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Millennials Go to Instagram When They Crave for Food, Brands Should Take Advantage of This

There’s usually no-frills when I dine out by myself or with colleagues. It only involves picking a restaurant based on proximity and previous experience, order food, eat it, and talk to each other in between bites (only when I’m not by myself, of course).

The whole process changes when I’m with family which includes two millennials. Most of the time, we end up going to a restaurant they found on the “gram.” Ordering the item that was posted on the restaurant’s account the other day, and before we can eat, a photo of the food has to be taken, filtered, and posted on Instagram.

I’m not complaining. It’s a great way to discover new restaurants, food outlets, kiosks, and cuisines. It’s also great to know that such behavior is perfectly normal. 

30% of millennials aged 18 to 25 won’t go inside a restaurant that isn’t active on Instagram, and most of them actually spend a total of five days browsing images of food on Instagram. It’s no wonder then that they base their dining decisions on their Instagram experience.

Cronut: From viral snaps to patent

You may know the story of the Cronut already. It’s a pastry that’s a combination of a doughnut and a croissant, invented by Dominique Ansel Bakery which has branches in New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo, and London. It went viral in 2013 when customers took pictures of it and posted them. Obviously, the Cronut is a delicious treat, and the captions said it all. 

People started waiting in very long lines just to get hold of the $5 viral Cronut, and because of this, some customers go to the black market which sold it for $40 each, according to some news media. The company even patented the name. 

Millennials Go to Instagram When They Crave for Food-Brands Should Take Advantage of This

@dominiqueansel Instagram Post on Doughnut Day. The Screenshot was taken on August 13, 2019

When Dominique Ansel offered 1,000 “Cronut Hole Concretes” at Shake Shack’s Madison Square Park branch, people were lining up as early as four in the morning. 

Take note that all these started with customers snapping some pictures and posting them on Instagram. The bakery also has a strong presence on Instagram. 

Other viral sensations aside from the delicious Cronut are:

  • Peanut butter and jelly ravioli
  • Rainbow bagels
  • Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal milk cocktails
  • Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer milkshakes

Brands that go viral are creative and they adapt to the consumer habits of millennials. User-generated content is encouraged and rewarded with attention, and people love this. 

Social media marketing in the food industry

It’s no wonder then that almost all businesses, from small enterprises to Fortune 500 brands, have turned their marketing efforts to social media, specifically Instagram. The trend in ad spending is on Instagram, which is true also for businesses outside the food industry. Jim Sellers, CEO of the blockchain-based influencer marketing platform called Buttrfly, had this to say: “Social media ads, on-demand services, programmatic ad-spend, and influencer marketing are all projected to grow 20 times over their current presence over the next 10 years.”

When it comes to influencer marketing, Instagram is by far the most powerful platform for both food franchises and small businesses. 

Take Applebee, for instance. The franchise chain knows the importance of social media, which is evident in their 2014 Fantographer campaign where followers were encouraged to upload:

  • Photos of their food
  • Selfies inside an Applebee restaurant
  • Photos of any random moment inside the restaurant

The customers would tag @Applebees and the food chain would repost the pictures on their own Instagram account, with the permission of the customer. The campaign was very successful. The campaign’s accomplishments include:

Applebees basically encouraged their customers to take their experiences online where it created awareness for people who wouldn’t have engaged with the brand otherwise. Other food brands are following in the company’s footsteps in encouraging brand loyalty and advocacy. 

Social media vs traditional media

More and more businesses have shifted their focus and budget from traditional marketing to social media marketing, and for good reason too. Let me enumerate some key differences between social media and traditional media.

  • Sales funnel ad spend is easier to track: Click-throughs to a website can easily be tracked using the built-in analytics on Instagram and other social platforms, while it’s difficult to directly trace a purchase to a billboard. 
  • Digital ad spend is easy to monitor: Spending on print ads and other traditional media tends to be a lot more expensive.
  • Social media marketing can be flexible: Since you can edit it when you make major changes to the campaign. With traditional marketing, once a marketing flyer or magazine print ad is out, you need to recall all of them (which is impossible in most cases) and spend a lot of money if there is an error or an update.
  • Social media marketing is more targeted, and you can choose the demographics, interests, and consumer behavior of the audience. In traditional marketing, you just put a billboard out there or publish an ad in the newspaper or magazine, hoping that the right people will see it.

I can go on and on about the differences between social media and traditional media, but you already see that there are a lot of benefits if you focus on social media instead. Large, successful brands survived, as they adapted to the changes in the marketing industry.

What’s a brand got to do?

Focusing on social media marketing will be the best thing a brand can do. Food brands, e-commerce, and services have proven this over and over again. It’s not all rainbows and butterflies though. There are bound to be challenges and a lot of competition, but here are some tips for you:

  • Don’t forget the five P’s of marketing: Keep the millennials in mind when you formulate the five P’s of marketing: Product, price, place, promotion, and people. Millennial consumer behavior is influencing even those who don’t belong to their age group and are the driving force in consumer spending. 
  • Draw inspiration from your customers: Orient your staff so that when customers take pictures of their food, they will automatically be given special service. A staff can perhaps build rapport and ask them to tag your company’s official Instagram account when they post the photo. When they do upload the picture, repost it after asking permission from the customer. This way, you have user-generated digital resources from your audience. Read their captions too, and take note of everything they say, especially those that you need to improve on.
  • Collaborate with other similarly-sized Instagram accounts: It’s not called social media for anything. Collaboration is the core of social media, so you need to reach out to other influencers to attract followers that will become buying customers in the future. Go for accounts with the same range of follower count as you and whose niche is similar. For instance, if you are selling bagels, you can partner with a coffee shop or a brand of beer.  
Millennials Go to Instagram When They Crave for Food-Brands Should Take Advantage of This

@finebagels collaboration with @motelbrews. The Screenshot was taken on August 13, 2019

  • Be Instagram-ready: Aside from ensuring that your food products are delicious, make sure that they are also aesthetically mouth-watering and the presentation is “Instagrammable.” Your restaurant space must also be photo-ready so that customers will be encouraged to take photos.

The restaurant market today is very different from what it was a decade ago, mainly because consumer behavior has significantly changed. People don’t just go for food for the sake of filling their stomachs, they go for the experience, for connections. They want something that comes with a story, and if a brand can’t give it to them, they can easily move on to the competition which can.

Date: October 24, 2019 / Categories: Tips, / Author: Disturbinsilence


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