SANTA CLARA, CALIF. — Skittles, Red Bull and Pringles are among the top brands discussed, shared and liked on-line, according to a new report from social analytics firm NetBase. In its “Social Media Industry Report 2016: Food and Beverage Brands” study, NetBase ranked 72 of the most beloved brands in the categories of beverages, dairy, snacks candy and cereal, based on more than 84 million mentions across social networks, review sites, blogs and forums between June 22, 2015, and June 21, 2016.
Using patented technology, NetBase measured consumer emotions, behaviors and usage toward industry and represented brands by analyzing volume of mentions, reach and awareness, as well as how strongly consumers feel about a brand or company and the overall direction of how consumers feel about a brand’s marketing, customer service and products.
“Looking at consumer conversations related to your category or aisle can reveal meaningful insight into the priorities of your customers and the tone they use, providing guidelines for the brand to break through the social noise and catch their eye through other marketing channels,” said Paige Leidig, chief marketing officer at NetBase. “It’s not enough to know about the reach of your brand — brands need a 360-degree view of the emotions around your brand, competitors and industry to reach consumers with the authenticity they demand.”
Beverage brands are dominating on-line discussion, with Red Bull, Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Mountain Dew ranking among the top 10 brands in the report. Much of the conversation captured in the report reflected concerns about sugar regulation in the soda industry.
“Unsurprisingly, the Northeast had the highest volume of ‘soda tax’ conversation,” the report’s authors noted. “Most notably was the Philadelphia metropolitan area, which has been the subject of recent attention due to controversial sugar regulation.”
Such brands as Snapple, Vita Coco, San Pellegrino and Nestea rated high in terms of brand passion, suggesting heightened interest in low-sugar beverages perceived as more natural or healthier than traditional soft drinks.
Dairy chatter during the measured period revealed consumer demand for transparency, with Stonyfield Farm generating the most conversations around natural and organic milk. The most discussed dairy brands overall were Häagen-Dazs and Silk; however, the latter brand was frequently associated with the use of bioengineered ingredients.
“Social media users share their ‘alarm’ on non-G.M.O. soy milk, speculating on potential contamination,” the report said. “Unsurprisingly, the brand’s association with G.M.O. organisms generates negative attention. Fear-mongering and lack of knowledge is a universal problem and not one limited to the dairy world; brands can disabuse their consumers’ fears by bringing greater transparency to their products’ origins.”
Posts and tweets related to snacks, such as Pringles, Doritos and Cheetos, were more likely to contain humor. As an example, one tweet highlighted in the report exclaims: “Some idiot put their water bottle in the Pringles tube holder on the treadmill??!!”
“While other food categories are driven by ingredient speculation or a disdain for empty calories, snack consumers turned to social to talk about their favorite foods with levity and gusto,” the report said.
In the candy category, Skittles tops the list, driven by recent buzz surrounding a controversial television ad that was pulled from the air but continued to circulate on-line. M&M’s, another brand of Mars, Inc., conversely, was associated with negative conversation, particularly on the platform Tumblr, where users described the brand’s commercials as “creepy.”
As for cereal, General Mills’ Cinnamon Toast Crunch leads the ranking; however its Cheerios brand generated the highest volume of mentions, particularly as part of the conversation surrounding bioengineered ingredients. Nature’s Path Foods was found to have a high net sentiment and passion intensity, indicating consumers are “enthusiastically positive” about the brand’s ingredients and label transparency. The Kellogg Co.’s Kashi brand did not fare well in the conversation about bioengineered ingredients; the report uncovered inflammatory comments linked to the brand.“The bottom line is this; brands cannot appease everyone, but they can steer the conversation,” the report said. “Limited consumer information provides an opportunity for growth and thought leadership; consider involving nutritionists to help quell consumer fear and disabuse fear mongering from causing further damage.”