For food, consumers dig into traditional media

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Traditional channels are still important to consumers hungry for food news and information, according to a study from Hunter Public Relations

NEW YORK — Although social media is where foodies post photos of their favorite dishes, consumers still turn to traditional sources in droves for their food news and information, according to research released Tuesday by Hunter PR.

The newly released data, drawn from Hunter’s 2013 Food News Study, revealed that consumers largely use TV, newspapers, books, and magazines to search for general food information, nutrition facts, and recipes.

For general food news, 59 percent of the 1,002 online survey participants said they look to TV for general news, followed by 45 percent for both newspapers and websites, and 33 percent for magazines.

While websites reign supreme as a source for nutritional information (45 percent), TV and magazines registered 35 percent, and books and cookbooks were cited by 25 percent of respondents.

Websites are also the go-to source for recipes (57 percent), but books and cookbooks closely follow with 56 percent of people turning to them first, followed by 48 percent who prefer magazines.

The study also identified six consumer segments with different behaviors and media-consumption habits: traditionalists (29 percent), media averse (23 percent), TV-focused (14 percent), non-social Web surfer (14 percent), social entertainment seeker (12 percent), and multimedia foodie (7 percent).

The research also revealed what is important to each segment in terms of food and media. Traditionalists, mainly comprised of Gen Xers and Baby Boomers, turn mostly to newspapers for food facts (66 percent). They also leverage digital media, with 45 percent going to websites for nutrition info and 15 percent using social channels.

The report also found that young consumers are in no way one-dimensional. Although people think of them as consuming media the same way, "what the study dimensionalizes is that they have different motivations," explained Samara Mormar, SVP of insights and strategy at Hunter.

For example, non-social websurfers, who are information-oriented and fact-based when scowering the Web, do not use the Internet for social media or a sense of community like social entertainment seekers, who are mainly young Gen-Y moms, she added. Non-social websurfers, who are mostly women and do the majority of the cooking and shopping in the household, are the least loyal to national vs. store brands (18 percent).

Grace Leong, managing partner at Hunter, said insights such as these give food marketers an opportunity to engage consumers by showing them that a particular brand has more to offer through equity PR campaigns or social cause work.

Similarly, Leong added that nearly a quarter of consumers, mainly men, are media-averse and have little to no interest in nutrition information, food news, or eating healthy, which is a challenge and an opportunity for food marketers.

Another key insight from the segmentation study is that brand websites, particularly for traditionalists, are the number one source for trusted information. Leong said that PR professionals should counsel their food brand clients on the importance of their websites as a go-to source for consumers. She noted that brands need to populate their portals with quality content and make sure their own channels are part of their content-marketing strategies.

The study was conducted in partnership with Libran Research and Consulting. Hunter PR is planning to release its 2014 Food News Study in December.

This article first appeared on prweek.com.

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