Grocery Stores Emphasize Recipes, Coupons on Facebook

Would you check out your grocery store’s Facebook Page before taking off for your weekly shopping trip? It seems like the stores hope you will, given what we saw this week when we looked at an assortment of grocery stores that have set up shop on Facebook.

Given the wide range of grocery store chains around the US, we made sure to look at both larger ones and smaller, regional ones.

Piggly Wiggly is a chain in the southeast part of the country, with about 6,900 Facebook fans. Safeway is a company with several brands under its umbrella that has 1,775 Safeway stores throughout the U.S. and Canada with 66,800 fans. Ukrop’s is a chain in Virginia with 4,400 fans. Albertsons is a chain in the western US with almost 8,600 fans on its Page. HEB is a chain in Texas and Mexico with about 24,800 fans. Finally, Kroger is also a national chain with more than 14,000 Facebook fans on its Page.

Grocery stores seemed to take a different approach to Facebook than we’ve seen with other industries, in that they focus all of their content almost exclusively on specials and recipes that appear either in status updates/links on the Wall or in notes. Actually, grocery stores seem to utilize the notes more regularly and consistently than others industry we’ve studied — the feature is primarily used to share recipes and events. And, more often than not, the products/recipes being promoted are in-store brands, giving these companies yet another opportunity to promote themselves.

Of course it makes sense that an industry so narrowly focused on food would be food-centric on Facebook, but the grocers seemed almost a little more relaxed about branding on their Pages than other types of companies we’ve seen. One obvious explanation for this is, of course, that many communities only have one grocery store and so are already inherently loyal to that brand. This is true with HEB in South Texas, for example, where there are virtually no other grocery stores that compete other than Wal-Mart and Target.

Safeway had the best notes of the stores we saw, located on the Blog tab, as it seems they are importing the blog from their web site onto Facebook. The result is crisp, professional-looking and easy to read. It also has a snazzy Savings tab that promotes store brands, coupons and home-delivery, and allows users to enter their location to find out weekly specials, sign up for emails with specials or find a store — all of this content, however, directs back to Safeway’s web site.

HEB did something similar, providing two links on the Ads & Coupons tab to view a weekly ad and coupons on external sites. One thing that HEB did really well — that seems to be exemplary of the smaller chains — is that it markets very closely to customers’ needs. For example, a status update today notes that an in-store clinic can provide diabetes tests (Texas has high rates of diabetes) and one from yesterday is promoting Easter recipes. South Texas is largely Catholic and meat consumption is limited during the pre-Easter Lent period. Other stores followed the same pattern, southeastern chain Piggly Wiggly posted a status update on March 24, “We at The Pig have never met a BBQ sauce we didn’t like. What’s your favorite recipe?” and Ukrop’s in Virginia is promoting skiing discounts.

One thing we see that would definitely behoove these companies is to locate their coupons directly on their Facebook Pages. Promotions for free hamburgers or bagels have been successful because people could simply print the coupons directly off the companies’ Facebook Pages. Other features like locator maps could also be built directly onto Facebook.