How Consumers Use Social Networks to Connect with Food Retailers: Is Facebook a Good Fit?
Posted: July 2, 2012
The first groups of retailers that were examined were large, national businesses. As seen in Table 1, between 21-26% of respondents felt that Facebook was a good fit for supercenters (for example, Walmart), discounters (for example Aldi or Dollar General), and warehouse clubs (for example BJ’s or Sam’s Club). However, over a third felt Facebook was a good fit for internet/mail-order food businesses.
|Type of retailer||Percent response|
As might be expected, younger individuals were more likely to indicate that Facebook was a good fit for supercenters, warehouse clubs, and internet and mail-order food businesses. Table 2 shows how age affected responses.
|Age group||Supercenter||Discounter||Warehouse club||Internet/mail-order food business|
|18 to 24||30.7%||26.1%||28.4%||33.0%|
|25 to 36||30.8%||25.9%||29.3%||35.7%|
|37 to 48||26.5%||22.2%||26.5%||37.9%|
|48 to 64||23.2%||19.1%||20.5%||30.6%|
|65 and older||15.4%||17.1%||17.1%||23.9%|
Our next group of data focused on smaller-scale food retailers. As you can see in Table 3, nearly 35% of participants indicated that Facebook was a good fit for local groceries while around 30% of respondents felt that it was a good fit for grocery stores and supermarkets, such as Shop Rite, and specialty food stores like Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods.
|Type of food retailer||Percent response|
|Specialty food store||29.8%|
When examining responses based on select demographics, we found a few significant differences related to Facebook being a good fit for specialty food stores. More males than females felt Facebook was a good fit for these stores (Table 4), while there was a negative relationship between a respondents’ ages group and Facebook “fit” (Table 5). Those 18-24 years old were twice as likely as those 65 and older to indicate that Facebook was a good fit for specialty food stores. Lastly, those with higher levels of education, specifically those with a bachelor’s degree, were more likely to believe that Facebook was a good fit for specialty food stores (Table 6).
|Age group||Percent response|
|18 to 24||39.8%|
|25 to 36||35.7%|
|37 to 48||31.7%|
|49 to 64||25.3%|
|65 and older||19.7%|
|Education level||Percent response|
|High school degree or less||25.0%|
|Some college or technical school||27.5%|
|Master's degree or higher||31.3%|
Our data also revealed that about one-third of our participants indicated that Facebook was a good fit for direct marketers such as on-farm markets, farmers’ markets, U-Pick, and local wineries (Table 7).
|Type of retailer||Percent response|
|On-farm and farmers' markets||33.1%|
|Roadside fruit/vegetable stand||28.6%|
Approximately one-third of participants felt that Facebook was a good fit for all types of food retailers investigated. Hence, as mentioned in previous articles, if you have not yet developed a social media presence, you may want to consider Facebook as a way to connect with your customers. Additionally, younger respondents were more likely to indicate that Facebook was a good fit for several different types of retailers. As we’ve indicated in other videos in the series, be sure to consider your audience when developing your strategy and choose tools that resonate with your clientele.
In the next article, we will present data that discusses other social media and web-based tools that might be good fits for food retailers. To view the entire YouTube series, please visit Penn State Extension Food and Farm Business YouTube Channel.
- Assistant to the Director for Special Program Initiatives
- Professor of Horticultural Marketing and Business Management