Chew on this: what food marketers can learn from TikTok

by Samuel Pordengerg Feb 4, 2023 News
Chew on this: what food marketers can learn from TikTok

It's something that we all agree on. All of us need to eat. All of us have our own preferences. It brings us together, but can tear us apart.

There aren't many places in the real world that show the depth of the cultural commentary of food.

Chefs are making ras el hanout and burned chili flavoured butter and the agents of chaos are making frankenstein meals with whatever's in their cupboard.

Many food brands fail to capitalise on the broader culture that exists around their product.

The top videos are not brand-led. People who are actively seeking out food trends, niche communities, new places to focus on and brands to share with their networks consume this content. Many food brands fail to take advantage of the culture surrounding their product. What's the reason? New rules are being applied to a game. What can marketers learn from foodtok.

The big winners are going to think about the following.

Above: #Foodtok comes in all shapes and sizes, including some amazing recipes.

Food brands spend a lot of time and money trying to perfect their images. TikTok has traditionally been a platform that subverts the polished, stain-free packaging of social media. We buy with our eyes, and we still want our food to make us want to lick the screen, but the brands who win will shift the perception of perfect food into weird and wonderful places.

Food is in all its messy glory, and it is as close to the real thing as possible.

There is a lesson to be learned from food photography.

Let others play with your food 

Food brands put in a lot of effort to find the perfect insight to craft the perfect message to show their brand in the best light possible. Real people don't interact with food like that. The people make their own food. They eat in the dark. They like to eat chips dipped in shakes, boiled eggs or crisps. You are aware of the information.

We’re seeing food in context, food in all its messy glory, and food that is as close to the real thing as possible. 

The new world of food marketing is about giving up control and embracing the way people use your product. The two companies collaborated on showing new ways to use the sauce. Sometimes it's as simple as a co-sign in the comments section, as Dorito's did on a recipe for "Dorito chicken." It is an example of giving control of the environment to the people.

It is time to let go of your perfect self.

Above: When it comes to TikTok, playing with your food can be a good thing.

We forget to show the fun of the journey when we show finished products. The steps that lead to the meal are just as important as the steps that lead to the first bite. When we order water, they know what we are doing. If you want to cut through, you need to use your food to tell different stories.

There’s as much to be savoured in the steps that get you to the meal; the fails, the blunders.

You should consider other parts of your food story.

Above: Food TikToker Underrated Hijabi has collaborated with Tabasco.

From food communities to wider worlds

Food brands who can find new communities to play in will get points on TikTok. The audience is moving between identities and passions and will need to find a way to intersect with cult foods and eating habits. If you want to give a free taco to the UK over Christmas, think about the source filmmakers.

The lesson is to find new places to live.

Old marketing can be done well. Foodtok shows us that audiences respect brands that try new things and that they have fun with it. The world is a heavy place and we need to remember that we are selling food. Try a trend and have a laugh at the same time. You can learn what works for you.

What foodtok shows us is that audiences respect and seek out those that have fun.

Wendy's has brought their signature to TikTok and is experimenting with how far they can go with it. Testing and learning will be a lot less scary if you understand your brand's principles.

You don't know until you try. You might find something new that works for you if you try new things.

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