Businesses should analyse trends to identify how products may perform across different regions, genders or interest groups – taking into account how online debates about health and ingredients could impact on their products, the report claimed.
Dinah Alobeid, public relations manager at Brandwatch said: “The past decade witnessed a social movement for healthy, high-quality and transparent food and beverage products gain substantial momentum.
Ideated on social media
“As the economy has slowly pulled forward since 2008, an increasing number of consumers are making decisions beyond their cheapest option. These shifts are first ideated in the conversations of the informed consumer, now empowered by widespread technologies, such as social media, that facilitate the rapid dissemination of thoughts and opinions.”
While social media has broken down communication borders, ideas and opinions have not spread evenly across sexes, it added.
For example, the current health trend – which included conversations about kale online – is predominately female, Alobeid claimed.
“For brands, identifying and acting upon such trends [as health] is essential for capitalising on and preparing for fluctuations in consumer interests,” she added.
To gauge a true understanding of motives behind trends or purchasing decisions firms should monitor various words that relate to their products, Brandwatch claimed.
For example, health firms were advised to monitor online discussions about ‘general health’, ‘body image’, ‘taste’ and ‘exercise’.
Firms should also set in place a monitoring system that discovers niche markets before they become large trends; uncover the specific language that consumers are using around a product and how it affects social perception and understand how products are perceived online compared with their competition, according to the report.
The report claimed many food manufacturers were misguided over the most effective time to send out tweets.
It revealed that tweets discussing an intention to eat healthy were most common around 3pm and 9pm, yet tweets from leading health food firms were most common during regular work hours and peaked from 11am-12pm.
“The discrepancy in account activity between consumers with healthy eating intentions and brands providing health food indicates that brands are not fully engaging with an inclined audience,” Alobied added.
Earlier this year, Mash Direct marketing director Jack Hamilton said timing tweets to reach shoppers at teatime was paying off for the Northern Irish food manufacturer.
Businesses should also monitor words such as ‘labelling laws’, ‘aspartame’, ‘stevia’ and ‘calorie content’ to understand how interested consumers are in topics of debate between government and industry, the report claimed.
Read the full report here.