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Why Native Foods Has Mad (Social Media) Skills

In a recent post, I discussed why social media is important for restaurants.  I mentioned companies — like Taco Bell and Red Lobster — that realize the marketing potential of social media and how they’re using it to their advantage.

The other day I came across this Facebook post from Native Foods Cafe — yet another example of a restaurant putting social media to good use.

Caption reads: “CONTEST!! Our talented Chef Alex created a delicious concoction of mushrooms, Native chicken, roasted red peppers and herbs and spices wrapped in vibrant collard greens. We are asking our friends to help us name this dish, the winner will receive a $25 Native Foods gift card, contest ends Saturday at noon. Happy naming!”

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There are so many things I love about this.  In no particular order, here’s what I think really works…

  • Describing their customers as ‘friends’ — creates an intimacy and feeling of community rather than the detached feeling of marketing to the masses
  • Making it about the consumer and not Native Foods — fans get to demonstrate their creativity and feel like their opinion really matters
  • Asking their brand enthusiasts to name the product for them – freeing up Native Foods’ internal resources/marketing team and probably their budget too
  • Seizing an opportunity to offer a product  in the language of their consumer — many companies don’t ask, try to brainstorm internally and guess the vernacular of their market (unfortunately, quite often, corporate category-speak doesn’t feel authentic to the consumer and does an inferior job of telling them what the product actually is)
  • Showcasing a new item in an interactive forum and building interest in it (which supports likelihood to try it)
  • Keeping customers engaged and thinking about the Native Foods brand — staying relevant, in a sea of choices, is an ongoing challenge for most marketers
  • Offering fans an incentive that is highly desirable and relevant to them (restaurant gift card) – and that gets customers into their store, trying their products…with very little cost to Native Foods

There are probably more benefits (feel free to post them below in the comments section) but these are the ones that stood out to me.  I will continue to keep an eye out for you restaurant marketers out there.  Stay tuned for more helpful insights and trend scouting from your friends at Erickson Research.

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Social Media For Restaurants — Why It Matters

food pic collageAccording to the most recent Erickson Research Food and Beverage Trends Report, 37% of U.S. consumers use social media for restaurant ideas and cooking inspiration.

Among them…

  • Facebook and Pinterest were used most over the past 3 months (58% and 41%, respectively)
  • 29% said they’ve used social media to share restaurants they’ve tried
  • 34% said they’ve used social media to find new restaurants to try

These figures confirm what food marketers have long suspected – social media matters when it comes to food. 
Read more →

Building an Authentic Relationship With Customers (Way to Go, Walgreens)

Walgreens is making a bold move with their “Steps with Balance Rewards” initiative.  Especially, since many other organizations — namely, employers and insurance companies — have struggled to implement programs that promote good health.

Historically, there have been privacy concerns.  Understandably, consumers want to protect personal or more sensitive information about their health.  In addition, many fear that revealing their health practices will come back to haunt them (e.g., imposed, undesirable insurance-related changes).

However, could a wellness program be successful if positioned by a less intimidating source — your friendly drug store “at the corner of happy and healthy”?

Full disclosure — I used to frequent a Walgreens’ competitor. But when I received this email from Walgreens and looked at the Balance Rewards program (earn points toward in-store purchases for every “healthy move”), I was more than intrigued.  I was totally game.

Walgreens Balance Rewards Email

The thing is, I love tracking my steps.  Ever since I got my Fitbit,  I’ve been hooked.  So when I saw I could add my device to earn points –and since I was already trying to hit 10,000 steps a day – it was an easy add-on.

What Walgreens is doing for their customers and community reminds me of a recent talk I heard at the Marketing to Women conference in Chicago, this past April. Bob Garfield and Doug Levy spoke about the importance of customer connections to drive results (also the subject of their book, Can’t Buy Me Like).

Specifically, they cited the evolution of marketing  which is no longer a product era or even a customer era, but rather a relationship era.  So companies need to evolve and understand that customers want them to truly care about something bigger than the product they sell.  They want them to demonstrate beliefs and values similar to their own.  

Those are the companies that are successful today (and many of them aren’t spending tons on advertising either).  And they’re walking the walk, so to speak.  Because in this age of social media, if a company fakes it, they’ll surely get ‘called out’ to the masses– on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.

Unlike their competition, where with every receipt you have an endless stream of coupons attached (that requires saving and remembering to bring for your next purchase), Walgreens has developed a program that is easy for customers to implement and keeps their brand top-of mind when they see their points adding up, daily.

They have really put together a program that connects with their customers — making wellness a priority and rewarding them for healthy behaviors.

So, learning from Garfield/Levy and Walgreens, what are you doing to create long-term relationships with your customers that are genuine and fit with their beliefs and values?



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