The food and beverage (F&B) industry encompasses multiple sectors of food production and distribution. From factory-processed consumables to restaurant-cooked meals, as well as all sorts of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, it is a robust market that offers consumers variety. With cut throat food and beverage marketing strategies and diverse trends, businesses in this sphere adopt several techniques to appeal to consumers.
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A Digitized Food and Beverage Industry
The global food and drink industry is a lucrative landscape, and, according to the 2023 Global Market Report, it is worth $7,221.73 billion. By 2027, experts expect this figure to reach an estimated USD 9 trillion.
Digitization has transformed countless industries with constant technological advancements and the F&B industry is one of them, particularly in the area of digital marketing. From fully mechanized kitchens and sensors that gather data on product performance, to software that can assess shelf life or digitally book reservations, leading food and beverage operators have leveraged digital technologies for optimized services.
The Covid-19 pandemic forced businesses in the food and beverage industry to digitize operations. As interactions with customers were limited, entrepreneurs had to think of innovative ways to keep their businesses running. However, the peculiarities introduced a goal that wasn’t just about surviving but also about coming out stronger.
Digitization offered the solution to hit the ground running. Among others, online grocery shopping, better food delivery services, increased social media presence, and optimized digital food and drink marketing, are fine examples of the digital revolution that seized the F&B industry. Admittedly, few of these practices already existed before the pandemic. However, the crisis served as a catalyst, introducing newer technologies and optimizing already existing ones.
Trending Consumer Practices
In a highly competitive market such as this, a solid food and beverage digital marketing strategy is essential. However, using the wrong sales plan is perhaps more disappointing than having no strategy in the first place. Intentional marketing utilizes relevant information at your disposal to design effective marketing strategies that drive sales. To achieve this, businesses need to stay on top of the latest trends in the food and beverage industry. This helps to identify what consumers value and additionally, map out the applicable marketing strategies. Here are some of the trends to consider.
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Veganism has become a buzzword in the food industry. Data from NielsenIQ, a consumer intelligence company, reveals that the word “vegan” is the second most searched snack term online and the seventh most relevant word across all grocery-shopping websites. Several consumers now opt for plant-based alternatives to traditional foods like milk and meat while others completely maintain vegan diets, abstaining from animal products altogether.
Interestingly, while vegetarianism and veganism are becoming increasingly popular, only about 6% of U.S. consumers identified as Vegan as of 2022. This shows that plant-based meals are popular among non-vegetarian consumers as well.
With unhealthy diets as the leading cause of obesity and other health issues like cardiovascular diseases, consumers are increasingly becoming more conscious of their feeding habits. Organic foods circumvent all artificial food processing and offer consumers fresh produce for healthy living. Enthusiasts often shop for produce from local markets or farms for guaranteed quality. From parents who desire healthier meals for their kids, to individuals trying to make better lifestyle choices, and even social media influencers who simply want to embody the movement, organic living has become a prominent trend among several social groups.
With climate change looming over everything, consumers want to know that their products are eco-conscious. Society now frowns upon products made from single-use items while regarding recycled or repurposed materials as ethically superior. Consequently, consumers want to see companies making a concerted effort to responsibly source and distribute materials with respect for the planet and its inhabitants.
Additionally, zero-waste initiatives are gaining popularity. This applies to both material and food waste. In a bid to reduce waste pollution, consumers now favor biodegradable materials over plastic. Likewise, to slash the estimated 30% to 40% of food wasted yearly as reported by the US Department of Agriculture, consumers are now finding innovative ways to avoid wastage. This includes sharing leftover meals with the underprivileged and using them as compost.
Variety, they say, is the spice of life. While some consumers have staples on the menu, others prefer to tailor what they eat. Food customization is an interesting trend among consumers where they get to combine various elements from different arrangements on the menu. Although certain difficulties like cross-contamination, flavor incompatibility, and ingredient allergies threaten this trend, businesses find suitable solutions for modifications with favorable results.
As the digital space continues to expand, consumers are getting acquainted with various corners of the planet and their respective delicacies. The more foreign dishes people see online, the more they desire to taste them. According to Fona, a food flavoring company, about 55% of shoppers order global foods from grocery stores at least once a month. With several online recipes native to various parts of the world, consumers can now have a taste of diverse cultures within the comfort of their own homes.
Aesthetically Appealing Dishes
This is perhaps the most popular food trend in the industry. In addition to taste, consumers also want trendy foods and drinks that look good. After all, sumptuous cuisine affects all our senses. Even hearing chicken sizzle in hot oil is enough to create desire in some. However, our sense of sight is perhaps one of the most sensitive when it comes to foods, following closely behind taste and smell.
Merely seeing a beautifully plated meal is enough to make the average person salivate because we immediately assume the taste from what we see. With the availability of multiple platforms for sharing visually striking content, this trend, also known as “instagrammable foods” isn’t going away any time soon.
Top Digital Marketing Trends in the Food and Beverage Industry
Now that you know the popular practices among your target consumers, here are some marketing trends to consider. These will help you reach out to prospects in the digital space and convert them into customers.
1. Eco-Friendly Branding
Awareness about environmental sustainability is at an all-time high. Gone are the days when consumers were unbothered about the effects of industrialization on the environment. With more people adopting eco-friendly lifestyles, many consumers will only associate with brands that are also environmentally conscious, particularly in the food and beverage industry.
Simply put, your brand is your business personality. Beyond the product and services you offer, your brand determines your reputation in the public eye. To appeal to the demographic of consumers who value eco-friendly practices, your brand should communicate that you share the same sentiments about the environment. While product packaging is a prominent part of branding, the most effective methods are in the digital sphere.
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Digital marketing for food brands acquaints consumers with your business even before they hold your product in their hands or experience your services. For instance, your company website is a powerful digital marketing tool but it is also an efficient medium for introducing and promoting your brand identity. Additionally, because consumers are likely to research your business online before patronizing it, it is vital that your digital brand tallies with the values of your target audience.
2. Social Media Marketing
According to Statista, there are over 5 billion internet users in the world and the average one spends about 147 minutes on social media every day. This goes to show that social media is a great platform to market your business. As a food and beverage company, it’s even more effective because most social media networks are visually tailored. You can leverage this by appealing to your consumers’ sense of sight.
Through sponsored social media ads and influencer marketing, you can attract and convert customers with visually-striking posts and promotional offers for your followers. Additionally, social media’s far-reaching capabilities help break geographical limitations by making your online presence accessible in any corner of the globe. More so, users can share your content with their followers, creating an ever-growing chain of visibility for your business.
3. Google My Business
Local food and beverage set ups stand to benefit by creating Google My Business (GMB) profiles, as it makes them visible to potential customers within their area. According to Gitnux, a digital services review company, about 64% of consumers use this service to find businesses online.
Once people search for businesses like yours on Google, particularly on Google Maps, you’re included in their top results. They can immediately review your details, which is why your profile needs to be completed and regularly updated.
For the best results, add all relevant business information to your GMB profile. These include attractive photos of your business, its physical address, working hours, multiple ways to contact you, and your company website (if you have one). These important details make it easier for local customers to find and trust your business.
4. Food Blogging/Vlogging
Food blogging combines tasteful writing with food photography to deliver satisfying experiences to consumers. Many aspiring chefs and leisure cooks religiously follow several food blogs across the internet. This holds many opportunities for your business. You can run paid ads on popular blogs, have bloggers review your products and services, or create your own blog; marketing your business yourself.
On the other hand, food vlogging is all about creating videos of food (cooking or eating) and is becoming one of the most rewarding niches in the food and drink industry. Whether it’s to learn new recipes or simply to satisfy cravings, consumers are flocking en-mass to watch these videos. Interestingly, there is an assortment of these vlogs across various skill sets. Be it the amateurish beginner, the up-and-coming home cook, or the professional chef, food vlogging caters to various tastes and levels of sophistication.
You can leverage this for your business by marketing your brand to an already established audience. Consider sponsoring food vloggers or sending them your products to cook in front of their millions of subscribers. Additionally, if you are in the restaurant business, you can invite some prolific food vloggers and influencers to your establishment. Have them enjoy your services in front of their fan base and recommend your brand with added incentives. You can also manage your own account on video hosting platforms like YouTube where you showcase your products and services to a growing audience.
5. SEO Content
You need more than just content to drive consumer engagement, you need optimized content for high-ranking relevance. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an essential part of your online presence. It helps consumers find you when searching for products and services linked with your business. It is also the leading source of organic web traffic.
When people conduct searches on platforms like Google, they get to view different websites on the results pages. However, you don’t just automatically appear on search engine results pages (SERPs) because they rank websites based on how relevant their content is and other factors. With a near-saturated online world, using the right keywords in your content optimizes it, thereby multiplying your chances of visibility.
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6. Email Marketing
Statista reports that companies can expect up to a $45 return on every dollar invested in email marketing, making it one of the highest ROIs in the business world. If you are looking to diversify your marketing channels, you should consider email marketing.
However, avoid spamming consumers with random emails. When customers grant you access to their emails, personalize their experiences by sending them relevant information about your services. Monitor their interactions with your business to determine which products and services would interest them. For instance, a customer who frequently orders pizza would appreciate emails about special pizza offers. Such targeted emails drive sales by encouraging customers to indulge their habits.
From showcasing the right brand personality to leveraging social media and optimizing your website for better visibility, we have highlighted some of the top trends surrounding digital marketing for food products. Remember that your F&B business needs an effective marketing strategy to survive in a fiercely competitive industry, and partnering with a results-driven digital agency gives you means to implement these strategies and reap the rewards.