The Future of Social Selling and Storytelling in Pet Food
Author: Sunny Moon
People are spending more time than ever on their smartphones. And they are also doing more than ever on their smartphones. With the whole world experiencing the pandemic, the majority of people worldwide have been using their smartphones more and the uses that smartphones were put to was also further increasing. Browsing the internet for information, chatting with friends, searching for products and shopping via e-commerce – people are able to do almost anything on their smartphones, providing valuable assistance and guidance in so many areas of consumers’ lives.
According to Euromonitor International, there have been rapidly increasing rates of smartphone ownership in the world, reaching 80% in 2021, up from less than 17% in 2010. Such a high possession rate has been heavily influencing consumers’ new shopping patterns, which have been consistently moving over to mobile – with this process significantly speeding up during the pandemic. As a result, online shopping platforms that were developed for the PC quickly shifted to be able to function via mobile phones, and new commercial platforms gradually began to develop on social media. This has seen the birth of social commerce and the start of the popularity of social selling.
Social commerce has the advantage of being a win-win for both consumers and sellers, through maximising the promotional effect by using social media. For effective social selling, storytelling is crucial. When shoppers spend time browsing social media platforms, they are drawn to informative or interesting stories, which can ultimately lead them to make purchasing decisions based on this. Consumers are becoming more and more accustomed to this shopping pattern, so manufacturers are considering not only which social commerce sites are suitable for selling their products or services, but also how to attract users of selected social media platforms with engaging stories.
According to Euromonitor International’s Digital Consumer Survey, “my social media network”, “brand/company social media accounts” and “blogger/influencer” accounted for around 40% of responses as providing trusted information and sources for their shopping in 2021. In addition, the most selected responses, “friends and family recommendations” and “independent consumer reviews”, are also increasingly shared through social media. Manufacturers are looking into a wide variety of stories around their brands that can connect with customers, and are heavily investing in social media platforms to develop these stories as a channel that they trust and that can have a significant impact on consumers’ purchasing decisions.
It is interesting that pet owners are relying more on social media for trusted information and sources when they shop. Based on consumers’ behaviour, the pet care industry has tended to develop the e-commerce channel faster than other fmcg industries, and has interaction with consumers via social media.
Source: Euromonitor International Voice of the Consumer: Digital Consumer Survey, fielded March to April 2021
For example, Just Kitchen in Taiwan communicates via Twitter and Facebook about how much pets want to eat freshly cooked food, encouraging pet owners to place a food order via e-commerce. In addition, the company launched freshly cooked pet food delivery as recently as June 2021.
Meanwhile, storytelling targeted towards pet owners is typically centred around warm and touching or interesting animal stories. Dreamies (Mars Inc), which has the third largest value share globally in cat treats and mixers, released an advertisement through YouTube in 2017, which has remained a legend in the advertising industry, and has recorded more than a billion views to date. This story, shot by the representative social media channel, was more than enough to deliver the key message, which is the importance of incorporating treats into a pet’s diet, through an advertisement that reaches consumers in an impactful way. It positively benefited the brand’s actual value sales in the UK.
The role of social media has been expanded as it has the advantage of sharing brand stories with consumers and targeting shoppers who have more potential to purchase, depending on the product range. Gathering information around conversations and messages from consumers through social media platforms can help companies understand audiences better and target them more effectively with their products, and this is a key part of marketing strategies. These changes are expected to be a key factor in the future of social commerce and the development of storytelling.