millennials, service and engagement are trending on social in food and beverage

Social media has come to be a vital part of nearly every business in nearly every industry. In food and beverage, social media carries a significant weight among consumers looking to connect with the brands who are responsible for the products they eat and drink every day.

Thanks to social media, shoppers can call out consumer packaged goods brands, food retailers and restaurants alike more easily than in past eras -- for better or worse. In fact, nearly half of consumers have taken to social media to call a brand out, with 55% looking for a response from the brand or the solution to an issue, according to a study by Sprout Social.

The study found that the rise of social media has created a “culture of accountability” among brands, and that 81% of consumers credit social media with making brands more accountable for their actions and their customer service. From highlighting the way brands treat consumers and encouraging transparency among brands to giving consumers more power over the way they experience brands, social media has played a large part in making brands more accountable.

So how are these findings reflected in real life in the food and beverage industry? SmartBrief took a look at recent coverage from our food and beverage newsletters for some real world examples of some of the highlights from Sprout Social’s report:

Trend: Millennials’ prevalence on social

According to the report, 46% of consumers have called out a business on social media, but when looking at the data by generation, Sprout Social found that the number increases to 56% among millennial consumers, making them 43% more likely to take such actions than members of other generations. When millennials have a concern about a brand, the first channel they turn to is social media, ahead of in person, via email or over the phone.

Food and beverage brands reaching out to millennials via social media has been a common topic covered by SmartBrief in recent weeks, from CPG brands and restaurants to the wine category:

Trend: Serving customers through digital channels

Bad customer experiences drive negative brand call-outs on social media, Sprout Social’s report found. Dishonesty, bad customer service, rudeness and bad product experiences accounted for the top reasons consumers use social media to call out brands. What’s more, 54% of consumers who call out brands on social media do so to elicit a response from the brands. And consumers drawing attention to negative customer experiences on social media affects the perception of the brands in the eyes of their followers and friends, the report found.

The findings emphasize the importance of customer service in all channels, including digital and social channels. In its coverage of the food and beverage industry, SmartBrief has come across several instances of brands using social and other digital channels to practice good customer service:

Trend: The importance of actively engaging with consumers

The way brands engage with consumers on social media and respond to social call-outs has a lot to do with brand perception and customer loyalty, the report revealed. Most social interactions with brands that involve consumers calling them out go one of three ways: brands ignore the call-outs, they respond poorly or they respond in a way that leaves consumers satisfied. Consumers who get ignored are most likely to try getting to the brand through a different channel, boycott the brand altogether or share the experience with their friends online and off, while consumers whose call-outs are met with poor brand responses are most likely to boycott or share with friends. Consumers who received positive responses are most likely to post about the interaction on social media, share the interaction with friends and make more purchases with the brand, the study found.

The ways that brands engage with consumers and the consequences those interactions carry -- both good and bad -- have also been trending in SmartBrief’s newsletters in recent weeks:

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