Grocery Shopping Gone Social

social_cartSocial media has changed the shopping experience for everyone—brands, retailers, and consumers. Social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, Tumblr, and others are now a constant and significant influence on what, where, and how often consumers buy.

When we speak about the path to purchase in this article, we’re talking about influencing consumers before, during, and after their purchase—specifically in the social media sphere.

Stats are always a good place to start:

  • 36% of the population use social media with their grocery shopping
  • 80% of these users are CONSUMING (looking for coupons, deals, etc.) but only 20% are CREATING (generating content, commenting, posting videos, recipes, etc.)

woman_pushing_cartNot to diminish incentivizing fans and followers, but why so much “CONSUMING,” vs. “CREATING”? Brands are always talking about how they can better facilitate more engagement with consumers. But what they find is that the majority of consumers engage and respond primarily through promotional efforts. Here’s a shocker…consumers are not necessarily to blame for this. Shoppers have been conditioned by both brands and retailers to respond to what’s being pushed at them (promos, offers, coupons, etc.), instead of engaging, inspiring and conversing with them. Which would explain why the overwhelming majority of these people (92%) use Facebook—a place where they know they can find these offers.

This makes a case for more meaningful content. Sure, Facebook and Twitter are great venues for quick communication. But, other social platforms such as YouTube, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram are better suited for more meaningful content. And emerging platforms such as Vine and Snapchat provide even higher levels of consumer interaction.

Some brands and retailers are using social mediums like Vine to effectively engage consumers with short, fun videos that provide shoppers with information and insights. Snapchat is being used to connect with younger shoppers on the go. And Tumblr is certainly emerging as a major player in the social space.

Remember, great content is relevant prior, during, and after shopping—inspiring recipes, relevant product information, cooking techniques, dietary trends, entertaining, events, and news— people love to talk about food. Give them the right venue to do so!

Why Millennials Matter to Your Brand


There are 80 million Millennials—24.5% of the US population. They are the largest adult generation, ever and are projected to account for 30% of retail sales by 2020—surpassing Baby Boomers!


They will significantly impact the success or failure of your brand.


As marketers, if you want your brand to be relevant and meaningful to Millennials, you need to know their behavior and how to communicate with them. They are different.


First off, Millennials are the most ethnically and racially diverse group in our nation’s history. They’re less religious, come from “non-traditional” families, and are on track to become the most educated generation.  So much for apple pie and Chevrolet!


Millennials are technologically driven. They’ve grown up with the Internet, iPhones, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Apps, iTunes, Netflix, texting, Skyping, and on and on. Get it? They’re shaping culture, not trying to keep up with it.


Multitasking and simultaneous multiscreening are as natural as walking and chewing bubble gum to Millennials.


Millennials are the information generation. They love to create content—blogging, posting photos and videos, Snapchatting, etc. They are also very willing to share their personal information; email, phone number, preferences, habits, and opinions, as long as they see value in doing so.


This is where your brand has an open invitation to connect and build loyalty with Millennials. Be a part of their social network. Get them to opt-in and text or email them relevant information and special offers that fit their lifestyle.


Marketing to Millennials has to be more significant than simply a few posts on Facebook, a couple of Tweets, and some digital ads. In many cases it means revamping your entire digital platform to effectively connect with this group—in their world—by their rules.


Conclusively, it’s becoming more and more evident every day just how influential Millennials are in the marketplace.  They are dramatically changing the game for marketers.  Are you changing your strategies?

Who Says I Should Be An Intern?

As a college student finishing up my senior year, one of my final requirements to graduate is to log a certain number of hours at an internship. Many people I’ve talked to dread this part of their college career, saying it’s just a waste of time and that they’d never do it again.  Are internships as bad as they sound, or could they be one of the best decisions you’ve ever made?  As I’m halfway through the fall semester as well as my internship with Allebach Communications, I thought it would be helpful to explore what an internship really is in this essay.

The number one problem people have with an internship is that, more often than not, it’s unpaid.  It goes against logic to spend time and gas money on a job that takes without giving.  How will you pay for rent? Or groceries? The phone bill?  These things weigh heavy on the mind as you rack up the hours without a paycheck at the end of the week.  Worse yet, once it’s all over you go work a full day at your retail job so you can make ends meet.  It’s a rigorous schedule, and most definitely not for the faint of heart.  Going to school, going to your internship,  going to your job, managing your home life–that’s a lot of stuff to juggle.

You may be saying to yourself, “but it’s not fair! My parents never had to do all of this stuff!” And you’d be right.  My dad got a full-time job right after graduating from high school and he’s been there ever since; 30 years, just a little longer than he’s been married to my mom.  There were no college degrees, PhD’s or internships, people just stuck with a company and worked themselves up the ladder.  You don’t see many people going from entry-level position to CEO today, now things are different.  Instead of working the same job for half a century, people nowadays are working 15-20 different jobs during a 50 year career.  That’s a new job roughly every three to four years.  So if it’s going to be like that, it looks like there will be much more than one job interview in the future for everyone.

People will tell you, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” I love this saying, but it is the enemy of every 22-year-old with a fresh four-year degree who can’t seem to get their foot in the door at any well paying jobs.  It’s a small world in whatever industry you work in and most everybody knows everyone else.  Ask any employer and they’ll tell you, they’d rather hire someone who they know is good at what they do rather than someone who graduated with a high GPA but has no networking or work experience.  This is all just par for the course nowadays, employers want to take as small a risk as possible when hiring someone new.

Getting an internship should be a no-brainer, yet it is still difficult to get up and do.  As long as you don’t completely screw up, the benefits of having one are innumerable. The first and foremost is job experience; the intersection of what you learned at school and what you can actually do.  This is the kind of stuff that looks great on a resume and you can really sell yourself with this information.  The second benefit is the act of getting your name out in the industry.  Sometimes the company you intern for may hire you after your term is complete.  Other times, you may get hired for a new job because your internship supervisor recommended you to your new boss.  Hint: if you can get people to associate your name with “hard worker,” things will become a lot more fruitful.  An internship is a perfect way to market yourself.

So what’s it been like for me interning at Allebach Communications? It has been great, mostly due to the fact that I’m not getting paid.  Sounds funny doesn’t it?  It’s true though.  If I was getting paid, I’d have a lot of bad days here because I’d feel like I was wasting time understanding the learning curve.  Because I’m not getting paid, I don’t feel guilty at all trying news things even if I’m not good at them. My time here has been really valuable.  I’ve been able to sit in with both right and left brained people while at the same time figuring out what my strengths and weaknesses are.  There is definitely a difference between watching someone on YouTube telling you how to design an ad and having an expert sit five feet from you to tell you how to do it.

I know many people, including myself, are into the “self-teaching” methods of the Internet, but there’s something humbling and rewarding about silencing yourself and listening to the wisdom of others who probably know a lot more than you do.

My time at my internship has been and continues to be a great learning experience.  I encourage anyone who’s on the fence about starting one to get up and do it.  At the very least, you’ll learn if you don’t like something and save yourself from hating your future job.  But at the very most, you’ll find yourself learning things faster than you ever had before while also building a reputation for yourself.

-Matt Sharayko

Pandora: Radio Advertising Gets Real


Real-Time targeting capabilities push Pandora to the top of the charts.


There’s a good reason traditional broadcast radio is a valued part of most media plans year after year. It offers high reach, good targetability, and extraordinarily low costs compared to TV.

Now imagine having the ability to target each and every one of your radio listeners by age, gender, geographic location and specific songs they like, add response tracking and socialsharing, then top it all off with a visual display that can run digital ads along with your radio spots, no matter what type of digital device they’re listening on — web, mobile, web-enabled TV, even car audio systems (targeted by automobile make and model).

Audio, Video and Display Everywhere

Enter Pandora Online Digital Radio and their cross-platform ad programs. Delivering all of the above and more with pin-point accuracy, including web and mobile couponing and other customizable features — which is why we, as an agency, have begun recommending Pandora ad placement to our clients in addition to broadcast radio placement.

Here’s why:

Online radio reaches 86 million Americans aged 12+ per week an average of nearly 12 hours each.1

13-35 year-olds (including the difficult-to-reach Gen Y) spend as much time listening to online/streaming radio as traditional AM/FM.2

Of the top 20 online radio sources, Pandora captures 75% of
all listening sessions


Pandora’s popularity is reflected in mobile app downloads, where Pandora downloads lead Weather Channel downloads 2 to 1.4 Nearly half of all smartphone owners have downloaded Pandora:1 quite significant, as mobile use continues to grow across all age demographics and throughout all areas of life. “Being mobile and getting people while they’re on the go is a local advertiser’s holy grail,” says John Hilton, Pandora’s executive director of strategic partnerships. “Almost 70% of our users are listening through their mobile phones.”

With nationally or locally targeted radio bundles that include in-stream audio messages and optional Display Everywhere Banners that run on-web and on-touch via iPhone and Android, Pandora’s Audio Everywhere impacts customers from the moment they awaken (30% of U.S. populace use smart phones as alarm clocks, including 59% of 18-34 year olds1).

A Targeted Approach

Pandora serves ads to targeted users efficiently from every access point, delivering commercials when they’re creating stations, using site functionality like checking the song playlist, or interacting via touch on mobile phones: no wasted views or disengaged listeners. Regardless of the device they’re tuning in on, Pandora allows just one ad per 20-minute break, keeping attention focused on your client’s message. And unlike traditional radio, Pandora listener response can be measured instantly, from website click-throughs to coupon offer downloads.


Pandora’s targeting methods are thorough, to say the least. Take the birth year, zip code and gender required to register, add in the personal bios, song selections and linked Facebook and Twitter profiles Pandora encourages users to share, topped with third party data from Acxiom, Targus and Nielson, and there’s a wealth of information available for fine-tuning the specific audience your ads will reach.

Agreements with major automotive brands and aftermarket audio manufacturers allow ad delivery during in-car commutes, once broadcast radio’s exclusive domain.

John Hilton, executive director of strategic partnerships at Pandora, says Pandora’s ability to target advertising on a more granular level than conventional radio is the core of its value proposition for advertisers.5

And we couldn’t agree more.

With its list of nearly two dozen specific audience segments and sub-segments for advertisers to select from, ranging from household income and auto preferences to ethnicity, education levels and home and small business ownership, and a total of 65.9 million monthly unique users, now may be the perfect time to add Pandora to your media playlist presets, next to your “traditional radio” button.

It’s got a good beat, and you can dance to it.

By Scott Cooter

12013 Monthly Online Radio Audience Reaches Approximately 120 Million Americans
Source: Arbitron Inc. and Edison Research: The Infinite Dial 2013, Navigating Digital Platforms


3Source: Triton Digital based on average active sessions among the top 20 stations and networks in the U.S., Mon-Sun 6AM-Mid, January 2013

4Source: Pandora Internal Metrics, 2013



From Online Discovery to In-Store Experience

Shopper Info PieConsumer food brands often wrestle with effectively bridging the gap between online and in-store shoppers–most of the time over complicating the marketing process. It’s simple; most consumers discover your brand online, and then activate in-store.


Online/Mobile Shoppers

78% of all US shoppers go online to research and purchase products and services. This means they either discover, validate, and/or activate your brand online.

91% of consumers say that something they have done online has prompted them to visit a store. Email continues to be the biggest influence, with 60% of consumers being motivated to visit a store after receiving an email with a special price or promotion.

These same consumers are influenced with coupons, online ads, online circulars, social media, and organic and paid search.

So the strategy is simple, reach your consumers and influence them online first, and then drive them to a physical store. Easy.

In-Store Shoppers

Keep in mind that even though shoppers are in-store now, they are still connected. 71% of shoppers say that they want access to digital content in the store for price comparisons, product reviews, expert advice, and of course instant deals and savings.

Let’s connect some dots from online discovery to in-store purchase activation:

Recipes. Consumers love new recipes, and it’s a fact that they are loyal to brands that successfully link their products with recipes.

Interactive Displays. Online and mobile consumers love the digital, interactive experience. Meet them in-store with it.

Apps. Connect with your consumers at home, on the go, and in-store with apps.

Make it Personal. Reach your consumers with customized, personal digital advertising that aligns with their buying behavior.

Get Social. Meet your consumers where they are socializing and get engaged.

Blogging. 42% of shoppers are influenced by bloggers. Get serious about advancing your brand in the blogosphere.

QR Codes. It’s easy and the digital generation loves them. Use them on packaging, promotions, POS, and more.


One other thing to keep in mind, although shopper decisions are heavily influenced by online activity, 74% of consumers still make impulse purchases at the store level. In fact, browsing in a store is the #1 driver of impulse purchases.

 By Jamie Allebach

Data from 2012 Dimensional Research, December 2012 online consumer survey of shopping habits.

Reaching customers via cooking videos

It’s official: YouTube is now second to only Google itself in terms of search queries. Which only makes sense — when we want information about something, we Google it, but when we want to know how to use something or cook it properly, we visit YouTube to watch a video on the right way to do it.

Over a billion unique viewers visit YouTube every month, watching over 4 billion videos a day. And foodies use it just as much as anyone else,with the Food Network and Epicurious channels fast becoming two of the most popular YouTube food channels.

For food brands and manufacturers, the ever-increasing popularity of both cooking shows and video content creates many opportunities for creating brand followers. After all, what more convincing way to show customers how easy it is to prepare your products than to let them watch you do it in your own videos?

Since most food photography is shot in fully outfitted photo kitchens, perhaps the simplest way to ease into cooking videos may be during a packaging photo shoot or your website’s recipe page. Set up a video camera and tripod as your chef prepares the food, and have him or her keep talking about what they’re doing as they do it.

Keep in mind that high production values are not as critical initially as starting to build a following. Post videos to your website and to YouTube, and get the message out they’re available via eblasts, tweets and links. As your video library grows, consider creating a YouTube video channel like Kraft, Betty Crocker, and the Food Network have done.

Above all, remember that you’re the expert and chief cheerleader for your brand. The tone will come through in your videos.




By Scott Cooter

Seize the Mobile Opportunity

“Mobile is too big of an opportunity for retailers to not properly seize.” says Adam Lavine, CEO of FunMobility.  Mobile presents many strategic advantages for retailers to differentiate their brand, strengthen customer relationships and loyalty, and ultimately drive revenue.  While nearly 83% of the top retailers already provide a mobile offering, there are only one-in-three who actually provide all three platforms – mobile web, iOS and Android.

A recent post featured Chiquita’s big hit as they stepped into social media for the first time.  As part of their 2012 Summer FanFun Sweepstakes and partnership with Little League, they worked with FunMobility to create a multi-platform app. This encouraged consumers to check-in at their favorite retailers to participate in the sweepstakes, interact with games, make Little League baseball cards and ultimately connect more with the brand and the retailers carrying their product.

The platform for the app that backed the FanFun Sweepstakes, has since launched into a program called Mobile Retail Rewards, a new turnkey solution for retailers, CPG companies and brands.  Mobile Retail Rewards makes it possible for retailers to easily create apps on both platforms, as well as the mobile web, better capturing the attention of their audience. As stated in a fall press release by FunMobility, “The primary benefit of the new Mobile Retail Reward solution is that it provides an easy to manage platform through which ongoing location-based mobile campaigns and promotions can be deployed and optimized for the highest ROI.”

Mobile Retail Rewards advantages to retailers:

  • Promote retail sales and diminish showrooming
  • Incentivize customers with mobile sweepstakes, digital coupons and in-store unlocks
  • Drive foot traffic with mobile location-based check-ins and on site retail promotions
  • Branded mobile mini-games to motive and reinforce the desired user behaviors
  • Improve customer satisfaction through interactive engagement

“Mobile is transforming the retail experience,” said Levine, CEO of FunMobility. “We are already seeing the proliferation of smartphones in retail environments, and marketers recognize how mobile can connect with consumers in real-time and drive them to in-store locations to fight showrooming, build loyalty, and convert visits to sales.”

There are a number of mobile apps available, helping retailers keep in constant contact with consumers regarding special deals, promotions, packages and events, tailoring their messages for individual customers based on their previous buying habits.  With American consumers becoming increasingly more connected, why not seize the moment and take the opportunity to connect.

Reference: News Release, September 12, 2012, FunMobility Launches Mobile Retail Rewards Solution for Retailers, CPG and Brands

By Nancy Landis

2013 Shopper Marketing Summit Insights

As I look back at my notes from the Path to Purchase Institute’s Shopper Marketing Summit [] last week, I realize just how much there is to share. Rather than overwhelming you, I will provide a few bullets for you to think about.


  • Insights, insights, insights – An idea may be great, but without insights to support it, it won’t get any traction.
  • Relevance – Retailers are looking for relevance – they all want to provide the right content, at the right time, in the right channel.
  • Partnership – Retailers want to partner with CPG companies – as long as the insights support the idea and the idea is relevant.
  • Promotions – It’s no longer about those key events or holidays; taking occasion-based ideas to the retailer is a win-win.
  • Speed – Companies are going to be moving at the speed of light. Walmart is now producing 30 spots per week!
  • Concepts – The idea must come first. Long gone are the days of determining the channels and then following with the ideas to fit. The big idea is what is important, the channel is secondary.


I welcome additional thoughts and conversations. (I can be reached at


By Jennifer C. P. Scheel


Creating content beyond product information or promotion

As a brand, your digital presence is incredibly important. It should be a given that brands regularly post new content on their website and across all social media platforms. It keeps consumers informed, provides access to up-to-date information on your products and helps keep your presence on the web relevant (from  a search engine standpoint and to the consumer). Nothing is worse than going to a website to look up information and finding something incorrect or outdated, or going to a brand’s Facebook or Twitter page and seeing their last post was from 6 months ago.

In addition to continuing to push out information and promotional messages about your products, your brand should be posting content that is timely and relevant. Keep up with what is in the media and entertainment world and join in the conversations with consumers. Your website may not always be the best place for this, but your social media accounts sure are.

Using a content calendar to help coordinate is a great way to keep your website fresh and relevant. This can obviously be a calendar (Google Calendar, Outlook, iCal etc), or it can honestly just be a simple word document with a list of content ideas and general timing for them. Pencil in your brand’s promotions, new products and other news, and then fill in gaps where needed. Coordinate this across your website, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc wherever it would be necessary. (A general best practice would be to push out different messages across different platforms at different times. If there is a message that should be on all platforms and all at the same time, it should be phrased differently)


Here are some examples I found on a recent Mashable post showing how brands are using content calendars:

Oscar Mayer took advantage of their name to engage in the conversation during the Oscars:

Purina’s tweets were more about their brand than the event.

So it’s a great idea to plan ahead, come up with some post ideas or develop copy that would be appropriate for your brand, keeping in touch with big events and news: the keyword here is appropriate. (Keeping in mind that when you schedule posts or plan on posting something, a breaking news event can change the effect of that message entirely. Example : The NRA Tweet the day of the Newton Colorado shooting.)


By Andrew Dunlap



The Slow Death of RSS

On Monday of this week, Google announced that it would be ending the RSS service “Google Reader” which was a content aggregator that is still widely used by a very core group of enthusiasts. So if the audience is there and the service is being used then why would they go out of their way to upset a very loyal and vocal readership? In order to answer this I think we have to look at what RSS provides and what recent developments in technology have meant for the service.

RSS was always one of those things that everyone wanted to know about but few people really understood.  The way it works is you select an aggregator RSS service like Google reader.  You then subscribe to any RSS feeds of your choosing from various websites.  When the content was updated on the site, it would appear through your aggregator. People that championed the service liked to compare it to a television station that only got the channels you wanted.  Marketers loved it because it was a way to distribute content to people interested in your product or industry.  These are the elusive “evangelists” we’re always chasing.

RSS never really caught on in the same way that many social media services did that provide virtually the same service.  The Facebook News Feed and all of Twitter are basically just expansions of the content.  You choose what you like and content is fed to you from those sources.  Five years ago when you were developing a website with any sort of dynamic content, the first thing you did at the client’s behest was to make the content accessible to an RSS feed.  As a marketing tactic this bombed almost from the start. As much as a marketer wants to think that someone is so engaged in their brand they would want to have content fed to them in this manner, it just wasn’t realistic and the people never came.

Over the past 5 years Facebook and Twitter have replaced the RSS feed by offering essentially the same service, but in a less intrusive and more inviting fashion.  While I may not be interested in the latest press release from “Brand X”, I am more than willing to see what Brand X has to say on Twitter or Facebook.  So while RSS was instrumental in streaming content to willing recipients, the overall cumbersome format led to its slow death.

The demise has been a couple of years in the making.  Marketers jumped ship years ago, now everyone will slowly follow.


By Joey Piazza