Discovering Regional Food Marketing Differences with Social Listening

Kimberly Surico |
 02/15/21 |
5 min read

Discovering Regional Food Marketing Differences with Social Listening

Regional differences can make a world of difference to a brand, and food offers a ready example of these differences in action. Social monitoring will tell you tons about your brand, but you’ll want to be sure you’re tracking mentions consumers are making in the language they’re using. And social media analytics helps you understand and track that language across geographies.

Let’s talk about some of these regional differences, we’ll go over:

  • Why regional differences are critical to marketing
  • Successful advertising targeting your desired audience
  • The consumer journey and using influence to persuade

And these are supporting stats to consider as we discuss regional brand/consumer interaction:

  • Over 40% of consumers say they prefer ads targeted to their interests – making relevant speech critical to effort
  • 76% of marketers don’t use behavioral data for online ad targeting, missing out on revenue

5 steps to building a successful social analytics program

Tracking Regional Differences

Whether a consumer uses Y’all or You Guys is completely dependent on where they’re from, and likewise how they refer to common products such as soda versus pop. It’s entirely crucial to understand these variances if you hope to hit your target audience with messaging that resonates.

Analyzing information by geographical location data can help you:

  • Measure your market share globally
  • Understand the success of a campaign across different regions
  • Pinpoint customer service issues related to a specific location
  • Refine your targeted advertising and location-based marketing
  • Track location-based events in real time
  • Discover regional trends
  • Identify influencers located in specific areas.

Having the right social media analytics tool, such as NetBase, enables you to view and filter location data by continent, country, region and city. You can even dial it in further by analyzing geo-tagged tweets down to the street level, identifying variances in speech.

No matter where you plan on campaigning, it’s critical your message rings true. This is something Coors learned the hard way when they used their phrase “turn it loose” in Spain. It wasn’t until later that they realized their messaging translated to “get diarrhea.”

You don’t want to make cultural/demographic assumptions and deal with the blowback of campaign messaging gone awry. Which is why your brand can benefit from social media monitoring, avoiding any unnecessary PR crises. Additionally, 40.5% of consumers say they prefer targeted ads – so if you’re not getting niche with them already, it’s time to start.

Creating Targeted Advertising

76% of marketers fail to use behavioral data for online ad targeting. This means they’re not capturing regional differences in speech, such as sprinkles vs jimmies.

And subtle differences in regional vernacular can equal big impacts when it comes to advertising. As an example, our timeline comparison below shows talk around both Sprinkles and the New England term for them, Jimmies. Here there’s a lot of difference outside of terminology:


Sprinkle mentions are higher in count and much more even-keeled when compared to Jimmies erratic behavior of spikes and dips. And the latter has fewer potential impressions as well. Does this mean that a campaign focused on this fun-colored ice cream accessory would fair better in areas where the term Sprinkles is the chosen vernacular? Answering this can be difficult without social listening as we need to understand how consumers are talking about it and specific ways to message out to audiences.

Let’s take Gravy, for example. A quick search using Geofencing within social monitoring allows us to drill down to the street level, identifying not just country, but city and street. Here, Gravy is referred to as “red” or tomato gravy:


Using this knowledge of difference in definitions, we can sort our search by “red” and “brown” gravy. Our word clouds below are filtered to show brands how consumers are talking about each and who is dominating conversations:


There’s an obvious difference in how consumers see each one. Brown gravy is attributed quite largely to KFC. Where Red Gravy is more often attributed to a dish, giving us context clues into how it’s being used. Clicking on chicken curry brings us to this post using the word gravy as a descriptor in an Indian dish:


This is critical, had a brand assumed that gravy described a turkey topping or Italian version, they might have missed out on a whole demographic they could be marketing to.

And nailing the terminology is critical, no matter what you’re marketing. Maybe it’s milkshakes. That’s how we describe and ice cream-based drink, right? Not if you’re in New England…


In New England, frappe is the common way to refer to what most of us know as a milkshake. And to confuse things a bit more, milkshakes in a Bostonian’s world, is chocolate milk.

How can one keep up? Connecting with influencers can help brands keep better tabs on local markets.

Identifying Local Influencers

Subs, Hoagies and Po-Boys are sometimes used interchangeably, though locals from each location would argue they are very different. Focusing on Po-Boys we can drill down into our map and find that Louisiana has the largest share of posts with Texas coming in second.


And pulling posts from the sound bites visible to the right, we find a passionate social media user calling out someone’s sandwich that clearly didn’t meet Po-boy criteria:


Speaking even louder are the number of re-tweets and potential impressions. This isn’t a one-sided story anymore – others agree. You can only hope it’s not your brand on the other end, particularly if it’s a Po-boy drama brewing and you don’t have social media monitoring on-point to head it off!

When these bumps in the road happen, bridging the gap with a brand influencer can help you get back on track. The idea behind influencer marketing is to have them act as advocates for your brand. And to help you stay on top of regional differences.

For example, if you’re Coca-Cola, searching for Coke is going to produce posts that may not be specific to you in certain regions. When we search the hashtag #soda using social listening, we find this popular drink-driven Instagram account:


With 42K people tuning in to her curated drinks, she’s a great “soda” advocate to share different ways to use Coke brand soda and keep that regional reference locked down for whatever brands she partners with. We can do the same for “pop” – where we, once again, find a Coca-Cola lover, interestingly enough:


Seems Coca-Cola offers its own case study in capturing regional mentions of its brand! Your brand can hit the target every time as well, with the right social media monitoring tools. Reach out for a demo and expand your messaging impact with social listening that recognizes the subtle nuances between geographies.

5 steps to building a successful social analytics program

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