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#foodporn: Social media is the future of food

By Jon Edwards, Head of sales



The Drum Network article

This content is produced by The Drum Network, a paid-for membership club for CEOs and their agencies who want to share their expertise and grow their business.

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November 8, 2019 | 6 min read

Award-winning media publisher, Social Chain, have released their latest data-driven insights report, 'The Flavour of Social', an exploration into the world of food and social media. Social Chain owns and operates Love Food, one of the largest social-first food publishers in the UK with over 10million followers across social, and with this wealth of data have deducted how foodies interact with social content and how this influences their consumer habits. With the UK government reporting consumer spending of food, drink and hospitality above £226bn in 2018, it has never been more important for brands and marketers in the industry to understand the challenges of this lucrative industry.

Flavour of Social

Throughout this report, Social Chain worked with Tubular Labs and GlobalWebIndex to use their industry-leading analytics tools to present how and why consumer demands are changing.

Since it reached the mainstream, food brands have understood the power of social media, with any respectable brand having a presence online. The research reveals that the core foodie are five times more likely to use recipes they have sourced digitally compared to TV, which still remains as one of the most popular and effective ways of promoting food.

Less known is the use of ‘dark social’ by internet foodies - 62% of foodies share recipe videos with friends and family via messenger, WhatsApp and Facebook groups. This sharing behaviour is 50% more likely than public measures, such as tagging them in the comments and more than twice as likely as them showing them the video in person. Food has also been shown to be one of the best categories for long-form content, showing it can keep users attention the longest for videos. If brands understand how best to harness these points, they can get a foot in a sector that’s yet to be fully capitalised.


Understanding what kind of content consumers want is also paramount. Traditionally food porn has ruled on social media, yet findings show that tastes have broadened and so has our appetite for food and drink content. 50% of foodies say they seek new ingredients in recipe videos they’ve not seen before, making it the most popular type of content. With 46% seeking out indulgent food content, we can see that the #foodporn trend is maturing and foodies value a variety of content. This year, the food topic that has received the most video views is street food and food trucks, beating pizza, burgers and even health foods.

Video content has been highlighted as one of the best ways to influence the consumer habits of the foodies. 53% of foodies stated that videos are their favourite type of food content on social media, compared to 35% of foodies who suggest pictures. 54% of foodies save recipe videos on social media so they can make it at home for themselves, showing an intent to purchase directly resulting from the content they see on social. What consumers look for the most in video recipes are those that will educate them. Foodies want convenience, new meals, cost savings or ways to make impressive meals to share with family and friends.

The report also sheds light on the spending habits of foodies. 54% spend most of their disposable income on food, this ranks higher than any other leisure activity, while a third of foodies regularly shop online for groceries. And when it comes to eating out 1 in 4 foodies check the venues Instagram feed before they visit, reinforcing the importance of social media content for the hospitality industry.

Demands for brands

Foodies have four major demand for brands on social: value, education, attraction and sustainability. Brands who are able to blend all four of these ingredients on social will have a winning recipe. The research also identified six major psychographic groups amongst foodies that will help marketers further pinpoint who exactly their audiences are. These profiles consist of Bakers, Budgeters, Anti-cooks, Alt-dieters, Adventurers and Hosts.

Food and drink brands need to go beyond claims such as ‘the original’ or ‘the first’ and consider how their story resonates and helps others express their identity. Emotion is still king in food and drink, but we’re also hungry for meaning. Due to its dynamic conversational nature, social is the new battleground for marketers to serve us their story.

Denis Crushell, managing director international at Tubular Labs adds: “Food and drink content is universal and crosses generational gaps, cultural differences, and even language barriers. This makes food content an attractive proposition both for media companies looking to monetize their audiences and also for brands looking to reach broad demographics.”

Chris Beer, trends analyst at GlobalWebIndex, comments: With food being so integral to our lives, these insights can shed a light on how our everyday habits are changing. We found that going online is commonly done when eating at home by all age demographics, making it the second most popular activity to do while eating at home, after TV. Understanding these cultural shifts and the parallels between the internet and TV will help brands in the industry to thrive.”

All statistics and more feature on the full report The Flavour of Social: An exploration into the world of food and social, which can be downloaded here.


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