Brand Loyalty Efforts
Key players in the granola bar industry are running campaigns on multiple social media platforms such as YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. The brands tend to communicate throughout the whole year with their followers, and take advantage of most festivities and celebrations to stay close to them. They use social media to advertise prize games, share recipes, tell their stories via videos, and keep offering new flavors to improve brand affinity and loyalty. Aside from Nature Valley, and private label brands, the three top granola bars brands are Quaker, Sunbelt Bakery and Kind.
The top 10 brands in the granola bar industry are Nature Valley, Nature Valley Sweet and Salty Nut, Quaker Chewy, private labels, Sunbelt Bakery, Kind Healthy Grains, Quaker Chewy Dipps, Kashi, Atkins and Cascadian Farm Organic. As per instructions not to include Nature Valley, this means that the next top three brands are Quaker Chewy, Sunbelt Bakery, and Kind Healthy Grains. Private labels represent brands that are sold by the supermarket themselves under their brand names and are not considered for this brief. Research will focus on the four main social media platforms, meaning YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Quaker Chewy is one the top granola cereal bars on the US Market with 14.4% of the total market. However, on social media, it does not have its own channel or own page, and feature under the main brand's name, Quaker. It only represents a very small fraction of Quaker products on social media, as the company mainly advertises its oatmeal products.
Quaker has a YouTube channel, which features three recent videos of their granola bar products, published within the last two years. The first video was added in April 2017, and portrays teenagers and children welcoming a new teenage neighbor, thus giving a feeling of belonging, and showing a pack of granola bars to associate this feeling with. The slogan for this campaign is "Break out the Good", and "A yummy snack that brings the crew together". This message sums up the intention of the brand to inspire goodness and a positive feeling towards it.
The second and third videos on Quaker's YouTube channel featuring granola bars have been added in March 2019, and advertise kid's bars. They are two versions of the same ad, with different duration, and simply show the product, without an important effort to tell a story.
Therefore, it can be concluded that Quaker has not used the YouTube platform in a major way to improve brand loyalty for their granola bars.
The Twitter page for Quaker does not feature posts about the granola bars of the brand. However, other Twitter pages feature them in partnership with the movie Transylvania 3. The brand has associated itself with the movie by featuring its characters in some of its packages. This could be an attempt of the brand to build loyalty with its clients base, by associating with a kid's movie, and therefore associating with a feeling of happiness.
Similarly, to YouTube, Quaker does not use its Twitter page extensively to promote its granola bars.
Quaker has a Facebook page, which only features a handful of posts regarding granola bars. The most recent one is a post from the 4th of March, which is aimed at kids, and highlights the fact that the Quaker granola bars are free from artificial flavors. Another post from the 3rd of January associates the brand with the holiday season, and its heavy food, to advertise the fact that granola bars are easy to digest. The brand chose to communicate during the winter holidays, when most people are not at work, to make itself a part of this family moment. In another strategy, posts from the 9th of April and 14th of May 2018 are aimed at people at work, offering them a treat to refuel, in the form of granola bars. Taken all together, these Facebook posts aim to build loyalty and affinity by showing that the granola bars are always there when people need them the most, whether it is at home with the family or at work.
Despite featuring only a few posts on Facebook related to granola bars, Quaker tries to associate the snack to good moments, at work or at home.
Out of a variety of recent publications posted on Quaker's Instagram page, only one is about granola bars, published on the 4th of March. It is aimed at kids, and is a short video that is also available on the YouTube channel.
The effort of building Quaker granola bars' brand loyalty on Instagram is weak, with very little content aimed at improving it.
Sunbelt Bakery is different from Quaker as it mainly makes granola bars. Therefore, its granola bars are well featured on social media platforms. It represents 5.6% of the market.
Sunbelt Bakery's YouTube channel includes 24 videos from the last two years, all of them advertising granola bars. Some of their videos feature music hits such as the song "ho hey" by the lumineers, with over 12 million views. This is one of their strategy to associate the brands with a song that is popular. Aside from the song, the theme of the video is "Share Fall Flavors", and the main message is to share the granola bars with a loved one, as well as spending time with family. The brand is improving its affinity by appealing to people's sense of family and their love for each other. This specific marketing video campaign was launched in August 2017.
Another campaign aimed at improving brand loyalty and affinity was launched in November 2017, highlighting the fact that the Sunbelt Bakery's granola bars are "freshly baked" and "preservatives-free". The campaign was relaunched with the same videos in February-March 2018. In these videos published on YouTube, the company's message is that its products are baked in a homely bakery, and therefore are fresh and appealing, and dispatched to stores every week, as if they had just come out of the oven. This gives a sense of familiarity with the product, as if bought from a local bakery.
From May 2018, with the arrival of summer, Sunbelt Bakery launched four short videos advertising different limited editions seasonal flavors. These are inspired from summer treats, such as coconut, key lime pie, and Lemon Meringue pie. They are advertised under the theme of "picnic flavors". The idea here is to convey the message to American clients, who like to picnic during summer, that the granola bars have taken their tastes into account, and that Sunbelt Bakery works to provide different flavors for different seasons. This range and reactivity is used to build brand loyalty and capture clients with various tastes.
The company has used their YouTube channel to convey the message that its products are freshly baked, free from preservatives and that they have seasonal flavors. Sunbelt Bakery has also used videos to emotionally connect with customers thanks to music.
Sunbelt Bakery have a Twitter page that was opened in 2009, with over 4,393 tweets and close to 31,000 followers. This platform has been used more actively than YouTube, featuring the following campaigns:
— "Bakery Fresh Friends"
— 4th July
— Valentine's Day
— Labor Day
The company communicates with its followers every time there is a national celebration, to stay close to them. It also uses this platform to share recipes, promote games with prizes, and get involved in discussions about sports. They try to participate and communicate about every facet of American life, be it sports, food preparation, celebrations or holidays.
Sunbelt Bakery has close to 400,000 followers on its Facebook page, and uses it in a similar way to Twitter to show that its granola bars can be a part of every moment of life, including summer, moments with kids, memorial day, spring, mothers day, etc... It is there to generate comments, and create a conversation.
Sunbelt Bakery's Instagram page includes the same photos published on Facebook or Twitter, with similar themes such as family, festivities, and health, that bring closer the brand with its consumers.
Kind Snacks is a brand similar to Sunbelt Bakery, as most of its products are granola bars. The company represents around 5.6% of granola bar sales in the US. In a similar way to Quaker and Sunbelt Bakery, they have a presence on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Kind Snacks has 29 recent videos on its YouTube channel, that are used to show the consumers that the company has a social good aspect to it, and that part of its mission is also to help others, build a community spirit, and create a positive movement. The videos are also used to explain where the name Kind came from, thus creating an intimacy and a connection with the consumer. Actresses and Vloggers are used to give a personal touch, and make the customer feel connected to the brand even more. Even the headquarters are shown in the video to increase the feeling of knowing the company.
The company has 472,000 followers on its Facebook page, which features a large range of posts. These feature articles on Forbes about how the company was founded, many photos and videos of granola bars, publications about partnerships with various charities, posts about initiatives to allow employees to vote, and posts associating moments such as having coffee with granola bars. The theme of a social company is well-used by Kind, even in its name to associate itself with a positive action, as in working with charities or giving time off to allow people to vote. Another theme is associating the granola bar with kids' meals.
The brand maintains a strong presence on Twitter with close to 17,000 tweets since its page was launched in 2009, and 73,500 followers. Kind has used Twitter to challenge food companies to be transparent about their content, thus siding with the consumer, which can increase its appeal as a brand that cares. It also uses Twitter to post promotion offers, and advertise the life of its founder.
Finally, Kind Snacks uses Instagram with 1,136 publications and 136,000 followers to advertise its many types of granola bars, but most importantly to show families, kids' meals and coffee. The message here is to portray the granola bar as part of the nice moments of a person, be it with their kid, with a coffee or at work. It also shows that the bar should be a part of kids' lives also, as part of their school lunch pack.