By Sarah Loeb
About a month ago, Whole Foods announced its first ever national ad campaign with the theme, “Values Matter”. It’s likely that you’ve seen one of the many TV spots the company purchased and heard about the grocery’s commitment to quality, traceability, and health.
Curious how consumers are receiving this new campaign, we looked at the conversation on social media.
The business questions we were looking to answer are as follows:
• Were consumers generally pleased or displeased with the new ad campaign?
• What drove individuals to like or dislike the campaign?
• What were the most common topics of conversation around the ad campaign?
• What are the other interests of people who are talking about the new WFM campaign?
Our data included Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and blogs, but the majority of content came from Twitter.
Of the 2,096 relevant posts that we analyzed, 5% were positive, 32% were neutral, and 63% were negative.
The findings of our analysis revealed that much of the social media conversation about the campaign to-date was driven by a group of animal rights activists who oppose Whole Foods’ policy of selling rabbit meat.
In fact, the main driver of negative sentiment was consumer anger at WFM for selling rabbit meat – at 46% of the total conversation. Overall, consumers were upset about the treatment of rabbits in WFM’s care, and about the animals being sold for meat.
The most prolific author of the conversation (the author with the highest volume of posts in the conversation) was user @respectrabbits with 183 posts on the topic.
— NZ (@respectrabbits) November 11, 2014
A popular theme in the positive category was that the “ad campaign might actually be working”. The second-highest retweet, from Slate, is below:
Top campaign hashtags represent general campaign mentions, and calls to boycott Whole Foods:
The conversation about the new ad campaign wasn’t completely hijacked by the animal rights proponents, however. Many Twitter users tweeted that they liked the campaign vides, and admire the message.
As part of our analysis we also explored what else people talking about Whole Foods are interested in. Among the top Affinity groups for the “Values Matter” conversation are FitBit, Seaworld, Ohio Northern University, Veganism, and Animal Rights.
What can we learn from the social media conversation around WFM’s new “Values Matter” ad campaign?
Whole Foods Market can take away that concerned consumers critical of its practices have the ability to hijack its ad campaign – a marketing effort that otherwise has had some positive reception. In order for the campaign to improve its rate of success, WFM should find a way to address the animal rights activists that are upset – either by changing its practices, or else providing an explanation behind its decision to sell rabbit meat to these vocal critics. Otherwise, this interest group will continue to use the hashtag #valuesmatter against the grocery chain.
Additionally, we can learn that consumers were somewhat inspired by the campaign. The second-most re-tweeted post came from Slate, who claimed the campaign might actually be working. Whole Foods can work to distribute such tweets and online comments as much as possible to leverage the words of a 3rd-party on its behalf – and can thank Slate and others via social media for the kind words to help ensure positive reviews continue.