Shopping for groceries online is the ultimate convenience afforded by today’s technology. Whether it’s for the weekly food shop or seeking out specialist ingredients, more and more consumers are turning to eCommerce to fill their refrigerators. It’s a fast-growing industry and in the US eCommerce grocery sales are set to reach $59.5 billion by 2023. The boom has undoubtedly been led by retail giant Amazon, owners of AmazonFresh and WholeFoods, who earned 32.7% market share of online sales for food and drink in 2019. But brands such as Walmart, Target and Kroger, who are combining bricks-and-mortar supermarkets with eCommerce are hot on their heels.
In an industry dominated by a few brand leaders, is it possible for medium and specialized grocers to stand out from the crowd? We definitely think so. Using influencer marketing to lean into your niche and cultivate credibility amongst your target audience is the way forward for eCommerce grocery brands of all sizes.
The credibility factor
In order to establish your share of the eCommerce market and begin the journey to becoming a household name, you need to build credibility and trust in your brand. Consumers are wary about brands and most concerned about marketing messages and the use of their personal data. This is where working with the right influencers in a transparent manner can build positive sentiment around brand identity for good PR. If trust in brands is waning, in general, it’s possible to combat this by borrowing credibility from influencers. It is vital that you identify the types of influencers that your target audience can relate to and trust. For supermarkets, this can include influencers who are fellow parents, dieticians, or health experts. Working with these influencers who can vouch for the quality and price of your products will be key to demonstrating your brand’s credibility and leadership in the field.
For grocers, marketing the brand’s wholesomeness and credibility usually centers around promoting the freshness of produce and positioning the supermarket at the heart of local communities. This strategy links directly to consumers’ interests in freshness, product origin, and ingredients. The technique is already being employed by large retailers such as WholeFoods with their #LocalatWholeFoods and #MakesMeWhole campaign that plays on their ‘local market’ brand identity despite being part of a multinational conglomerate.
Lean into your niche
Your niche is what sets you apart from the others and it can be leveraged to appeal to new audiences. Instead of competing with catch-all bricks-and-mortar stores that stock food, beverages, consumer packaged goods, clothing, and much more besides, decide what your grocery brand should be known for. It could be your organic product range, your stellar customer service, or your value for money. Identifying what makes your brand special and then pushing out that message thanks to influencers will improve brand awareness in the crowded grocery market.
Influencers can help to build a community of loyal customers around your chosen niche. Your strategy should focus on collaborations with a wide variety of influencers that can each appeal to different segments of your target customers. You’ll want to carefully consider how to match up influencers and products with the different priorities of these groups in your target market. For example, busy parents will be interested in buying quick family meals, lunchbox staples and healthy snacks for kids. Whereas, a single, fitness-oriented man might be interested in high protein produce, energy drinks, and healthy frozen meals.
Now you have an idea about why influencer marketing works and the types of creators to work with, it’s time to explore creative content possibilities for grocery store brands, including:
- Grocery hauls
- Holidays, celebrations and seasonal moments
- Brand ambassadors
One type of post that lends itself well to the grocery industry is the ‘haul’, where influencers share a selection of products from a brand and list them out tagging the brand in the post. This can be a good way to showcase a weekly shop or a specific selection of ingredients that can be bought from your online grocery store. These posts perform well as it gives a personal insight into influencers daily life whilst also showing off your brand.
Another way to promote your eCommerce grocery brand is through custom recipe posts featuring ingredients purchased at the store. This technique could promote a new product, or be a way to link to your niche by featuring specific kinds of recipes like healthy recipes, recipes on a budget, etc. It’s also a great way to leverage the creativity of influencers who will enjoy coming up with unique recipe ideas to share with their followers.
Your influencer campaigns could also see activity around key calendar dates that are important to your target market. You can use certain holidays to promote certain associated products through influencer promo codes and giveaways such as promoting chocolate creations around Easter time. Whilst you should aim for long-term influencer partnerships for all year round in order to build sustained interest and sales for your brand, it can be a good way to refresh your campaigns with a timely product promotion around certain times of the year.
A final way to use influencer marketing is through recruiting brand ambassadors to regularly promote your brand. This works best by identifying your most influential customers to raise awareness of your brand through their organic online and offline networks. Sprouts Framer’s Market has put this in place, working with several ambassadors known as ‘Sprouts partners’ to highlight different positive aspects of the brand. By working directly with your customer base they can share real-life examples of using your brand and products from their daily lives. By leveraging ambassadors in this way, brands are also able to repurpose the content created for their own brand channels and use testimonials on their website and newsletter.
Upfluence Live Capture is a new dedicated tool aimed to help eCommerce brands plan and activate brand ambassador campaigns with their most influential clients. The tool collects customers’ social data shared via your eCommerce site in order to help you select and convert your clients with high social media following and engagement into your most influential brand ambassadors.