Graciana Méndez
Graciana is a Senior Regional Consumer Insights Analyst for Latin America at Mintel. She is responsible for developing research plans, analyzing consumer and market data, writing research reports on how consumer trends are evolving in the region and presenting insights to clients.

Social media brings connection, but can also overwhelm. Improve online conversations and be the reason consumers tune in, instead of wanting to disconnect. It will be important to not only help consumers to unplug briefly or to manage their relationship with tech, but also to redesign tech itself so that it can aid wellbeing.

Connect with consumers by co-creating products

One of the most exciting and powerful ways Colombian brands could look to connect with consumers is by using social media’s potential to co-create. Crowdsourcing can be a good consumer engagement model, especially for small brands that don’t have a lot of budget and want to highlight a personal connection. For example, Argentina cereal brand Integra was launched by a nutritionist and blogger who co-creates products from ingredients to naming and packaging, with her social media followers.

Beauty brands are particularly well-positioned to take advantage of this approach through their social channels, not least because self-expression is such a key part of the beauty product experience. Brazilian brand Colorama co-created a nail polish collection with its Instagram followers from beginning to end by sharing ideas and voting on the brand’s queries.

From community to commerce

There is no denying that social media is known for its visual capabilities, making it a great window for brands to show off and sell their products. Shoppable posts and videos can make it easier for people to not only research a product but also buy it, all in one place. For CPG brands in Colombia, there is significant untapped potential in social commerce as many are still simply using social networks to promote external e-commerce platforms and apps. Going forward, consumers will expect brands to offer a more seamless purchasing journey on social and brands need to leverage the enhanced shoppable features of social media (eg posts, livestreams), if they are to connect with consumers.

Creating a circle of trust

Brands also need to work with the fact that a high number of Colombians still want to get recommendations from people they know. Something similar to what Chinese company Pinduoduo has just done could be a solution to making this happen on social. Pinduoduo is an e-commerce platform that brings social components into the online shopping experience. It recently introduced a new feature called ‘circle of trust’ that allows consumers to share products they’ve bought and their comments with the trusted people they have added to their group. By creating a circle of trust functionality, brands and retailers can position themselves as trusted communities that bring validated information, reviews and recommendations, while also creating a safe and reassuring shopping experience on the platform and potentially converting more consumers into online shoppers.

Consumers are conflicted

Colombians also feel conflicted by the attention devoted to their digital personas vs their physical lives. While almost all Colombians had accessed social media in July 2020, three in five said that they were actively seeking ways to disconnect from their smartphone throughout the day. It is important to not only help consumers to unplug briefly or to manage their relationship with tech, but also to reinvent tech itself so that it can aid wellbeing.

CPG companies can foster screen-free experiences that place their products front and center. For example, food and drink brands can promote the importance of staying hydrated, taking lunch and coffee breaks away from screens, and BPC can encourage people to keep their bodies, hands and lips moisturized throughout their working day. Household brands can remind people to keep their working space clean and tidy as a way to connect with their physical surroundings and rest the mind.

Audio is the next social media player

With so much visual stimuli and digital fatigue, it’s not surprising that audio content is gaining traction. Audio can feel more intimate, spontaneous and ‘live’ than other forms of social. ClubHouse, an audio app that lets people gather in chatrooms to discuss different topics, passed 10 million global downloads in February 2020 and it is really resonating with Colombians. Companies in the region are now starting to use it, with the likes of Brazilian olive oil brand Andorinha promoting a conversation about healthy eating and Nescau hosting discussions about the transformative power of sports.

What we think

Social media is making consumers feel both connected and disconnected from the people they care about and the values they stand for. It is also the platform of choice for people to voice their opinions and defend their rights. Brands can use this in their favor by positioning themselves as integral to creating powerful communities and letting consumers have a say in products.