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56pc of consumers digitally engage grocers while social media lags

While the rate of digital interaction between customers and grocery stores is high, only 25 percent of consumers follow or like their grocery store’s social media pages, according to a report from the Retail Feedback Group.

These numbers show that consumers are very comfortable with the idea of interacting with brands digitally, but fewer are willing to make longer term commitments that would extend beyond the moments when they actually need something from the brand. Grocery stores and other retailers will need to adjust their strategy to compensate for this development.

“Closing the social media gap presents a real opportunity as many shoppers will change their behavior based on recommendations from their social network,” said Brian Numainville, RFG Principal. “For example, our research shows that 45 percent of supermarket shoppers are very willing to make a new recipe or meal and 32 percent are very willing to purchase a new food item based on social network suggestions.”

Social media holdouts
Consumers are now more than ever using their mobile devices as a portable, omnipresent window into the digital world.

With mobile, consumers are always tapped into the digital world and have the capability of interacting with a brand at any time.

Many retailers have taken advantage of that with the introduction of mobile apps and social media channels to reach customers wherever they are.

While this is an obvious benefit for retailers, the proliferation of mobile apps and social media channels has buffeted consumers to the point where many are weary of how and how often they interact with brands over social media.

To delve into exactly what the rates of interaction on social media, specifically for grocery stores, RFG took a look at some of the numbers.

What it found was that while 87 percent of retail shoppers use social media, only a quarter like or follow their primary grocery store on any channel.

This is a missed opportunity for those stores, who should focus attention on trying to capture those users with a real potential benefit for following them, something that adds actual value to their shopping experience.

Changing landscape
While it is important for retailers to try and lure customers into their social media presences, it is also worth considering why the number is so low in the first place.

With the saturation of marketing and advertising that consumers interact with all day and every day, it is understandable that the consumer psyche has evolved to the point where customers want to always be in control of when they experience branded content and when they do not.

This is not always possible, such as when watching a required ad before viewing a YouTube video, but in the places where customers do have more control, such as what and who to follow on Twitter, brands are likely to be lower on the scale.

To get around this, retailers will have to be able to offer something that goes beyond simple, spam-like posts.

Compare two recent social campaigns – Pepsi (see story) and Thomas’ Bagels (see story).

The Pepsi campaign, while flashy, offers little to consumers in terms of actual value. The Thomas’ campaign on the other hand gives them something actionable and real in the form of recipes relating to a new product.

These approaches are emblematic of how retailers can tailor their social media presence to help encourage customers to engage more directly, knowing that they will actually get something out of it in return.

“Although in-store satisfaction ratings are higher than most of the online shopping satisfaction ratings at present, the gap is closing and we would expect in the future that these ratings will continue to strengthen as online food shopping services refine their offerings and continue to focus on the best possible experience for their customers,” said Doug Madenberg, RFG Principal.