Healthy is the New Cool

Consumers choose brands that are an extension of their identity and today that means an active, healthier lifestyle. According to Nielsen, an estimated 2.1 billion people – nearly 30% of the global population – are overweight. Consumers are changing their diets, exercising more, turning to diet pills and protein shakes, or even getting prescription weight-loss medicines. As a result, healthy brand categories are growing fast and people are willing to pay a premium for better products. In fact, the global sales of healthy food products are expected to reach $1 trillion by 2017.

Brands who sell food products are reformulating to eliminate the bad – sugars, cholesterols – and injecting more organic ingredients. As Nielsen’s report states, “The most desirable attributes are foods that are fresh, natural and minimally processed.” And 88% of people are willing to pay more to get it. Consumers purchase decisions are now influenced by products that reduce the risk of disease, promote good health, and show off a healthy lifestyle.

Business Insider states, “In 2013, 42% of people said they’d be embarrassed to be spotted carrying a bag from McDonald’s.” The majority of Americans are “actively trying to be healthier” so brands need to start promoting themselves as such. This year we’ll see trends in athleisure wear, intense fitness programs, meditation, and healthier eating options. As Business Insider states, “Publicly signaling that you’re a healthy, nutrition-savvy individual is the new cool.” People would prefer to be spotted wearing a FitBit or Lululemon attire and with the explosion of social media, people want to publically share their life choices.

This is where the power of social media can actually help get people in shape. The explosion of selfies and constant updates about one’s life has taken social media by storm and everyone wants to look good. What you wear, what you do and where you go says something about yourself. It’s self-advertising if you will. So it’s time for brands to step up to this growing demand.  Companies like Coke and Pepsi are doing just that with Dasani and Aquafina, respectively. With the decline in soda consumption, these two beverage giants are turning their focus on bottled water. Taking a page out of Evian’s book, they are looking to associate health and wellness with their brands.

The health movement is on the rise and with the power of social influence it’s time to make a change to our lifestyle. It’s not a means to an end; it’s the start of hopefully a long, active journey.


Goodbye Cookbooks. Hello Social Media.

With the falling of the leaves and chilling of the air, it’s time for some hot chocolate, apple cider and maybe some homemade banana bread. But, where can I find the best recipes? Gone are the nostalgic days of browsing Barnes and Noble for a visually stunning cookbook with delicious recipes that would make your mouth water. Today, the advent of the Internet and social media lets both professional and amateur chefs share their latest and greatest creations instantaneously. Sites like the Food Network, AllRecipes and BakeSpace make it easy to find not only the recipe you are looking for, but various iterations of how to make the same dish. In fact, roughly 49% of consumers learn about food through social networks and are turning to social media to post photos of what they cook and eat (or wish they could cook and eat). And let’s face it, the best posts are the comparison photos of what it’s supposed to look like…and then what you actually make.

While I am a fan of browsing recipes on specific food websites (i.e. Pinterest), I think there is a limit to how many food photos people should be posting to their own Instagram feed. Don’t get me wrong, I am guilty of a post here and there, but let’s be sporadic about it people. I don’t need to see your entire food diary (especially if you cooked it, and let’s be honest, you aren’t the best at food placement). However, if you are an aspiring chef, developing your own recipes from scratch and are an artist when it comes to finding your way around a plate, by all means I look forward to seeing what you have to offer (as well as an invitation to your next dinner party!).


Kudos to Doritos for their latest marketing initiative for the It Gets Better Project in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. They created limited-edition bags of rainbow Doritos that are only available to supporters of the cause with donations of $10 or more. It just goes to show the voice brands have that can really make a difference. In fact, when I went to buy a bag, they were sold out! In as much as I was disappointed, I was also happy to see that donations were flowing.

Doritos is a brand that stands for being bold, so this initiative, #boldandbetter, was a perfect extension of their values. Ram Krishnan, CMO, says it best, “Doritos Rainbows chips are a first-of-its-kind product supporting the LGBT community. Doritos the brand has stood ‘for the bold,’ and we believe there is nothing bolder than being yourself.”

When it comes to social media, and all brand marketing for that matter, it is important that any creative execution be authentic to the brand voice. And if you don’t have a brand voice, I suggest you figure that one out first…and fast. As a brand, know who you are and what you stand for, and then develop innovative ideas that reflect those values. If you don’t do that, it’ll be like Halloween everyday where you’re pretending to be someone you are not (and guess what, people will notice!).

Small Plates for Big Conversation

The idea of small plates is not a new one and has been trending for over a decade. Plates where you can order more than one to grant you the satisfaction of trying a little bit of everything. I love small plates. In fact, I could live off tapas and desserts (and maybe a little Sangria) every day. So, this got me thinking. As I enjoyed a lovely small plate of crab cake at Battery Gardens in NYC, I came to the realization that small plates that can really pull you in. They are small enough to digest, extremely enjoyable, and probably end up costing you a little more than anticipated. At the end of the meal, you don’t even care the cost, because you had such a great time eating and conversing with company.

So how is this any different than social media? We are all looking for those “small plates” on social media that get us in the conversation. For businesses, this means developing bits and pieces of content to distribute more frequently as opposed to waiting for huge campaigns to hit. Don’t serve the main dish and be done. It’s the small, digestible pieces of content that are going to make your customers happiest and give you the biggest return.

Eat Ice Cream in the “Sweetest” Community

When it comes to relationship building, Dairy Queen (DQ®) knows how to make you feel like part of the club. The Sweetest Club in the Solar System to be exact.

Since 1940, DQ, subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, Inc., has been serving great tasting food and scrumptious treats that all started with an experimental soft frozen dairy product. Since then, the company has evolved into the franchise giant that it is today with over 6,000 restaurants in the U.S., Canada and 18 other countries. Its success has revolved around pairing their products with enjoyable moments in life like a little league celebration or a birthday party. Their mission is clear: “Fan Food not Fast Food™”. Their recipe for success is simple: Satisfied customers lead to successful restaurants.

What makes DQ’s strategy so successful is that they listen and celebrate the fans. According to MarketWatch (2015), “The Cotton Candy Blizzard Treat makes its return as May’s Blizzard of the Month following a landslide vote from the DQ brand’s most loyal fans” as part of celebrating their 75th Fanniversary. They even offered a free cone day on March 16th, 2015 in honor of the Fanniversary. Barry Westrum, executive VP of marketing, states, “This is all about connecting with our fans and not just about telling them, but showing them how much we appreciate their loyalty” and DQ will continue celebrating their fans by surprising and delighting them throughout the year.


DQ’s mobile app, website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Tumbler pages have wisely been executed to support their current #SUMMERNOW campaign. Their #SUMMERNOW campaign is a nation-wide call-to-action to grab a Blizzard, declare your favorite, and share it with your friends encouraging them to share their favorite as well. I declared Oreo Blizzard my favorite. Share yours here.


DQ is taking advantage of their key product, the Blizzard as a competitive advantage over its competitors, Basking Robbins and Carvel. In just its first year, more than 175 billion Blizzard® treats were sold. They also capitalized on the summer season for their campaign which is when the urge for ice cream surges. It’s the right message at the right time.

Personally their Best Blizzard Menu Ever campaign is conjunction with #SUMMERNOW is genius and I would recommend that DQ take a page from Doritos playbook asking their fans to come up with new Blizzard flavors. Since a key target audience for ice cream is children, it would be great if they could tie it into a science or culinary lesson and make it part of school curriculum for a day. Another suggestion would be to develop creative that shows more family celebrations incorporating a more lifestyle approach to reach parents. Parents should see the content and think “I’m going to surprise my kids with ice cream tonight”. A final idea is to be inspired by Starbucks’ previous “Tweet-a-coffee” program and allow people to share a Blizzard via tweet. It’s social currency that is starting to trend and DQ can be at the forefront of the movement.

If You Can’t Find It, You Won’t Watch It

Video is a powerful tool for marketers. Giraudie (2014) states, “In the span of a few minutes, videos can transport audiences to the front lines of an organization to experience compelling stories by sight and sound”. However, this transportation through a compelling storyline only occurs if the content grabs the audience through emotional, educational or humorous appeal. The length of a video should also be bite size as our attention spans continue to decrease. In fact, the average attention span dropped to 8 seconds in 2013 with the average length of a single internet video being watched for 2.7 minutes. Once the video tells the right story at the proper length, it must be posted at the right time that is both relevant and memorable. It is critical for proper descriptions and tags to be implemented for search engine optimization. It is of no benefit to a company if the audience cannot find it. Lastly, the video should not just be posted in a “spray and pray” manner, but supported with call-to-action links across multiple social platforms served up to the proper target audiences.

YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google, which makes it the perfect platform to distribute video. Domino’s Pizza utilizes YouTube as part of their content distribution strategy. Domino’s Pizza currently has 4,833 YouTube subscribers since November 2007 and 1.8+ million views. To give a comparison, Pizza Hut has 14k submissions and 11+ million views and Papa John’s has over 4.7 million views in about the same time frame. Needless to say, Domino’s has some catching up and also some cleaning up. After a 2009 social media disaster of employees posting prank videos of unsanitary food-preparation practices, the brand needed to reinvent itself. Their solution was to listen and react. Their recent videos revolve around passionate employees and a positive work culture, new recipes with fresh ingredients, high-tech ordering solutions, leadership development and a couple of older campaign videos around Shark Week, March Madness and Super Bowl.

Measurement is just as important as the video content itself. Litt (2014) indicates that video is one of the most measurement mediums to add to social strategies. Fortunately, all their videos are under 4 minutes in length which is great for attention span; however 35% of their videos received fewer than 1,000 views. The top performing video was posted five years ago when Domino’s announced they were reinventing their recipe. Since then, their top performing videos are heavily focused on product, but they are few and far between. Key metrics to monitor include attention span/drop-off rate, views, likes, shares, and comment sentiment that can be accessed through YouTube Insights.

The pizza company’s YouTube channel consists of 45 videos, only one playlist and one channel subscriptions. First and foremost, subscribe to other channels. If you don’t follow others, they won’t follow you. This is a huge missed opportunity to interact and connect. Next, develop a more robust content strategy and produce videos that are more product-focused. Get customer testimonials, work with influencers in the space, and get creative. Rise above the noise by doing something different. Lastly, pay attention to community management and stand out by engaging in two-way communications (something that brands tend to forget about).