How Consumers Use Social Networks to Connect with Food Retailers: Belonging to a Food Business’s Social Network

Posted: May 28, 2012

As we continue with presenting data from an Internet survey conducted to learn how consumers use social media to engage with food retailers, below you will see highlights related to reasons people join a business’s social network by liking or following the business.

Among our survey respondents, nearly three out of four had joined one or more business’s social networks.   As you can see in Table 1, 80% of those between 25 and 48 years old were likely to be a part of one or more businesses’ social networks.

Table 1. Probability of belonging to a business’s social network by age group.

Age group
Percent response
18 to 24
 25 to 36
 37 to 48
 49 to 64
 65 and older  

Respondents who were members of at least one social network were asked why they chose to join.  Here are some of the reasons:

  •  61% were interested in learning about the business’s goods and services as well as its general direction.
  •  49% hoped to learn of sales before the general public did.
  •  46% hoped to learn of sales promotions exclusively available to members of the social network.
  • 45% wanted to learn about events that were hosted or held by the business.
  • 36% wanted to learn more about the business.
  •  21% wanted to learn about a hobby they were interested in.
  • 17% wanted to learn about complementary businesses (for example a winery promoting a cheese business).
  • 16% wanted to learn about the business’s industry.

The data also revealed that women were more likely than men to be interested in learning about sales before the general public, exclusive sales, and events hosted by the business (Table 2). 

Table 2.  Top three reasons why female and male participants joined a business’s social network.

To learn about events related to the
45.7% 37.3%
 To learn about sales before the
 general public
51.4% 43.8%
Have access to exclusive sales for

By reviewing all of the data presented here, you can gain some great insights on what your business’s audience wants to learn about (i.e., the business’s goods and services, sales promotions, and events).   Also, keep in mind that women are slightly more interested in sales and events than men are, so craft your messages accordingly.

In the next article, we will present data that discusses in more detail what types of information consumers expect to obtain from a food business via social networking.  To view the entire YouTube series, please visit





Contact Information

Jeffrey Hyde, Ph.D.
  • Associate Director of Programs
Phone: 814-865-5666
Kathy Kelley
  • Professor of Horticultural Marketing and Business Management
Phone: 814-863-2196
Dana Ollendyke
  • Extension Associate
Phone: 814-863-5567