Agencies’ Campaign Strategy Secrets: StarKist Culturally Connecting with Consumers 

Connecting culturally hinges on understanding important takeaways around “why”- through accurate, transparent next-generation AI-powered social listening. Here, we’ll delve into one of the sessions from our recent NetBase Quid LIVE 2020 event for insights into agencies’ campaign strategy secrets and how StarKist used social listening to culturally connect with consumers.

We’ll briefly touch on a few of the highlights below, with a focus on:

  • Connecting with your audience through shared social responsibility
  • Social listening for flavor profiles and to create packaging that resonates
  • AI for actionable insights into consumers’ interests

And here are a few stats relevant to the conversation:

  • Social listening is a goldmine for consumer intel as 69% of the U.S. population is on social media and spends more than two hours daily on various channels.
  • Packaging plays a crucial role in your product’s appeal. On purchasing a specific product, 85% say that color was the primary reason, and 80% believe that color makes a brand more recognizable.
  • Consumers are increasingly eco-conscious, and social listening can help brands build and maintain cultural connections. For example, 45% of Gen Z’rs will prioritize sustainability over cost.

With that, let’s jump in and look at some market intelligence in action.

Agency Pitches

Connecting Through Shared Social Responsibility

StarKist is the number one brand of tuna in the U.S. and is fast approaching a 50% share of the tuna market. They’ve been in business for over one hundred years, and their commitment to social listening and innovation is keeping the brand fresh in the digital age.


And what’s kept them ahead of the curve is their ability to adapt and align with shifting sentiment. And they’ve been doing it long enough to be a tradition – they were the first company to adopt a dolphin-safe policy back in 1990.

They’re a company hip to the top-of-mind trends of consumers, and they’ve employed active social listening to get there. And their company vision reflects their desire “[to be] a socially responsible company that empowers people to live a healthy lifestyle.”


And they back it up. StarKist picks up on the cues that social media users have been putting down and innovating off of the intel. Of course, they’re still leaning on their ever-popular canned tuna, but over the last few years have introduced their “Tear, Eat & Go” single-serve pouches, experiencing broad success. The messaging around the pouches promotes portability and convenience, and they’ve added salmon and chicken choices to the tuna menu.

Everything from the packaging and colors to its flavor profiles were built off of the actionable intelligence gained from savvy market research.

Social Listening to Renew Flavor Profiles 

StarKist partners with 113 Industries to form a social listening strategy that captures consumer behaviors and need using NetBase Quid. And the aim, of course, is to create products and innovations that resonate with consumers. Among the many potential innovations discussed, their use of social listening to develop flavor profiles is an excellent example of the creative possibilities.

Social listening revealed that the growth of diversity and cultural influences were creating more adventurous consumers looking to experiment with ethnic and spicy flavors. So, StarKist took that information and began renovating some flavor lines that weren’t selling well.

Using terms that resonated with consumers online, such as wild-caught, protein and bold, StarKist introduced their ‘bold’ line and totally revamped the packaging. The contents of the three products below did not change, but the packaging, built on social insights, gave the products renewed life and a significant sales spike.


Of course, with the onset of COVID-19 last year, consumers were stretched thin, both creatively and financially, when it came to eating behaviors. With that in mind, StarKist launched their StarKist Creations Microwavables to meet the needs of consumers who were quickly running out of meal ideas and required economical options. It’s been a super successful endeavor and also expounds on the changing flavor profiles found in their market research.


AI for Actionable Insights

Social media and influencers have changed the landscape when it comes to how brands reach consumers. And AI dials in to the vastness of online to return targeted and actionable insights that move the needle in the right direction.

But once you’ve identified emerging trends, where do you go from there?

StarKist also discovered that nearly 50% of U.S. consumers adhered to a particular diet and that over 40% have intolerances or sensitivities that influence the way they shop for food. With their shopper trends and product attributes under their belt, the only thing left to do was connect to the consumers with whom they’d resonate.

And they did this using AI-powered social listening to:

  • Implement contextual targeting to identify and connect with shoppers showing a high affinity towards diet programs.
  • Use purchase-based targeting capabilities to reach consumers through mobile & desktop avenues and drive traffic to their sites.
  • Employ off-packaging attributes to syndicate to retailers engaged in “Lifestyle Shopping.”

And their market research revealed social media users to target who were interested in diet programs like Paleo, Keto and Weight Watchers talking about tuna. When the research was done, they went into action on a new keto-focused partnership with Lindora.


It’s insights like these that open doors for new influencer campaigns and product placements to start spreading the word and moving into new segments.

Is your brand maximizing its brand attributes and growing your consumer connections? There’s a lot more to the actionable insights that StarKist has discovered through social listening that you don’t want to miss. And we invite you to head over and listen to the full session for yourself. Be sure to reach out for a demo when you’re done to maximize your social listening in 2021.

And if you missed our NetBase Quid LIVE 2020 virtual event back in November, we’ve got your back. All of our sessions hosted by industry-leading speakers are available on-demand, so you don’t miss out on all the great examples of social listening fueled market research in action. Be sure to check them out!

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