Mintel reveals top five social media trends shaping the marketplace this quarter

March 18, 2014

Chicago (March 18, 2014)—In keeping with quarterly tradition, Mintel is pleased to offer up its latest social media trends update from social media analysts Gabi Lieberman and Lizz Martinez. They have once again singled out the top five trends in online consumer marketplace behavior this quarter, identified from high-level research into the strategies employed by Fortune 500 companies across the US.

1. Brands with low usage and awareness garner large numbers in online mentions thanks to their cult followings: “While more than half (56%) of Mintel survey respondents have not heard of or visited Wawa–due to its regional presence solely on the U.S.’ east coast–the convenience store has secured 46% in online SOV (Share of Voice), the second-highest among the competitive set. The convenience store has developed a cult following among Wawa lovers, drawing more than 1.1 million Facebook ‘likes’ and close to 30,000 Twitter followers. The store even beats out top competitor 7-Eleven in Instagram followers with close to 8,000 at the time of writing,” says Lizz.

“The brand popchips, which records the lowest levels of overall usage and awareness with 42% of adults surveyed unaware of the brand, records the highest levels of interaction among all reviewed household snack brands. They have the greatest Kred scores among the selected brands, with a Kred Influence score of 938 (out of 1,000) and a Kred Outreach score of eight (out of 12). This highlights how relevant popchips’ content is to its followers and how motivated people are to share this content with their own social media communities online,” notes Gabi.

2. People are taking to bloggers and online mediums to educate themselves on DIY and beauty and personal care“Blogs are an effective way for lawn and gardening enthusiasts to share their current projects as well as tutorials for newer landscapers to share information. Blogs such as Two Men and a Little Farm show readers the step-by-step process of creating weed blocks between raised plant beds. Selected retailers could benefit from partnering with these types of bloggers in order to gain more online visibility. In fact, Mintel data shows that 39% of adults believe social media is a good way to educate themselves on lawn care or gardening.

“Switching gears to the beauty and personal care segment, blogs such as Nailed Blog dominate online discussion for the selected nail color and care brands. Accounting for close to nine in ten online mentions (88%), blogs are a perfect place for nail color and care enthusiasts to share product and line launches, publish nail art tutorials, and review nail color and care products.  While only 11% of adults choose their nail colors based on what they see online, there is a higher concentration that do so among 25-34-year-olds, at 23%,” adds Lizz.

3. Social media interactions strong before purchase, supporting need for information-driven content“Despite recording among the lowest levels of usage and awareness among all back-to-school retailers, and Macy’s report the highest levels of social media interaction among all brands at 67% and 65%, respectively. Parents are most likely to interact with before purchasing back-to-school items from the retailer (39%). This speaks to people’s lack of familiarity with the online retailer in regards to back-to-school shopping purchases and the need to research product availability and pricing before making a purchase. To further support this, 33% of parents surveyed have interacted with on social media to compare it against other brands. The high levels of people interacting with to share a positive experience (25%) may be linked to people interacting with the brand’s review platform, with its review functionality often considered one of the original social networks and one of the cornerstones of the brand’s business.

“Macy’s reports similar patterns in interactions as, with people motivated to interact with the brand before buying it (32%) and to compare the retailer against other brands (27%). Macy’s is the brand reporting the highest levels of people interacting with the brand on social media to get freebies or special offers (20%), to share a positive experience (18%), and to express excitement/satisfaction (16%). This highlights the level of satisfaction among those who have shopped with the retailer, and the opportunity for the brand to better connect with these satisfied customers to help increase positive mentions and interest in the brand online,” comments Gabi.

4. Brands empowering fans to express their creativity“Taste stands out as a leading driver of discussion online and an important factor in determining consumer consumption. Lay’s ‘Do Us A Flavor’ social media campaign was built around the idea of tapping into each person’s unique taste identity, empowering people to creatively design their ultimate taste experience. Lay’s first introduced the campaign in the UK, which saw the creation of the flavors such as Cajun Squirrel, and then brought it to the US in 2013, which generated 3.8 million flavor submissions. The Mintel Inspire trend Collective Intelligence explores how offering consumers a chance to participate in the innovation process empowers them and makes them feel more connected to the brand.

“Target’s back-to-school online discussions are boosted by a dynamic marketing push aimed to make students feel like the retailer recognizes and has products that best appeal to their personal style. Target’s ‘virtual dorm room experience,’ which targets college students and was launched in 2013, bridges the virtual and the physical worlds to create experiences unique to each student, at a time when these young adults are really beginning to get a sense of how their personal style translates into more meaningful purchases,” says Gabi.

5. Employees, top executives moving front-and-center of brands’ social media strategy“Apple’s approach to social media has been one that chooses to rely on the customers to serve as the voice of the brand online. On Apple’s ‘Support’ page, people can share issues or offer advice within the support community, which is led by Apple users from around the world. While for so long the brand has been able to rely on the community to help drive awareness and maintain positive brand associations, the increasingly competitive landscape has shown that it may finally be time to embrace social media, with initial steps taken by its leader. CEO Tim Cook recently joined Twitter in September 2013 – something his predecessor Steve Jobs never did. The launch of Cook’s Twitter account coincided with the release of the iPhone 5, and is notable in that it marks the beginning of a new era in the company that for so long rejected the need for social media in its marketing efforts. Apple senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller also launched a Twitter account in 2013.

“Wells Fargo launched a social media trial program in the fall of 2012, permitting 50 of the brand’s more than 15,000 financial advisors to post content on LinkedIn and Twitter. Due to the success of the program–which is based in part on no major compliance issues–Wells Fargo announced that it plans to grant social media access to as many as 20% of its advisers, where they will be encouraged to grow their personal brand along with offering financial tips,” concludes Gabi.

Jennifer Clement
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