Digital Brand Activation in Snacks: Leveraging the Influencing Power of Consumers through “Hometainment”
The dramatic rise of e-commerce comes with new challenges in the snacking industry. Fewer impulse purchases and strong online competition are forcing snack brands to reconsider their typical avenues of consumer interaction and find new ways to establish consumer loyalty. To overcome these challenges, snack manufacturers should focus on digital brand activation campaigns, harnessing the influencing power of Generation Z consumers.
“Hometainment” creates new opportunities for digital engagement with Gen Z consumers
In 2020, the temporary closure of the foodservice sector and the general stay-at-home orders resulting from the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic led to an extraordinary increase in e-commerce. According to Euromonitor International, in France, Germany and the United Kingdom, the largest markets for packaged food in Western Europe, online sales of packaged food rose by 33%, 40% and 74% respectively in 2020 and are forecast to continue increasing strongly, as countries start to arrive at a post-pandemic definition of normal.
Alongside the rise of e-commerce, home seclusion has led to a boost in social media use. As consumers were forced to stay at home with less opportunities to socialise in person, they increased their social media activity as a way to escape and entertain themselves. Indicatively, in France, Germany and the United Kingdom, the total number of active monthly users increased in all the leading social media sites, with the number of TikTok users recording the highest growth of 33% compared to 2019.
This increase brought numerous successful digital brand activation campaigns among snack manufacturers. The novelty, however, is that these campaigns were highly initiated by consumers themselves as part of their “hometainment” activities, and supported by companies later. In the UK, France and Germany, for example, Kellogg’s noticed that social media users were posting videos of themselves playing with the Pringles chips and packaging tube. Capitalising on the user-generated entries, the company encouraged more consumers to post their own videos by introducing the #PlayWithPringles campaign and launching the Pringles 3D filter on TikTok, Snapchat, Zoom and Skype.
The success of such campaigns has been heavily attributed to consumers’ need to have fun at home and socialise digitally. But at the same time, it has revealed that digital brand engagement is actively sought out by Gen Z consumers who use social media in order to cultivate their personal brand online and manage the way they are perceived by others. As confirmed by Euromonitor’s Voice of the Consumer: Lifestyle Survey personal brand creation and management is gaining particular importance among French, German and British Gen Z respondents.
Digital brand activation turns Gen Zs’ influencing power into brand loyalty and cross-generation awareness
The interaction between companies and Gen Z consumers through social media creates benefits that last beyond the duration of a marketing campaign. According to Euromonitor’s Voice of the Consumer: Digital Consumer Survey this engagement increasingly contributes towards brand loyalty.
At the same time, it creates a digital word-of-mouth, which influences the purchasing decision of other consumers. As the results of the Voice of the Consumer: Lifestyle Survey show, in France, Germany and the United Kingdom, when selecting a product, brand or service, consumers tend to trust friends and family more than companies, celebrities and influencers.
This highlights the strong influencing power that consumers can have across all generations, especially when they are connected on social media, and turns marketing campaigns into sales success stories. A valid illustration of this is the example of Little Moons, the ice cream mochi brand in the UK, which went viral among TikTokers sharing creative videos of themselves while experimenting with the product flavours. This campaign was driven by consumers and generated a strong increase in brand awareness, which translated into sales growth.
Habits that consumers were forced to adopt in 2020 because of home seclusion are expected to be retained to a certain extent. As Euromonitor’s Voice of the Industry Survey reveals, 52% of professionals in the food and beverages industry expect a mid-term to permanent shift of social activities to virtual platforms, rather than in-person. In a world that is increasingly digital and less personal, snack manufacturers have a clear opportunity to establish a strong relationship with the digitally-native Generation Z, by actively engaging with them through social media in a creative, entertaining and spontaneous way. By leveraging the influencing power of Gen Z consumers, companies can overcome the challenges that the online channel creates, establish brand loyalty and strengthen their market presence and performance.
This opportunity is not limited to packaged food but arises at a pan-industry level for fmcg companies that are challenged by the evolving nature of consumer interaction thrust upon them by the unprecedented rise of e-commerce.