Social media has the opportunity to influence food preferences

Market research shows that consumers are learning about food options through social media.

Social media outlets are no longer just a venue to connect with friends but are increasingly a mechanism for consumers to learn about food. The Web is populated with an abundance of blogs all talking about food in one form or another. Food is a main topic of conversation on Facebook and Twitter. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association has a twitter handle, @BeefForDinner which provides advice on purchasing, preparing, and enjoying beef. Instagram, a popular app for photo sharing is often used for sharing food pictures that are then posted to sites across the Internet.

Internet World Stats outlines that 78 percent of individuals in the United States use the Internet. Sixty percent of online consumers say they read social networking sites weekly and 32 percent say they read social networking sites daily.

The Hartman Group, a market research firm that specializes in consumer behavior, trends and culture is a recognized leader in market research in the food industry. The Clicks and Cravings Survey they conducted examined the impact of social technology on food culture with some interesting findings.

The Clicks and Cravings Survey found that 49 percent of online adults reported they learn about food via social networking. Forty percent of online adults reported they learn about food via websites, apps or blogs. Survey participants were asked if they spend more time reading about food from print or online sources. Forty-six percent of online consumers reported they spend more time reading online and 31 percent said they spend equal amounts of time reading about food online and from print sources. All of these statistics are important factors to consider when marketing a food product.

Advertising special offers or coupons via the web is becoming more popular. It is now commonplace to find coupons on Facebook that can be downloaded. Forty-seven percent of survey respondents reported that they have searched for coupons or specials online.

The Michigan State University Product Center provides assistance to Michigan residents developing and marketing food products. Innovation counselors are located in Michigan State University Extension offices across the state and can assist entrepreneurs with concept development, business planning, food product testing, marketing and navigating the regulatory maze.

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