How Consumers Use Social Networks to Connect with Food Retailers: Consumers’ Expectations of Connecting With a Food Business via Social Networking

Posted: June 4, 2012

In today’s installment, we provide a more detailed view of the types of information that consumers expect to obtain from a food business. We also look at a few differences in expectations across demographic groups.

We asked respondents to tell us what they expected from a food producer or retailer if they joined the business’s social network.  Table 1 shows responses ranked from most to least desired.  As you can see, about two-thirds of our respondents expected notices of price promotions such as coupons and sales.  A majority of respondents also expected recipes and preparation instructions while just over 40% expected news about nutritional information and special events. 

Table 1.  Percent of respondents who desired specific information from a food producer or retailer via social media.

Desired information
or notices
Percent response
Notice of price promotions 
Preparation instructions
Notice of special events
Nutritional information and
serving size
Serving suggestions
Health claims
Storage suggestions
Responses to questions
Links to industry sites
Links to related businesses 


Statistical differences were found in how people with different income levels respond to price promotions.  Table 2 shows that some groups find these more appealing, but no clear trend can be identified.  On the other hand, Table 3 shows there is a clear positive trend in the relationship between education level and interest in notices of events.  This may be an indication that those with higher levels of education are more interested in connecting with your food business by attending special events. 

Table 2.  Percent of respondents by income level who desire price promotion notifications.

Income level  
Percent response
$24,000 or less               
$24,000 to $49,999
 $50,000 to $74,999
 $75,000 to $99,999
$100,000 o $149,999
 $150,000 or greater


Table 3.  Percent of respondents by education level who want to receive notices of events.

Education level
Percent response
High school graduate or less
Some college
B.S. degree
M.S. degree or later                      


These results allow us to draw a few conclusions.  First, many people join a network to learn about the food.   This is indicated by the relatively high average expectations for items such as recipes, preparation suggestions, nutritional information, and serving suggestions.  Second, the top responses participants selected as to why they join a business’s social network was to learn about coupons, sales, and other price promotions.  Finally, there were some subtle differences across demographic groups.  For example, those with higher education levels were more interested in learning about events. Knowing your customer base will help you connect with your target market in the most appropriate way.

In the next article, we will present data that discusses how people are finding food retailers’ social networks online.  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