The main purpose of the report is to recommend a social media marketing strategy for ACC Wholesale in its endeavor to introduce a new healthy beverage to college students. The report starts with a brief overview of the company, its past performance, intended target audience, and internal and external environmental factors that can influence social media marketing decisions and processes in the planned project.
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It is identified that target consumers for the product launch are technologically savvy and like to enjoy extra product and brand values. Therefore, it is suggested for ACC Wholesale to combine the informational and transformational marketing strategy in order to create entertaining, educational, captivating, and relevant content that would boost brand and product awareness and increase customer loyalty. The strategy would be implemented organically by using such tactics as clustering, co-creation, incentivizing, and monitoring. The strategy evaluation approach and estimated budget are briefly discussed at the end of the report.
ACC Wholesale is a family-owned business launched in 1937 by John Huckabee (ACC Wholesale). Initially, it specialized in selling cigars but, over time, its product line has expanded to sweets, drinks, health and beauty aids, snacks, and so forth. The company intends to introduce a new product – a healthy drink “Blendo” targeted specifically at college students. The purpose of this report is to develop an effective social media marketing plan for ACC Wholesale in order to foster greater demand for Blendo.
The population of college students is comprised of younger individuals, between the ages of 18 and 35, who are frequently referred to as “Generation Y” or “Millennials.” They are characterized as a technologically-savvy generation and the largest consumer group in the United States with a substantial influence on the food industry (M&M Sales). The target consumer group for Blendo is highly diverse in terms of multicultural features. They can come from disparate ethnical and racial backgrounds, have different upbringing and economic status, and so forth. Besides a common engagement in studying and college life, their interests may vary significantly as well.
Nevertheless, it is observed that a lot of young individuals, including those attending colleges, prefer natural food and beverage options promoting health (M&M Sales). Moreover, millennials value social justice; frequently advocate for favorable political, cultural and social changes; and appreciate personal attention (West Midland Family Center). These characteristics indicate that they make like to engage with brands and organizations, build meaningful relationships with them, influence their culture and product development activities.
The food and beverage industry, including the snack business, is experiencing steady growth globally. According to a report by FMCG and Retail, snack sales grew by US $3.4 billion worldwide in 2017, while total sales in this sector in the United States equated US $ 750.56 million that year. It is suggested that the increase in sales is driven mainly by consumers’ willingness to pay more for a single product rather than buying more products (FMCG and Retail).
It means that customers tend to value quality more than affordability and convenience and agree to pay extra for a thing that meets a greater range of their interests. A few of the major consumer preferences and interests pertaining to food today are healthy eating, as well as sustainable and local food choices (RSM US LLP). Consumers pay attention not only to how their food is produced and which ingredients it contains but also by whom it is made. It is clear that by using advanced information technologies, present-day consumers can research all information about brands relatively easily and they demand more transparency from enterprises.
Previously, ACC Wholesale primarily focused on sales of candies and snacks that had classical tastes and traditional ingredients. At the same time, merely a few healthy products were included in its portfolio, which indicates that health and sustainability are not primary values in ACC’s culture. Throughout the years of its existence, the company worked with “hospitals, hotels, schools, colleges, golf clubs, drug stores, restaurants, bottle shops, and snack bars throughout the Metro Atlanta area” (ACC Wholesale). Thus, it is valid to say that the company has knowledge of customers’ specific needs in different types of settings and organizations.
ACC Wholesale has a presence on such platforms as Instagram and Facebook. Nevertheless, its social media activity is currently extremely low, while its overall online marketing strategy may be deemed ineffective. The main problems are that the company does not use social media to create and promote a brand image and its approach to product promotion is not creative enough. ACC irregularly posts minimalist pictures of the items it sells with brief descriptions that do not appeal to users either informatively or aesthetically and, thus, do not stimulate them to make purchases. It is clear that a more creative approach to content generation is required.
Table 1: Summary of ACC Wholesale’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats based on internal and external analysis.
|Strengths ||Weaknesses |
|Opportunities ||Threats |
- Develop product and brand awareness among target consumers,
- Increase the size of ACC Wholesale’s social media community,
- Promote customer loyalty.
Marketing Strategies: Lifestyle News
Considering the characteristics of the selected target audience, it may be not enough to create digital content on ACC Wholesale’s products or the food and beverage industry alone. It is essential to post content that would be relevant, informative, aesthetically appealing, and original in order to capture young individuals’ attention. Overall, the recommended social media strategy should combine both informational and transformational elements. It means that content must contain information that is factual, verifiable, and immediately important, as well as provide emotional motivation and pleasant reading/viewing experiences (Haff 8). Thus, it is possible to say that posts featuring lifestyle news would be particularly valuable for students.
For example, ACC may focus on reviewing major events in college life in Atlanta, where the company is currently located. It can also write informative posts about how students may increase their studying efficiency, motivation, and so forth, while also smartly and creatively incorporating information about available products in users’ feed. An alternative orientation for ACC Wholesale to pursue in social media marketing is to create news about healthy living since it aims to introduce a healthy drink. However, this approach would be appropriate only if the company has an intention to add more healthy and sustainable items in its portfolio.
Table 2: Tactics to implement the suggested organic marketing strategy
|Channels||Content will be distributed via Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.|
|Content types|| |
|Content themes and topics||Brand slogans, student life and academic performance, time-management, motivation, healthy living, and so forth|
|Style||The company’s persona is that of trustworthy, socially responsible, and human-oriented entity. Its voice on social media will be empathetic, motivational, inspirational, and reliable.|
|Implementation standard||Editorial consistency is pivotal; all posts should include an original photo or graphic image, a call for action, and a link to the company’s website and must keep up with the intended message tone and brand voice.|
The company will implement the organic marketing strategy and, therefore, it may take a lot of time before the desired results are achieved. In ACC Wholesale’s case, it would be appropriate to evaluate the effectiveness of the proposed strategy for the first time only 6 months after the strategy launch. Along with the overall increase in the number of followers, the company should assess their activity: frequency of comments, likes, sharing, and so forth.
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In addition, it would be useful to conduct sentiment analysis in order to understand whether users perceive the brand and content positively or negatively. After obtaining the evaluation findings, the strategy would be adjusted, focusing on less successful engagement areas.
Since the company will promote content organically, no substantial expenses will be required as all necessary apps and analytical tools (such as Google Analytics) are available for free. However, considering that ACC Wholesale does not have any experience in social media marketing, it will need to hire a specialist who would keep up with high marketing standards and will be able to implement the strategy successfully. An average salary of social media managers per annum is about US $50.000 (Washenko). In order to save money, the company may hire a part-time or freelance specialist.
It may be expected that Blendo will become a demanded product mainly due to present-day consumer preference trends. Overall, the choice of college students as the main target audience seems smart in this regard as young individuals are becoming increasingly interested in healthy lifestyles. However, since millennials are technologically savvy and not very responsive to traditional advertising, it may be challenging for ACC Wholesales to capture their attention with its current approach to social media marketing. To foster greater product awareness, it should implement a creative approach and add extra values to customers by making promotional content more informative, original, and visually appealing.
While it should incorporate information about the firm, it is important to make an accent on target customers’ interests. It is possible to say that the lifestyle news strategy would be successful in achieving this objective. Moreover, by educating and entertaining social media users, ACC Wholesales would be able to develop a positive brand image. Through active interactions with followers, it would gain deeper insight into their needs, and this knowledge would help the company to foster further improvement and growth.
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M&M Sales. “New Food and Beverage Choices Fill Millennials’ Shopping Carts in Lafayette.” M&M Sales. Web.
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West Midland Family Center. “Generational Differences Chart.” WMFC. Web.