In the past, food and beverage brands have attempted to humanize themselves through characters and mascots. Aunt Jemima wanted to comfort us with a pancake breakfast. The Jolly Green Giant wanted to show us how big and strong we become when we eat our (frozen) vegetables. The Keebler Elf wanted to inspire a sweet reward for hard work.
These characters are still around, but when it comes to a food experience, customers crave more than just brand mascots. Nowadays, consumers are looking for authenticity from the food and beverage brands they choose—and today, that’s the user-generated content (UGC) created by real customers like them.
The food we eat and the beverages we drink aren’t just sustenance—they’re content. With the prevalence of social sharing, people are inherently inclined to share their food and drinks with their networks—especially if their meal experience is positive (and aesthetically pleasing). In fact, according to a recent study, 76 percent of people say they would post on social media after a positive food or beverage experience.
Here are five ways food and beverage brands are using UGC to take their marketing strategies to the next level.
Starbucks first began designing holiday-themed cups back in 1997 as an easily identifiable and inviting marketing ploy. Even before the ubiquitous nature of smartphones and social media, Starbucks knew that a warm holiday-flavored latte deserved its own photogenic sipping experience. The coffee giant’s famous holiday #RedCup campaign has continued to live on and every year the cups take on a new design.
In 2015, Starbucks looked to give their customers the spotlight by encouraging them to post pictures of themselves with the iconic red cups. In King’s Cross Station in London, Starbucks built a giant, gingerbread-scented tree of cups that gradually lit up as consumers tweeted photos and messages with #RedCups.
Take a note from Starbucks here: run a competition, and then make it multi-sensory! Customers who can see, smell, and taste are more likely to crave a ‘Bucks coffee—and then post a picture of it.
Gordon Ramsay Restaurants Maps
Gordon Ramsay, best known for his tough love on “Hell’s Kitchen,” owns a network of successful restaurants across the globe. He looks to Stackla to showcase the wide variety of delicious foods he serves via content created by customers and employees.
Simply by clicking on a hotspot on the live map, customers can get an inside look into what a meal at their selected restaurant will look like. When 39 percent of people say they’ve decided to eat at a restaurant because of a friend’s social post, it’s essential to feature this visual social proof front and center. In Gordon Ramsay’s case, that means placing these interactive food photos on the homepage of their website.
Monopoly at McDonald’s
McDonald’s Monopoly campaign is one of the most memorable marketing efforts from any food brand—even consumers who didn’t participate in the game know of it. McDonald’s encouraged customers via promotions across their various marketing channels, including the packaging, to post their #MonopolyatMaccas photos.
To ensure they were getting the most out of all this authentic customer-created content, McDonald’s Australia looked to Stackla to repurpose those photos on their website and throughout their campaign advertising.
With these “instant wins” featured across its channels, McDonald’s leverages the content that customers crave the most: their own!
Tito’s Handmade Vodka knows the power of customer-created content, and they’ve shaped multiple campaigns in order to source those engaging visuals. Now, Tito’s features user-generated content across their homepage, Love, Tito’s philanthropy and Vodka for Dog People.
By leveraging specialized content across multiple pages, Tito’s motivates their customers to post more content and share it with the brand. In fact, since adding UGC to their site in 2017, the number of #LoveTitos posts online grew by 254 percent!
By introducing the #VodkaForDogPeople campaign, Tito’s creates a unique content experience across their website and social channels. With so much man’s-best-friend content being created by their customers, Tito’s created a new Instagram, @vodkafordogpeople, specifically for the evergreen campaign.
Look at all these cute, four-legged Tito’s fans! They are irresistible, and so is their Tito’s gear.
Magnum Ice Cream Pleasure Pop-Up
Rich and delicious Magnum Ice Cream has launched a digital-out-of-home (DOOH) campaign in the Westfield Mall in Sydney, Australia. The Sydney Pleasure Store is inviting customers to come in and create their own Magnum ice cream treat—and then share it on social with #MagnumSyd.
Magnum will be featuring the customer-created sweet treats on digital screens throughout the mall to encourage other visitors to get in on the experience.
Whether through hashtag campaigns, web experiences, physical promotions, experiences or DOOH screens, leveraging user-generated content is the best strategy for food and beverage brands looking to boost their marketing efforts.
Interested in learning more? Check out our eBook, 10 Food & Beverage Campaigns that Satisfied Peoples’ Hunger for Authentic Visual Experiences.
Cover photo credit: @nataliakrslovic.