Writing on the market researcher’s blog, ingredients analyst at Euromonitor International, Anais Mirval, says that ingredient suppliers tend to use social media as a direct selling tool to companies, rather than as a platform that could drive demand for their products.
“Ingredients manufacturers are involved in social media but appear to be missing the point,” she says. “Their communications are directed at businesses or employees when they should be focusing on educating end consumers and driving ingredient demand.”
Mirval points out that discussion of fast-moving consumer goods (fmcg) – which include food and beverages as well as cosmetics and personal care products – is a key topic on social media sites, but much of the discussion around ingredients tends to focus on their safety.
“As we all know, negative publicity has more impact and is more memorable than positive coverage,” she says. “Despite focusing on the bad aspects, the discussion phenomenon has shown broader consumer interest in the properties of ingredients. Thus, a more proactive attitude could actually benefit ingredients companies.”
She suggests that ingredient makers should identify sensitive ingredients and talk about them on social media before they come under scrutiny, and counteract negative feedback with positive comments.
“They should also seek to interact directly with end customers and build "personal" relationships with them,” she adds. “It is time to stop delegating communication and control to fmcg manufacturers.”
While Mirval highlights the use of social media as a B2C tool, other industry commentators have suggested that end product manufacturers could also improve their use of social media for B2B interaction.
Speaking at Snackex in Sweden last month, director of Focus Business Communications Adrian Moss said: “Through social networks, we can generate business. Maybe not direct sales, but though a friend of a friend…Even B2B people talk. Social media is not just a consumer brand tool – it’s a powerful B2B tool too.”