- In a new analysis of online and offline conversations about food brands released Thursday, Engagement Labs found that Quaker Oats held the top ranking and was the most talked about. Compared to a previous study in March, Kellogg had fallen from No. 1 to No. 8. Betty Crocker jumped four spots to No. 2, while Oreo and Perdue Chicken both leaped 17 spots to occupy the No. 3 and 4 positions, respectively.
- Besides Kellogg, other brands slipping in the group's latest rankings included Heinz, which dropped from No. 3 to No. 17, along with Pillsbury and Nestle, with the latter two joining Heinz in falling off the top-10 list.
- Quaker Oats' top ranking comes from its online campaigns, according to Engagement Labs CEO Ed Keller. “Over the past six months, Quaker has given their online community a lot to talk about and share — from the launch of their 140th anniversary campaign to debuting innovative products such as single-serve Overnight Oats,” he said in a written statement. Conversely, he said in the statement that Heinz's ranking decline should be a wake-up call for the company to rethink its marketing strategies. “This significant drop in sentiment, combined with low offline volume scores, indicates that consumers aren’t talking about the brand and when they do, it isn’t positive. It’s time to add some spice to the condiment’s marketing strategy.”
The top ranking for Quaker Oats in this analysis makes sense, given its innovative partnership with Chef'd on Overnight Oats meal kits. Oreo's meteoric rise can be attributed to its doubling down on social media outreach, including the ongoing Mondelez campaign — #MyOreoCreation — asking fans to suggest flavors. The company produced some of them and sent them to creators with a personalized note.
The question is whether appearing on such a list equals success or failure for a brand. Does what people are saying about products — either to each other or on social media — really impact a food company in any tangible way? When it comes to millennial consumers, the answer is yes. The trick for any company is to reach out to these plugged-in younger shoppers without alienating the older ones, and being as creative and engaging as possible while doing it.
Exhibit A could be Hershey. Although it did sink seven spots on the latest Engagement Labs ranking, it is still hanging in the top 10 at No. 9. Hershey honed its social media presence years ago through what many companies might have considered a catastrophe. After the legacy chocolate company reintroduced its Reese's Peanut Butter Christmas Trees a few years back, consumers took an instant dislike to the shape and bashed it on social media channels.
Instead of merely apologizing or pledging to improve the design, Hershey's social media team decided to capitalize on the mistake and turn the faux pas into a social marketing bonanza. The confectionery brand responded to the criticism with self-deprecating humor, including an #AllTreesAreBeautiful hashtag and a series of clever ads making fun of the chocolaty blob.
Hershey's CEO later told analysts that the experience "turned what could have been a negative into an amazing opportunity to delight our customers."
It can be difficult for food manufacturers to measure the impact their social media efforts have on sales or their bottom line, but favorable reactions to marketing campaigns can foster a deeper connection and trust in the products — ultimately leading to additional sales.