Food Marketing: what it is, how to do it, and useful examples

Food Marketing is the set of digital promotion activities, sales, and communication strategies that help to increase the sale of products and services and the visibility of a brand in the food sector.

There is no better country than Italy to analyze and understand food marketing. Ours is a culture that has built a true aesthetic (and ecstatic) relationship with food. For this reason, it is very easy to apply and undergo communication techniques in the food field: played so strongly on the involvement of the senses and the direct engagement of users, it is, as it were, a matter of feeling!

Digital Strategy, Content Marketing, and Social Media Managing are just some of the areas that are now indispensable for an industry that has to deal with a customer base that demands more and more attention, information, entertainment, and interaction. Is it therefore worth learning more about them? I would say absolutely yes.

As you read on, you will understand:

  • What is meant by Food Marketing
  • Why Digital Marketing is important in the food sector
  • How to promote a food product or service
  • What is a food marketing strategy that works

I will then tell you about 3 noteworthy examples of Food Marketing that you can take inspiration from to start devising a winning communication campaign.

If, in the meantime, you have already realized that the way to advertise your food business is not so simple and requires excellent Digital Marketing knowledge, I suggest you improve your skills with the Digital Marketing Specialist certification course.

What is Food Marketing

Food Marketing is the set of strategies aimed at promoting, sponsoring, and increasing the notoriety of brands operating in the food sector.

This includes the use of traditional and, above all, digital tools and channels. The objective is to create a meeting point with buyer personas, i.e. ideal customers who have a specific interest in food or have a need that a certain product or service can fulfill.

In Italy, food is to all intents and purposes synonymous with family, home, and sharing… The tradition and culture of food are undoubtedly one of the fundamental pillars of our country. In short, I am not just talking about a simple course at a restaurant, but a real experience that binds people together.

The mission of Food Marketing is precisely to make people live the same ‘home and family’ experience also online or outside the walls of their homes (e.g. by ordering that particular food on home delivery platforms).

what is food marketing

According to some marketing experts, the food sector is increasingly digital. Several large retail chains allow, thanks to e-commerce and dedicated apps, online shopping, and home delivery at preferred times of the day. Small online stores such as wine shops, breweries, and organic and vegan food brands are also moving to make the most of the Internet to sell their products.

The digital food sector is growing considerably because it offers convenience, comfort, and efficiency to people who have less and less time to go shopping and cooking.

All marketing strategies that lead consumers to buy a product online, to choose a food brand, a restaurant, or even an online home delivery site, have as their first objective to create a strong identity and a set of values and characteristics with which consumers can identify.

Before I tell you how to implement a food marketing plan and business strategies, I will explain what the benefits are:

  • Developing brand awareness, the awareness of the existence of a solution to a problem and the existence of a brand that can solve it;
  • consolidate brand reputation through good strategies and advertising campaigns;
  • enhancing products, differentiating and highlighting them from the competition;
  • strengthen the consumer’s loyalty process so that they continue to choose the product in the future;
  • expand your target audience by making yourself known and capturing the attention of potential customers;
  • increase turnover through the presence of a wider audience and the use of effective digital strategies.

Who does Marketing in Food

Once you understand what is meant by Food Marketing, it is good that you also know which professionals work in this sector. Food marketers, as they are called, must be able to coordinate all the activities involved in the launch of a product or service and its subsequent sale. Their main objectives are to ensure a meaningful shopping experience for consumers, to increase turnover, and to foster company innovation processes, such as company digitization.

Today, the experts most in demand for creating communication strategies in the food sector are those with knowledge of economics, marketing, and digital. Depending on the specialization, one can distinguish managerial or freelance profiles that are also very different from each other and, consequently, with different skills.

Here are some of them:

  • Social Media Manager manages social and advertising on company channels. This management includes numerous macro-tasks, including planning, strategy and goal setting, brand awareness development and online reputation management, digital content creation, inbound traffic generation, lead generation, community management, and page moderation;
  • Web Marketing Specialist is a key figure because he coordinates and manages all digital resources. On him depend most of the actions that lead a company to become strongly digitized. He works online, mainly on search engines, websites, and landing pages. He must know and apply SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) best practices and do display advertising. Must use all web analytics tools and translate data into useful information to correct current strategies or initiate new ones;
  • Digital Marketing Specialist, is a professional who must be able to study a digital strategy by translating it into a digital operational plan using all the tools made available on the web. His task is also to coordinate a specialized staff of digital professionals, assessing when, how, and the best strategies to promote and spread the brand identity;
  • Marketing Manager is the management figure responsible for marketing and communication. He/she establishes Food Marketing strategies and company policy guidelines, coordinating all offline and online activities of those working in the sector. He/she is responsible for market analyses, advertising, and strategies to optimize product sales so that everything is consistent with the company’s objectives.


How to Implement a Food Marketing Strategy

The only way you can satisfy your customers’ needs is to have excellent food marketing strategies.

Always start by doing a careful analysis of the market. Any strategy needs an action plan that can be put in place right from the start by studying your target market well and which competitors you will face.

When setting up a food strategy, you always have to consider different elements to include, but above all, any channel can spread your message. The most used channels nowadays for food, and those that guarantee the best results, are online.

Regardless of the specific sector and the products they sell, all businesses should do digital communication.

Below are 6 steps to create an effective plan for your Digital Food Marketing project.


Define brand identity and target audience

In the food industry, it is said that ‘everyone is seen but few are remembered’. Work early on to define your target audience and build your food identity, it must be clear and well-defined. An effective visual identity is what allows you to get noticed, to clearly communicate who you are and how you can help your potential customers, and to differentiate and customize your products.

How do you develop a brand identity?

  • Choose a logo that can express the corporate concept and communicate the values of your food company;
  • define a pay-off, a short phrase placed below the logo, that represents you and expresses your identity. It must be convincing and easy to remember so that customers immediately associate your company name as soon as they read it;
  • identifies an exclusive brand color palette. It is said that first impressions are what counts! The colors of your food brand are the first thing customers see. Choose a palette of two or three colors and use them on all your communication channels.

If you can implement a good Food Marketing strategy, differentiate yourself and impress through your brand identity, you can influence your customers, who in turn will recognize, remember and talk about you.

The audience is the group of people to whom your food products and services are addressed. How do you define your target audience? By considering:

  • demographic data are the criteria used to describe a specific part of the population. Examples of demographic data are age, gender, income, marital status, occupation, education;
  • location, you can narrow down your audience based on geography or location. You can select neighborhoods, cities, provinces, or countries;
  • psychographic data, these are more difficult to identify, as they are more relevant to their personality. Some examples are interests and activities, attitudes, and opinions.


Create a well-maintained website

The website is not just an online platform for making oneself known and providing information. It is first and foremost a showcase that aims to welcome more and more visits and more and more users.

Taking care of the graphical interface of a website or blog, and making it attractive and convincing through content marketing is, therefore, an essential step in attracting new people.

However, this is not enough, websites and blogs must also be well-positioned on search engines. This helps to collect many visits and contacts that can turn into a source of income. It is therefore important to create interesting content that is optimized for search engines.

Doing SEO is one of the main actions in a Food Marketing plan because:

  • makes your site visible and helps it rank well in search results;
  • makes it possible to intercept people at the very moment when they need a certain product or service


Do Storytelling

When it comes to food, the absolute best strategy is to tell a story. Storytelling is a super effective communication method, as it transports the user into a fairy tale but extremely close to his or her everyday life. In Italy, as I have already told you, food is above all an emotion and it is this emotion that companies must focus on to win over their customers.

This is why Food Marketing is not only about satisfying people’s physiological demands and needs but also about focusing on their interests. It is only by analyzing the strong relationship between people and food that it will be possible to implement the right strategies to encourage them to meet.

do storytelling strategy

Starting from this assumption, one can already understand the difficulty in creating advertising campaigns in the food sector capable of arousing emotions other than those purely related to sight. The difficulty increases even more when you consider that consumers today are much more demanding when it comes to food. They are constantly looking for food brands that can give them a positive experience in terms of both taste and emotion.

The objective of storytelling is to help engage, intrigue and bring to mind similar situations experienced on a personal level.


Promote your business online

Having reached this point, you probably want to know more precisely how to do Food Web Marketing in practice, right?

There you go! The steps are, once again, 6:

  • SEO to position you in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages);
  • SEM, i.e. paid marketing activities aimed at generating traffic and intercepting customers;
  • Social Media Marketing is useful for raising awareness and building your community;
  • E-mail marketing for lead nurturing and customer retention;
  • Influencer Marketing to boost brand awareness;
  • Inbound Marketing to promote your sales channels.


Local Search

According to Google’s estimates, more and more users use Local Search to find out what activities are available in their area, and about 73 percent of online activities come from geo-localized searches.

Do you have a local business? Claim or create your own Google My Business tab for proper geolocalisation. The opportunities and benefits of these ‘local searchers’ are to optimize contact information to set up a proper Local SEO strategy. The Google My Business tab is crucial for Google’s Local SERP and is perfect for attracting and bringing in new customers.

To further enhance your restaurant’s visibility in local searches, implementing targeted local SEO for restaurants can drive more diners to your location. This strategy focuses on optimizing your presence on maps and local directories, crucial for attracting foot traffic and online reservations.


Ask for reviews and monitor reputation

Speaking of Google My Business, Google reviews are important for increasing trust in your brand. They are an important, if not essential, Food Marketing activity. They contain some microdata such as star ratings, prices, or some contact information about your company that are shown in the search results and increase the chance of attracting visitors to your site.

To improve your online reputation, I recommend:

  • ask your customers to leave a review;
  • always respond in a timely manner;
  • do not run away from a mistake. Take the time to respond to negative reviews;
  • try to avoid discussions. In case it happens, move the discussion to private.

Facebook page reviews are also a quick and easy way for people to star-rate the page you manage and read the reviews of others. Reviews thus allow you to attract new users interested in your food business and let them find out more about your company.

Digital Food Marketing: 3 examples for inspiration

I will soon tell you about some food companies that have implemented successful Digital Food Marketing strategies. These are just some of the food companies that have used their social media as tools to spread knowledge, tastes, trends, and sensations to promote their food product.

What is increasingly rewarding is storytelling and the ability to communicate in a simple, direct manner, providing useful information to the target audience. Cultivate relationships, arouse curiosity, suggest and propose dishes, make the mouth water, and tell food stories and products on social networks. And perhaps make room for creativity and new communication formats.

Social channels are by far the most effective way to interact with users and get feedback from them. If you are wondering what is an example of successful food marketing, read on in the next paragraphs because I will present you with the case of 3 food brands that you can take inspiration from!

Food Discovery

Foodscovery is the first digital food platform that allows you to buy authentic local products online, directly from small Italian artisanal producers. The brand’s mission is that of searching for hidden food and wine treasures throughout Italy, defending local biodiversity and culinary traditions.

The Instagram feed is a veritable hymn to products of excellence, niche products, and products made by those producers whose work today enhances small productions and unique handicrafts.

The real challenge won by this company was to have brought the world of social media into small Italian artisan workshops, spreading knowledge, culture, and excellence thanks to a winning social media strategy.

Santa Margherita Wines

There are not many Italian wine companies that are using social by exploring new forms of social media marketing. For example, Santa Margherita Wines stands out for its excellent use of digital storytelling, influencer marketing, and digital PR.

Looking at their Instagram page, for example, one can see the excellent use of food storytelling, with great visual impact, to promote the wines.

italian wineries

The campaigns always aim to tell the story of the combination of different grape varieties used to make a particular wine, associated with everyday moments to engage, intrigue, and bring people’s minds back to similar situations experienced on a personal level.

In addition, an important collaboration with influencers and testimonials stands out, visible both on the company’s IG profile and in the profiles of the individual creators. This is a very useful communication strategy to make the brand known and positively influence the purchasing decisions of the target audience.

Digital PR includes all those online activities that are used to promote a brand, an event, a project, a product, or oneself. In the world of food and many other sectors, these create a relationship between the brand and potential customers.

An example of digital PR in the field of food marketing is the ‘capsule collection’ campaign dedicated to FC Inter, created by Santa Margherita Wines. Scrolling through the Instagram feed, you can see extensive use of influencer marketing strategies; the interview with Fabio Galante, to name but one example, bears witness.

Barilla Social Restaurant

Digital innovation influences all fields of action of today’s companies. A prime example of food marketing and corporate innovation is undoubtedly that of Barilla. The very famous brand, a symbol of Italy in the world, recently opened the Barilla Social Restaurant in Manhattan.

The Social Restaurant shows itself to potential customers with an all-digital outfit. The idea of creating a social and interactive restaurant as part of the digital transformation of the company puts its customers at the center and establishes continuous contact with them.

One of the main ingredients of the brand’s communication is edutainment, an expression born from the fusion of two terms: educational and entertainment. An educational entertainment aimed at transmitting its values and participating in the life of the territory outside the restaurant.

What catches the eye of customers and passers-by in Herald Square is in fact a large digital and interactive shop window equipped with the latest Microsoft technology, which also interfaces with the world-famous TripAdvisor.

The initiative is part of the digital transformation. Barilla is aware that digitalization has become as fundamental an objective as business objectives in the food sector.

We believe that technology can help us offer increasingly relevant and memorable experiences and that this can become a real factor in the choice of Barilla restaurants – (Chiara Pisano, Marketing Head of Barilla Restaurant).<

Conclusions and strategic advice

The world of food marketing is constantly evolving. Food goes from being a simple physiological need to being an expression of oneself, one’s lifestyle, and daily experiences. Companies will therefore have to change their communication codes, going online and experimenting with a new website and blog content.

But above all, they will have to implement new and increasingly innovative digital strategies to talk and interact with their audience.

In this reading, I have explained which online channels you will need to use to make your Food Marketing strategy effective.

Now that you know how important it is, don’t let this opportunity pass you by requesting a free consultation with one of our experts, and start your online communication plan today.

If you want to find out more about the world of digital marketing and find out about all available courses, ask for more information!



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