A Rising Imperative for Social in the Beverage Industry

Beverage businesses, traditionally operating solely on consumers’ shifting tastes and preferences, now face a rising need to proactively listen, understand, and cater to opinions and interests on social media. There’s an entire internet out there of unsolicited, incredibly insightful, raw opinions and commentary.

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Beverage businesses, traditionally operating solely on consumers’ shifting tastes and preferences, now face a rising need to proactively listen, understand, and cater to opinions and interests on social media. There’s an entire internet out there of unsolicited, incredibly insightful, raw opinions and commentary.

Some praise, some complaining dissent, all real.

Strategic and consistent social listening and social data insights gleaned from such monitoring provide brands with the significant opportunity to maintain an awareness of their audiences and the greater consumer landscape. It also gives businesses in the beverage industry and beyond, the ability to build strong relationships with their consumers, industry and celebrity influencers, and online communities.

Brands in the beverage industry must be better equipped to keep up with their consumers’ underlying, often unspoken, motives or interests by analyzing conversations surrounding any given trend, brand, or product. Using social media listening and analytics to understand how, on which platforms, and at what time to engage customers is critical to understanding a brand’s audience. This type of social intelligence is the key to any successful campaign and helpful for strategic planning.

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At Brandwatch, we recently published a report examining the online activity of leading beverage brands (along with food and restaurant brands) evaluating the online performance of industry leaders and identifying key strategies to leverage the power of social media. We used our Brandwatch social media analytics platform to monitor and analyze over 1 million conversations around 50 of the top restaurant, food and beverage brands, as well as more detailed discussions regarding specific types of alcohol consumption. The insights this report unearthed by mining social data (detailed below) are prime examples of how social data can provide beverage brands with a competitive advantage and accurate pulse on consumer preference.

United States of Beverage

Organic social data through deep social listening provides unique opportunities to research, understand, and appropriately adjust product innovation, marketing strategy, and even overall business goals and processes to what public opinion demands. Social data revealed that in the United States, liquor (49 percent) dominated more conversation than beer (36 percent) or wine (15 percent) in the three month timeframe of data we analyzed. Businesses looking to identify new markets can use such analyses to understand how interest in certain topics, products or brands is divided geographically. For example, by comparing each state’s deviation against the national average, Brandwatch unveiled that while Illinois (18 percent) and Vermont (15 percent) are more likely to discuss beer, Colorado (21 percent) is more likely to discuss liquor. More specifically, within Colorado, whiskey comprises 28 percent of liquor chatter.

Interestingly, conversation around wine is fairly evenly distributed throughout the US, never deviating more than six percent above or eight percent below the national average. Acknowledging that interest for certain topics is divided geographically, businesses can begin to infer the market landscape and potential opportunities within certain regions that will ensure success in those markets.

The Thirstiest Time of the Year

For many brands and products, consumer interest may be affected by seasonality. Our food and beverage report indicates that Starbucks’ annual Frappuccino Happy Hour is a great example of how a well-timed campaign can capitalize on consumer motives. By offering half-priced Frappuccinos in May, Starbucks’ campaign successfully brands Frappuccinos as a summer beverage by generating significant buzz around #FrappuccinoHappyHour at the start of the summer season.

As illustrated in the figure below, the Starbucks’ Frappuccino Happy Hour campaign generated a serious spike in conversation in early summer months as social mentions skewed high in April and remained consistent throughout the month of June. Starbucks does a fantastic job of branding its product and capturing a considerable portion of the seasonal market by recognizing seasonal behavior, which can easily be done by utilizing social intelligence.

 

Wine o’clock?

Similar to seasonality, beverage brands can utilize social analytics to pinpoint when conversations are taking place and to identify strategic times to enter social conversations to leverage existing trends. We took a look at days of the week and times of day in social media beverage discussions and found alcohol conversation cycles peak on Saturdays and dip down on Wednesdays, deviating towards liquor on Tuesday through Thursday, slightly favoring wine on Friday and strongly favoring beer on Saturday and Sunday. Unsurprisingly, booze chatter picks up throughout the day, peaking at around 8:00 p.m. MDT. Conversation is at its lowest when most of America is asleep, around 4:00 a.m. MDT. Beverage brands can insert themselves in relevant conversations by understanding, through social analytics, when and what their target audience is talking about at a certain point in time.

Raising a Glass to Social Data

Beverage brands operate in a competitive and turbulent environment. Having a keen awareness of consumers’ shifting tastes is paramount to maintaining the social favor that greatly influences a company’s success, as illustrated above. Social media offers an immediate wealth of insight into the conversations and opinions that define the consumer preference. Using social media listening and analytics to understand when, where, and how to engage customers, and prospective customers, is essential to understanding a brand’s audience, product evangelists, and influencers. This type of social intelligence is the key to successful marketing and an invaluable source of data to gain insight into a brand’s key audience – its customers.

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