StampedeCon 2012 – Kraft Food’s Frank Cotignola on Understanding Consumer Behavior

St. Louis, MO – StampedeCon 2012 – Kraft Food’s Frank Cotignola presented Using Social Media Conversations and Search to Understand Consumer Behavior. His bio reads

As part of Kraft Food’s CIS (Consumer Insight and Strategy Group), Frank focuses on three key areas: (1) Global Analytics; (2) Social Media Listening and Measurement, and; (2) Community Management and Knowledge Sharing. He also authors the Kraft “Randomness” blog, which focuses on digital and analytic topics. His efforts to develop both free and paid listening platforms and insights have led to the integration and usage of such research into traditional “asking” research and shopper insights at the company.

Throughout the presentation there were zero mentions (or very few) of searching for the “brand” instead he discussed searching for relevant terms. Using twitter and or Facebook to identify sentiment about dessert, cookies, and hot peppers and Pinterest to see the pinned recipes. He highlighted two factors that make this such a powerful tool.

First is immediacy. There is practically no wait to see what people are talking about. Twitter and Facebook bring never-ending streams of information directly to him. Instead of waiting for survey results or “going out to talk to people” many queries can be done within an hour. Second is cost. It is ostensibly free.

An additional benefit is being able to gauge response – desserts typically elicits a positive response whereas snacking is something considered a need.  Hot peppers presented an interesting variable – in North America the popularity of hot peppers peaks in mid-summer.  Being Kraft Foods something like this is invaluable, allowing them to see when they should release a new flavor or when they might release an ad campaign or special.

One of the takeaways, for me, was that many businesses are missing the benefits that come from social media are focusing solely on their brand sentiment.  Kraft seems to have figured out one of the largest benefits of social media and search as well. It is not necessarily about the brand at all.  Many times, in the food industry certainly, the discussion is not necessarily about the brand itself.  Using what customers are talking about nationally and globally Kraft is able to glean insights from the chatter and can use that to plan for products in the near-future.


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