From an early age I learned about the social value of food.
My late mum (bless her), committed many horrific food crimes when I was growing up. The arrival of the enormous wood-grained National microwave in the 1970’s sparked her culinary nadir; destroying everything that went inside like some sort of nuclear kitchen holocaust. I still glow a bit under a certain light.
But she did also pull out the odd miracle.
Nothing scored better than a platter of her cheese and herb toasties presented to a ravenous band of teenage drinkers late in the evening. Or the day I stopped the school playground in its tracks with a greaseproof wrapper full of mum’s incredibly exotic cream cheese, lettuce, Marmite and walnut sandwiches.
Clearly, food has the ability to create social currency – both positively and negatively.
Which brings me to the modern phenomenon of Foodstagramming. The basic idea is that no decent meal can go unphotographed and shared.
Apparently, food is the most popular content item on Instagram, with 438,921,588 food hashtagged images. The most popular food hashtags are #food, #foodporn, #instafood and #yummy. According to a study of 100,000 Instagram images by Photoworld.com the top 10 Instagrammed foods internationally are:
So why all the fuss? It seems that ‘gramming our food satisfies us in several significant ways:
The new grace. A shared ritual before we eat that is designed to celebrate and indicate our gratitude for what we are about to eat.
It makes us happier. Studies have shown that taking food photos is a way of verifying our eating experience that increases our sense of pleasure. It can also make the food actually taste better due to the delayed gratification and repeated, episodic and fixed ritual of ‘gramming’.
Look at me. Instagrammed food conveys messages to our friends about ourselves. They can show how good I am, how lucky I am, how naughty I am, how brave I am, how rich I am, or confirm that I am really here experiencing this extraordinary feast.
Mixed food health. In terms of health, Instagram provides mixed messages. On the positive side, it helps the recovery of people with eating disorders by documenting their meals. However, it can also fuel an unhealthy fixation with eating and the wrong sort of foods.
The implications of this are profound for anyone in the food industry. The visual impact and ‘grammagenic value of meals is increasingly the way that consumers frame their satisfaction.
How ‘grammable is your food offering?
Some brands truly understand the power of the ‘user generated’ image. For example, Giapo has turned ice-creams into a visual extravaganza. Top restaurants like Sidart create their meals as works of art. Fashionable food trucks like The Lucky Taco understand the power of content potential for customers. And FMCG brands like Pure Delish understand that it is through the eyes of that people fall in love with food products.
In contrast, those that disregard the smartphone empowered customer do so at their peril. One category that is at significant risk in this respect is the large quick-service restaurants. Who hasn’t taken the bait of a delicious looking menu, only to be bitterly disappointed by the tragic and massively underwhelming food that bears no resemblance to the menu image?
We really do need to save the planet now – with genuine alternatives like electric vehicles and without old habits like single-use plastic.
Digital transformation marches on– but in many organisations, it can be a bumpy journey with conceptual disconnects and slow-to-adapt people and systems
Mainstreaming of technology building blocks – marketing automation, AI, bots, voice assistants, VR/AR…
A newly minted government – it used to be ‘justify why you need to spend’, and now it is more a case of ‘what are you investing in to do the job?’
Big tactics, skinny strategy – lots of short-term initiatives in the marketplace, with less attention to long-term strategy (I recommend you read ‘Why aren’t we doing this? care of the Commercial Communications Council)
Swelling in-house teams– with DIY e-commerce, marketing automation, social media and design. But as with home DIY it does vary in quality.
The digital deluge – if you thought traditional media advertising created discontent, the digital world has taken interruption to a new high/low.
Losing Facebook – the giant has slipped in terms of trust and confidence, with young people especially departing in large numbers.
Influencers are the names with the numbers – social media stars with lots of followers are becoming go-to media options.
Shopping events – Black Friday is now a bigger shopping event than Boxing Day and Singles’ Day is the world’s biggest at USD 30 billion.
Authenticity – the antidote to fake news and marketing hyperbole and a must-have for Gen Z. Reviews have replaced ads as the selection driver in many categories.
Personalisation – tools like marketing automation and AI are enabling the next level of direct marketing.
Privacy – the flipside of personalisation -an increasing issue for modern marketing practices.
New ways to pay – we’re seeing a rash of new payment platforms emerging, most of them channelled through our mobiles.
Gen Z – move over Millennials, there are new kids entering the workforce.
The rise of in-house agencies is certainly one of the biggest changes within the marketing world over the past few years. In-house teams are brought together usually to run digital marketing programmes, or design work, or social media.
The business case for an in-house agency is typically a mix of:
Focus & attention – no agency can know or care as much as we do about our business.
Greater agility – being always on they make businesses more responsive.
Managing the digital engine – having the core drivers of direct e-commerce owned and managed in-house.
Cost savings – shedding the cost of external agencies in favour of internal teams.
Because others are doing it – in-house teams are in vogue and seen as the modern way to go.
There are many companies that operate a mixed model of some in-house, supplemented by external specialists.
While some in-house agencies operate very effectively, there are some problems that are all too common.
Three big ones are:
Ready, fire, aim
This is when companies are looking for short-term wins, but end up delivering short-term whims that lack strategic purpose or cohesion. Having the means of production at hand can make it too tempting to execute before thinking it through.
The risk is inconsistency, a lack of relevance, confusion and a dilution of brand strength.
Cars with no petrol This is when the creation of in-house capability is a mask for reducing the marketing budget. It can become an excuse for minimising marketing effort.
The risk is an erosion of brand health through underinvestment.
Drinking our own Kool-Aid
This is when companies limit their activity to only what they do in-house. An internal focus without debate and the stretch of strategic and creative interpretation can lead to companies limiting the scope and quality of what they do.
The risk is weak marketing and communications, resulting from limited strategic, creative or technical crafting.
Headlight works with a number of in-house teams, providing expert strategic direction, problem solving and insights to help clients get the best from their marketing investment.
Please get in touch for a chat if you need help with your in-house team.