Building a brand and a trustworthy reputation involves more than just engineering innovative foods and then slapping an interesting label on the product. Thanks to the ubiquity of social media, branding in the 21st century includes the expectation of consumer connections. Three of the top food brands—General Mills, Kraft Foods and Nestle—have come to terms with the necessity of sharing their brand with consumers. Using every online resource available from Facebook to business blogs, these companies express the power of positive branding.
General Mills Goes Social
Hello, Cereal Lovers is an uber popular Facebook group with more than 600,000 followers. Yet most fans may not realize that this fandom for all things breakfast cereal is the brainchild of General Mills. And Facebook isn’t the only platform where GM has seen online success. The Hello, Cereal Lovers campaign includes a website, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram.
What is General Mills doing on all of these sites? Sharing viral images of bowls brimming with cereal, new food products, breakfast food quotes, DIY crafts, and recipes related to eating cereal for the morning meal. Fans love it. It helps that General Mills isn’t just focusing on advertising its own products. The social team will, from time to time, share recipes that use competitor cereals.
According to GM marketing director Carla Vernon, the brand agnostic approach means “Now that we’re in great conversations with the people that buy and enjoy our products…It’s important for us to be authentic and recognize what [consumers] want to share and hear about.”
Kraft Foods Gets a Read on Millennials
During the recession, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded that upwards of 40 percent of men in the Millennial demographic were cooking at home. Kraft Foods has taken note of such statistics— and taken a more direct approach toward this up and coming consumer demographic.
At this age, individuals are still experimenting with flavors and cooking methods. They are turned off from doing things traditionally or the same way as their parents.
According to supermarket industry expert Phil Lempert, Millennials “never want to wake up and have the same meal in an entire lifetime.” And the Chicago Tribune reports that Kraft’s newest product innovations and outreach targeted this age group. From pot pie kits to the Velveeta Cheesy Casserole to precooked pulled pork, Kraft is now creating products that are designed for this generation of home cooks—those who want to customize their meals without a great deal of hassle.
Kraft Foods is digging into the Millennial mind by going where they congregate—social media. By monitoring Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, Kraft marketers can determine what particular consumers need or want, in addition to the latest flavor and usage trends.
Nestle Builds Community
Nestle is taking a more globalized approach to building a brand online, building on a global community founded on principles that the brand shares with consumers. Just take a look at some of the latest projects and news events reported on the Nestle website:
- Nestlé Endorses Caring for Climate at UN Summit
- Tackling Child Labor in Cocoa Farming
- Nestlé Women in Leadership Meet Hillary Clinton
- Nestlé USA Looks for Diverse College Leaders
By throwing the brand’s support behind sustainability, ethicality, and gender equality efforts, Nestle is connecting with the consumer at the most basic level. For Millennials, this approach affords Nestle the opportunity to show they are more than just a brand name interested in making money. Nestle is putting forth the image that they are a community-building company whose interests are in making the world a better place.
Moving Past Product Development
These big food brands are showing consumers they are more than just industry leaders pushing out new food products. They are playing out the message of their core values with consumers. As a result, Millennials, who are less likely to be brand loyal, are finding out that they can trust these big names. And this kind of trust is essential. For the up and coming generation of grocery shoppers, it will take this kind of emotional connection to bind them to a brand.