Taking a Byte

While more than a few food and beverage brands are beginning to exploit the emerging creative opportunities in the online space, many more are still inexperienced with the true potential of digital marketing. For industry decision-makers, understanding how to realize that potential and leverage the advantages of this approach — including best practices for creating digital marketing strategies that better target their ideal demographics — is essential.

Because the digital media landscape occupies such a vast and diverse expanse of virtual real estate, it is a medium that allows for a great deal of highly customized and highly effective targeting in marketing and advertising campaigns. 

Unlike traditional media marketing, digital platforms and messaging can be surgically precise in delivering commercial messaging.

Target Audience

There are two primary reasons digital platforms lend themselves so well to targeted campaigns. The first is the precision with which specific audiences and demographic groups can be selected. 

There is a rich digital ecosystem out there with so many dedicated websites and vibrant online communities that are, in many cases, pre-selected by interest groups that provide unique opportunities to connect and make an impact. Consequently, if you have a product you know will appeal to an audience, it is relatively easy to cater a creative message and know that that message is getting exactly where it needs to go. 

Food and beverage lends itself particularly well to this kind of lifestyle/demographic-based targeting. The lifestyle we live has a direct and translatable impact on where, how and what we eat and drink. From outdoor enthusiasts to the travel and hospitality sector, the opportunities to identify and speak to a very specific audience are abundant.

The other reason that digital marketing and advertising is so effective is because of the inherent flexibility of the format. If a brand of beer wants to roll out a campaign for a new seasonal release, for example, it can do so within some very specific and flexible parameters. 

Geo-targeting can help bolster region-specific sales and real-time optimization means that messaging and content can be adapted and refined on the fly. Creative and scalable digital content can also be rolled out not only on very specific sites and online publications, but also at very specific times. That powerful confluence of time, geography and audience is something you can do in digital that you cannot do in other media.

Brand Tactics

For food and beverage brands looking to better engage their ideal demographics in the digital space, it is not just about who is listening, but it is about what you are saying and how you are saying it. 

The effectiveness of some messaging can be measured through transactional metrics based on click-through numbers, conversions and fairly straightforward math. However, larger brands and brands trying to build brand awareness have to engage in more complicated and imprecise surveys. Because of this, it’s vital that your messaging connects.

While some product/audience pairings are obvious — pizza and beer or granola bars and bottled water — others can surprise. Sapporo Beer surprised with its “Open for Adventure” campaign geared toward those with an active lifestyle by offering rucksack giveaways and a grand prize trip to Hawaii. 

Digital provides unique opportunities to carve out a specific niche to reach an audience who already uses/likes your product and to present yourself in new ways. For 5-hour Energy, the 2013 unveiling of a seasonal camouflage can was a creative way to do just that. The brand touted its size and convenience as the ideal solution for hunters, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts.

Gaining Traction

One exciting aspect of digital campaigns is that communication is not just a one-way street. Digital platforms often provide the added advantage of letting brands know exactly how their message was received and who responded most strongly to that message. 

This invaluable feedback can open up opportunities to connect with a new audience. If a brand discovers that a campaign got a great reaction from surfers, that new information can be integrated into future marketing efforts.

The bottom line is that there is opportunity here. With fewer of the larger players operating in the digital space it is a comparatively lower barrier for entry and offers greater bang-for-your-buck efficiency. Creative digital campaigns can make an impact, get traction, and forge powerful and lasting connections with your target demographics. 

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