How Chefs and Social Media Can Drive Sales for Grocers

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How Chefs and Social Media Can Drive Sales for Grocers

By Jim Dudlicek - 12/27/2018
How Chefs and Social Media Can Drive Sales for Grocers
PG Editorial Director Jim Dudlicek helping to create recipes at the 2018 Pork Summit

I’m part of a dwindling minority. Or I’m crazy, or both.

Things like grocery shopping and cooking from scratch, those necessary evils that folks are increasingly leveraging technology to get out of doing -- I like those things.

But a lot of folks don’t. One of the big stories this past year was how Americans are spending more money on dining out than on buying groceries. So it’s up to grocery retailers to create an experience that allows them to capture those dollars, regardless of how they’re spent -- prepared foods consumed on site or at home, meal kits, or even ingredients for good old-fashioned cooking.

And there’s hope, because there’s evidence to suggest that more consumers will be returning to the kitchen in 2019.

But however they get there, culinary inspiration will be essential to getting folks excited about food. And there are plenty of resources that grocery retailers can tap to help their shoppers get there.

Earlier this year, I was honored to be a guest of the Des Moines, Iowa-based National Pork Board at its latest Pork Summit for two days of all things swine.

The highlight of my experience was being teamed up with chefs to help create pork-based recipe solutions that the board could share with consumers and retailers on its website and via social media. I was a glorified kitchen gofer (that's me in the photo above), but I found it exciting to fetch ingredients while watching culinary experts from the restaurant, institutional and corporate worlds work their creative magic.

How Chefs and Social Media Can Drive Sales for Grocers
Caraway pork sandwich with giardiniera created during the 2018 Pork Summit

It was clear the goal was to give retailers as well as consumers a helping hand in the kitchen. The teams were challenged to create dishes like simple family meals, ethnic entrees and sandwiches, with an eye toward how they could be adapted to a meal-kit format.

The results demonstrated new, creative and Instagram-worthy ways to drive sales not just for pork, but also for related ingredients and meal components, as well as to get folks excited about food and demonstrate how unique and delicious meals need not be elaborate or intimidating.

And with so many grocery purchases at least starting via a digital platform, the opportunity is ripe to inspire supermarket shoppers.

How Chefs and Social Media Can Drive Sales for Grocers
Participating chef shows off a dish at the 2018 Pork Summit

To that end, the National Pork Board is already using a “digital first” strategy to focus on engaging customers online through the social and digital media platforms they use as they become less reliant on traditional media. To help formulate that strategy, the board turned to Google and its platforms.

“Google helped us understand how to be effective in our outreach efforts,” said Brittany Bailey, the board’s director of market insights. “The average person checks their smartphone 150 times a day, and Google data indicates that nearly one-third of all food and beverage sales are influenced in the digital space. Consumers are there, and are looking for information. We have to meet them where they are and be relevant.”

The board launched a YouTube influencer campaign last September for Family Meals Month, but culinary-driven solutions have the power to inspire consumers via social media all year long.

Grocery retailers should be working closely with industry groups like the National Pork Board to get ideas for their prepared food offerings and meal solutions that they can share with consumers.

Whether the goal is convenience, wellness or the latest flavor trends, collaborating with trade groups and suppliers can help grocers up their game, from the hot case to the home kitchen.

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