The Food and Beverage Industry—a large and complex sector—is all about tastes, choices, and habits. Therefore, we’re talking about factors that are extremely variable and, above all, intimate and personal. These are decisive factors. 

Now let’s introduce another element: digital

Photos of restaurants, dishes, tables of friends or colleagues, advice from big or “micro” influencers, opinions and reviews, video tutorials and recipes, portals dedicated to reservations and home delivery… While these are just a few examples, one thing is clear: food and drink are everywhere, online. Digital Transformation has had an extraordinary impact on the entire industry. But, beware, it’s not just about marketing and communication. There is also an impact of digital that is less “visible” but no less decisive: the impact on production and distribution. 

We would like to underline, from the outset, that all of these aspects are intimately connected within this diverse industry. To read more about Digital Transformation in the Food and Beverage sector, see this post on our blog. Instead, we want to look at the connection between “digital” and “personal.” Here, a fundamental link can be summed up in one word: “data.”


From Big Data, to segmentation, to personalization

What do we mean when we talk about Big Data? Let’s start with a very precise and technical definition provided by Gartner: “Big data is high-volume, high-velocity and/or high-variety information assets that demand cost-effective, innovative forms of information processing that enable enhanced insight, decision making, and process automation.”

Operationally, Big Data refers to the digital traces that we all leave online, whether we are using a search engine, navigating via GPS, posting a photo or video on Instagram, “liking” something, reviewing a restaurant, using an app that monitors our workout program or our diet, and so on. It’s called “Big” for a reason.

For companies in every sector, learning to analyze this huge amount of information is vital, especially because it allows you to do something important using very modern tools: to know the customer in front of you, your audience, your target. Such tools can help you get to know your audience of hundreds, even thousands. Here it is, the first strong link between “digital” and “personal.”

At this level, however, more than people, we are still talking about segments, or “clusters.” The analysis of Big Data allows us to divide our audience into smaller and smaller groups, based on their characteristics andon different metrics.  Once these “micro-targets” have been identified, they can be hit with tailor-made communications, aiming at maximum effectiveness. These are the dynamics of data-driven marketing, which we discussed in this post.

Here, instead, we would like to pose the question: Can we go beyond segmentation? In short, can we put in place marketing and customer service actions that are addressed to the individual person, in a dialog that is completely and truly one-to-one? The answer is yes, thanks to personalization. According to Just-food, personalization will be one of the most disruptive trends for the food industry.


3 examples of personalized marketing applied to the Food and Beverage Industry

Now, we’ll take a look at three examples of personalized marketing applied to the Food and Beverage Industry. We will begin with a classic and well-known case, and conclude with a case that points to the future of personalization.


1. Coca-Cola: Personalization in a pioneering campaign

Remember the “Share-a-Coke” campaign? This is the campaign where names of individuals were printed on Coke cans with the invitation to share their “personalized Coca-Cola” on social media.

It was 2011 (which was fairly early in the digital age), and the campaign was first launched in Australia; given its enormous success, it was eventually exported to over 70 countries. The initial target who inspired the idea, was Australian millennials: 50% of them had never tasted a Coca-Cola. The goal, therefore, was to try to connect this huge audience to the historic brand, in a way that was emotional and essentially “personal.”

It was a very basic level of personalization. And, it was a huge success, transforming individuals into true “ambassadors” of the brand. This must give us pause for thought. Here are some data, collected only three months after the launch of the campaign in Australia; they are really impressive:

  • Coca-Cola consumption among young Australian adults grew by 7%.
  • More than 76,000 “digital cans” of Coca-Cola were shared online.
  • Traffic on the brand’s Facebook channels saw an 870% increase.
  • The views of photos and videos related to the campaign, only on Facebook (and always in 3 months), were over 121 million.

You can read more about the campaign and results at this link.


2. Combining the power of video with the power of personalization: The case of Cadbury

Video is certainly the most effective means of communication in the digital world. It’s something we may sense, but here is some significant data to support it:

  • Over a billion hours of video are watched every day on Youtube.
  • 78% of online users watch at least one video every week. 55% watch one every day (source: HubSpot).
  • On Facebook, about 100 million hours of video are watched every day, and on Twitter, 82% of subscribers view videos constantly (source: TechCrunch). Instagram, finally, has based much of its overwhelming success in recent years on this type of media.
  • 55% of people pay more attention to videos than any other type of content (source: OmniKick). When watching a video, the average user retains 95% of the message contained in it; if we talk about text, this percentage stops at 10% (source: Wirebuzz).

After all these premises, let’s look at the case of British chocolate company Cadbury. The company has already been engaging in personalized marketing for several years now; in 2015, it launched a campaign aimed at India, where the custom of giving chocolate as a gift was still not very widespread.

Each user, by connecting to their social accounts, had the opportunity to create a gift in the form of a personalized video that recipients could view via QR code or through the website when they opened the box of chocolate.  

Let’s take a look at the results: the click-through rate increased by 65%, and the conversion rate was 33%. This is important data, which prompted the company to expand the operation to Australia in the following year (For more information, see here).


3. Vinome: a look at the future of personalization

There are some players in the industry who are taking personalization a step further.

Vinome, for example, is a Californian start-up that offers an extremely “tailor-made” service: it analyzes your tastes, your preferences, and even your DNA. Based on this information, it recommends the perfect bottle of wine for you, and delivers it to your home.

In short, this is certainly a niche case… for now, at least. But it also illustrates how important personalization is for the Food and Beverage Industry, and even more so in the future.