Cooking sauces is a category in distress. According to the latest Grocer report, sales for many brands are falling. Brands it seems are in decline caught between cheaper, discounted own-label rivals on one side and chilled ready meals on the other. In such a competitive market, is there scope for brands to make better use of social media? And is there a business case for this? We’ve had a look at some of the brands on social and the potential it offers for the category.
Cooking sauces: who’s on social media?
Cooking sauces is a crowded category with huge product choice spanning cuisines, flavours and price points. We’ve picked six leading brands to see if they’re using social media as part of their marketing. The brands are Dolmio, Homepride, Loyd Grossman, Napolina, Patak’s and Sacla. It combines brands in growth and decline, with slightly different ranges and products at various price points. The table below shows their current social media followings.
As the table above shows investment in social media is a mixed bag. Few brands are investing across the core social networks with several focused on one channel whether that’s Facebook or Twitter. On the flipside the table also shows that for brands who are prepared to invest in social media then it’s possible to develop an audience.
Moving beyond customer service
Engagement on social is uniformly low, irrespective of audience. Part of the problem is that the channels seem to be largely reactive or inconsistently supported.
Dolmio whose admission that consumers should limit consumption due to sugar and salt levels is doing little to change the brand story or keep consumers abreast of moves to address concerns. The Loyd Grossman Twitter account is even worse – casual visitors see the following:
This feed is hardly a testament to a quality product. Yet over 13,000 people follow the brand so it clearly has fans. So why isn’t it harnessing this channel more proactively? The brand is growing due to its development of a new pouches range. Yet it’s not communicating this to existing fans. This would have been a perfect channel for creating a buzz, driving sampling and getting valuable customer feedback.
Building brand affinity
Social is a channel where engagement helps drive brand loyalty and advocacy. Food drives huge engagement on social. The adage that we eat with our eyes is especially true on social where great images create standout.
Napolina has an extensive product range spanning sauces and ingredients. This gives it appeal to both foodies and convenience hunters. And social would let it drive it’s brand’s values and appeal through food-led posts.
There’s huge potential to inspire and excite consumers with recipe ideas, hints and tips. Yet social is being massively underused. Patak’s is the one brand who seem to use the channel for brand building with interesting content. Engagement isn’t massive but it’s way ahead of most brands in the category.
Consumers are still spending huge amounts of time on social. This means that when brands get a consumers attention they own a share of that consumer’s daily media consumption. It also puts your brand in the consumer’s mind. In a price-driven market, ‘brand’ still has a role and creating that connection is vital. It’s that emotional connection that has always defined brands. In a retail market dominated by price, this is more important than ever.
Cooking sauces & social media: a missed opportunity
The category is definitely missing an opportunity to build brand equity. In a competitive market, budgets for big ATL campaigns are tough to justify. Social, when properly harnessed adds to these campaigns, amplifying the brand’s core messages and getting consumers to talk excitedly about a brand.
Equally, in a competitive market it’s vital to standout from the crowd. Creating standout means creating compelling brand stories and content for social audiences. Yet most brands have only scratched the surface of social media marketing.
It’s not just about building their owned channels though. There’s a huge audience of consumers on social who brands could be targeting through social media advertising. At the moment, cooking sauce brands haven’t found the recipe for social media success.