How are you reaching out to foodies? If you said via social media, you're on the right track for success. But which social media platforms are you using? Pinterest? Yelp? Instagram? Those are all great for food marketing, but the evidence to date indicates that they aren't necessarily the best. It turns out the consumers prefer watching and sharing YouTube videos over scrolling through static images on other social media platforms.
A 2014 study by Google found that views of food content and recipe videos on YouTube rose 59% over the prior twelve months. Additionally, consumer engagement— defined as likes, shares and comments— with food-related videos increased by 118 percent. But who are the people driving those metrics?
Catering to the Millennial foodie.
Google found that almost half of all adults watch food vids on YouTube. But Millennials— adults aged 18-35— are far and away the largest contributors to those views. Moreover, they're loyal viewers. That's a bit surprising for an age demographic that isn't known for exhibiting a high degree of brand loyalty. Nevertheless, Google found that Millennials have driven a 280 percent increase in YouTube food channel subscriptions for the past several years.
Don't believe it? Just ask celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.
From 2010 to 2012, his YouTube channel served only as a host server for videos that his PR team embedded on his website. Views and subscriptions to his YouTube channel were completely flat. Then, in 2012, Oliver began approaching his YouTube channel as an engagement venture separate from his website. He rebranded his YouTube channel as "Food Tube" and began producing content, geared toward Millennial viewership, more regularly. And suddenly, things took off.
Subscriptions skyrocketed. Views went viral. By the beginning of 2014, Oliver's Food Tube channel had over 600,000 subscribers and was averaging 1.8 million views per month.
Why do Millennials engage with YouTube food content?
Millennials consult YouTube for a variety of reasons. Google found four distinct groups among the age demographic:
- childless men
- childless women
By tailoring its content toward one group or another, your food company could achieve a significant, drilled-down marketing focus.
Google found that Millennial moms, for example, tend to be adventurous kitchen tinkerers. They are always on the lookout for new and exciting recipes to try to make for their families. They like to learn new cooking techniques that they can experiment with on their own. Many watch food videos while cooking, in order to learn experientially. And more than two-thirds of them purchase food products that they first learn about on YouTube.
Childless Millennial women, on the other hand, aren't looking to feed a family and they tend not to view themselves as good cooks. Only one in four single Millennial women believes herself to be a kitchen expert. They, too, watch YouTube videos to learn, but they also tend to view videos as a source of inspiration when they cook for social occasions, like dinner parties or pot-lucks.
Believe it or not, childless Millennial men are more than twice as likely to view themselves as confident cooks than childless Millennial women. They prefer to watch YouTube cooking videos that entertain, as well as inform. They're less likely to engage with a strictly informational video, though, so companies looking to engage them need to engage in a bit of creative storyboarding and inject plenty of comedy into the scripting.
And with many Millennial families equally sharing historically gender-based roles like cooking, Millennial dads have become one of the most engaged segments for YouTube food content. Like Millennial moms, Google found, these dads tend to look for meal inspiration online, but they are more interested in learning general cooking techniques than they are in learning how to make specific recipes. So, for a Millennial dad, a video about using curry in various ways would be more appealing than a video that just shows how to make curried chicken.
American food culture has been kicked into overdrive with the advent of food-based Internet content.
Food companies and restaurants that want to reach out to Millennials, who already projected to surpass Baby Boomers purchasing power in the next five years, would do well to produce and curate food-based online content. YouTube may be one of the most effective channels for hitting your target demographic— more so than Pinterest, Twitter, or Facebook— because it gives viewers the opportunity to follow along and learn processes, in addition to providing appetizing food visuals.