Brief #64: Does your marketing feel sales-y?

This content originally appeared on May 27, 2021 as part of the Future of Marketing weekly email series. Subscribe here.

Welcome to Future of Marketing.

Each week, we send you the most relevant trends, resources, and strategies in social and user-generated content (UGC) from leading marketers and brands around the globe. 

Today, we’re discussing…

  • The future of food and beverage marketing
  • Offline opportunities for brands (and less sales-y tactics)
  • #BrandCrush: Sunwink 💘

The future of food and beverage marketing

Brands that pivoted to social media, curbside, to-go, contactless payments, and home delivery reduced their risk of closing their doors over the last year. 

Now that some parts of the world are reopening, new questions are emerging. What is the future of marketing for food and beverage brands? Will certain trends remain? Have consumer behaviors changed for good? 

A study by Digital Commerce 360 revealed that thirty-one percent (31%) of American shoppers will likely continue to use grocery pickup or delivery post-pandemic. Food and beverage brands are also embracing in-app ordering, gamification, omnichannel tactics, and UGC. 

For example, Chipotle consistently blends UGC with branded content across their marketing channels – whether by launching giveaways, participating in trending memes, or re-sharing their audience’s content.

A TINT feed on Chipotle's landing page, displaying employee-generated content.

UGC turns the dining or takeout experience into an exciting, inclusive experience people want to share and be part of. It is also a way for brands to apply social listening, capture their audience’s feedback, and ensure brand efforts are making an impact.

Are people engaging with our campaigns? Are we generating sales? How can we engage customers during the ordering or drive-thru experience? What content does our audience respond to the most? What is their feedback? 

Regardless of your industry, people don’t want to feel like they’re being sold to – they want a positive experience worth telling others about. 

Offline opportunities for brands

How can brands create a customer journey that doesn’t feel sales-y?

The problem with “bad” marketing is that it comes across as self-promotional, disconnected, or dull. 

It really comes down to tone. I think a common belief is that businesses have to take on a really formal tone, but I don’t think that’s true,” shares Alyssa Rodriguez, Education Specialist and TikTok creator for the Oklahoma Aquarium.  

Additionally, when it comes to sharing testimonials (or UGC), brands shouldn’t stop at their website or social media… think offline, too. 

In select physical locations, Amazon has electronic shelf labels (ESLs) displaying real-time UGC in the form of average star ratings and review counts. This helps inform potential buyers of real customer’s experiences with their products.

A tweet by Jason Goldberg showing a 3.8 star Amazon Basic Toaster on their electronic shelf label

“Among the major national grocery retailers only the Ahold Delhaize banners, H-E-B, and Wegmans collect and display ratings and reviews,” shares Grocery Dive

“Walmart and Target have also been doing it for years, but they have pockets of weakness, notably perishable categories where little to no content exists. By not adapting to in-store content, grocers stand to lose out on private label sales and deepened shopper engagement.”

Social media, UGC, and now in-person experiences are creating opportunities for major brands to reposition themselves in the market, improve their experience, and make an impact. 

TIP: Blend community with brand voice and make your customer journey more intuitive and exciting. Re-share exciting testimonials across online and offline channels to increase conversions. Then, use UGC and online conversations to understand sentiment and seek feedback for your brand. 

Watch a more in-depth conversation in our most recent webinar with Hootsuite.

What we’re learning

#BrandCrush: Sunwink

Here’s a plot twist… Did you know carousels perform better than video?

Speaking of brands making an impact, we present to you: Sunwink – a wellness, food and beverage brand with a mission to connect people to the power of plants.

Sunwink recently shared a carousel featuring UGC – further engaging fans by asking, “Are you a ‘pour in a glass’ or ‘drink from the bottle’ kind of person? 🤔”

This not only invites people to comment on the image – but on their bio, Sunwink also guides fans to tag UGC with #Sunwink and #StickToPlants for a chance to be featured on their feed. 

UGC on Sunwink's Instagram's page – showing a glass of wine by a user

Something else we noticed Sunwink doing right is engaging their audience offline by including a small print booklet in their physical packaging. The booklet shares recipes created by rising culinary and wellness influencers, including Sunwink’s co-founders.  

Bonus points that 2% of all their revenues goes back to the community and planet. 💘