Unlock New Food Prospects with Improved Media Targeting

With the rise of the millennial generation, food priorities are shifting. Often more inquisitive about their food from source to plate, this digital native is applying greater pressure on food brands. Demanding transparency, they expect honesty in marketing messaging and public persona.

Amanda Topper, Food Analyst at Mintel, captures this sentiment well, saying, “With growing distrust and a greater desire for transparency from food manufacturers, Millennials want brands to form genuine, authentic connection with them, and brands should recognize the impact Millennials have on their business.” Based on these composite factors and consumer shifts, food marketers must delve deeper into understanding their consumer targeting.

Are You Supplementing Your Traditional Media Targeting Strategy?

Who is your food brand really speaking to? And what is setting you apart from your competition? From a media targeting perspective, we no longer just target the “women gatekeepers.” Nor are we targeting just men, who are taking on the role of primary shopper and home cook in growing numbers. Keeping pace with the preferences of our customer is an endless pursuit. Not just in terms of demographic/geographic targeting, but also noting their interests, passions and current social values.

Today’s marketers need to go beyond legacy demographics, historical purchasing data and lifestyle research. One way they are doing this is turning to social trends and the latest influencers to glean intimate information about their new customer’s journey. For example, by monitoring the immediate dialog consumers are having on social media and posted reviews. These, and other vehicles, help us better understand how consumers are engaging with the food industry at large but, more specifically, with each product and brand. Is your relationship with your consumer strong? What are their preferences and motivations? Having this information helps you define what I call a “specialty target” consumer.

Target audience fragmentation has resulted in more defined audiences. When media strategists augment legacy demographics with consumer insights and social attitudes, they have the opportunity to unveil powerful consumer motivations. These nuances define your “specialty target.” And a media strategy driven and/or supplemented by a “specialty target” means it provides additional opportunities to tap into consumers’ interest and passion, thus maximize engagement and ROI for your food brand.

Diving into additional target research and analysis complements the broader narrative, affording media strategists the opportunity to implement a variety of tactics to motivate the target consumer in unique ways. With an integrated, cross-channel approach, brands go beyond the device and channel boundaries to stay with their customers along the journey to purchase.

Building a Target Audience of “Optimists” and an Integrated Media Strategy

One food brand forming a genuine, authentic connection is General Mills’ Cheerios and their One Million Acts of Goods campaign. Identifying a target audience of “optimist,” the brand partnered with the Ellen show, a celebrity known for her generosity, to be a catalyst for the media campaign.

Utilizing on-pack branding, in-store promotion, television, and fueling with an integrated social media strategy, their targeting approach tapped into their customer’s values and offered long-term goodwill identification. According to their Shorty Award’s submission, the integrated campaign was successful on several levels. Ellen’s TV show viewership was up +37% for the finale (vs. the average episode.) Cheerios experienced 2x the positive social sentiment translating to 6 million incremental boxes of Cheerios sold during the campaign. Not to mention the beneficiaries of the monetary donations and acts of kindness.

Accessing people’s passions and emotions, this targeting strategy formed an alliance between brand and product. They successfully elevated from simply selling Cheerios, to giving back to the consumer and the community at large.

Media Adoption is on Fast-Forward

The fact is, the media landscape will continue to evolve. Voice activated devices, distracted viewing and cross device digital usage, social media influencer marketing and AI are just a few areas we are closely following as food media strategists. As these advances in technology continue to alter the media and marketing landscape, media adoption is moving at a record pace. Consumers aren’t afraid to test new channels and quickly move on from them if they underperform or fail to meet expectations.

Bottomline, food brands who are fueling their media strategies with specialty targeting, then applying this focus to an integrated media strategy, are seeing results. These brands are standing out from competition by connecting with their audiences on a higher level and creating a valuable dialog that further informs and/or confirms their strategy.

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Lily Katz-Smolenske Sr VP/Media Director EvansHardy+Young
Lily Katz-Smolenske, Senior VP Media Director

Before leading the Media department at EvansHardy+Young for the past 17 years, Lily served as Senior Partner/Media Director at J. Walter Thompson/LA, Senior VP/Account Director at Western International Media and VP/Media Director at TBWA/Chiat Day and on the client side as Group Media Manager for Seagram’s. Lily is a committed Foodie and owns an extensive cookbook collection