Guide to Mastering Social Listening for Innovation in CPG

Guide to Mastering Social Listening for Innovation in CPG

Social listening offers a real-time window into your target audience's minds. When you spot emerging trends first, your brand can lead the market. You can create brand-new products that already have an audience, market them in a way that resonates, and iterate swiftly.

But social listening can be complex. It's tough to hear insights through the background noise and interpreting the data can be confusing, leading to dead end after dead end.

This guide will show you how to gain more authoritative, human-centric insights with less effort, in less time.

4 Important Steps

1. Harness AI to make social listening more efficient and more insightful

To stay ahead of the competition, you need to analyze a lot more data than an individual analyst can handle. And you need to make sense of it quickly.

Social listening is key, but it’s complicated—for example, the best insights aren’t even mentioned explicitly. Your consumers are revealing insights they haven’t even typed. Who are they following? What else are they interested in? What are their hidden desires?Untitled design-3

Find out using AI, mingle those insights with your existing focus areas, and discover new intersections. That’s the fastest, sharpest way to unlock groundbreaking new product ideas.

Example: Brightfield Group listens across 10 million keyword mentions—updated weekly—and provides AI summaries and detailed snapshots. We further examine user following trends to decipher what others are interested in beyond what they are saying. We leverage advanced technologies such as natural language processing (NLP), machine learning (ML) models, and generative AI, along with expert human insights, to transform vast amounts of data into clear, actionable information. This approach ensures that professionals without a background in AI or social listening can easily understand and use the insights we provide.

2. Ground social listening in traditional methodologies.

Social listening is strongest when it’s connected and cross-referenced with traditional methodologies, like wide-scale surveys. That makes it easier to interpret and synthesize, because you can view the data points from 360 degrees and put them in a human context—and you get stronger validation, too.

Example: Brightfield runs quarterly attitude & usage surveys of 5k census-balanced and unique adult American consumers, many of whom opt to share their social data. This lets us tag and contextualize our data with a myriad of core dimensions, like market personas, need states, product categories, ingredients, and conditions. Then we can project and predict those dimensions onto the broader social universe.

3. Listen for the right dimensions—and reveal the unexpected.

To drive innovation in the wellness space, listen for:Untitled design (6)
●       Topics: What are consumers talking about?
●       Need states: What are they struggling with?
●       Products: What are they obsessed with?
●       Flavors: What are they savoring?
●       Ingredients: What are they intrigued by?
●       Claims: What are they excited about?

You’ll also want close control over time. Ask if you can see the time-lapse growth across channels—and zoom in to understand peaks and valleys for seasonality or isolated events. 

Most importantly, who is talking about these dimensions? Personas turn cold data into human stories. What type of person will like this product? Where do they fall along the product life cycle? (And later on, how will you market to them?)

Tip: Ask your social listening provider if they can define and tag these dimensions to account for noise interference. If you’re learning about trends in honey, try a Boolean search to focus on food and beverage mentions, not terms of endearment: (“organic” OR “raw”) AND NOT (“darling” OR “sweetie”).

At Brightfield, we also filter out brands, influencers, and bots so we can focus on not just the speakers, but also the followers who truly drive trends.

4. Partner with a CPG innovation insider.

Not all social listening platforms are created equal. Before you choose one, make sure it can fuel your goals.
Does it focus on innovation?
Most social listening providers track brand reputation or other marketing issues. If you want to create new products, you need consumer insights tools that are focused on innovation.
Does it focus on wellness, food and beverage, supplements, and alcohol?
If you want to specialize, then choose a partner that’s a specialist.

Does it align, reconcile, and measure the data for you?
If your platform compiles broad, deep sources and merges the data, then you can feel confident in bringing accurate recommendations to your team.
Let you choose: Play with the data or have trends gift-wrapped for you?
Can you interact with comprehensive, dynamic data to find deeper connections? Could you also pick a concise, executive-level summary of a hidden trend?

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5. Discover areas of growth—not just sheer volume.

Most social listening agencies emphasize social volume—like “most mentions,” which correlates to actual growth in large categories.
Forward-looking social listening, on the other hand, reveals emerging new trends—and even pre-new trends not yet identified. Dig deeper and find your next market base.
Tip: For growth in smaller categories, look at compound monthly growth and relative percentage growth rate. Don’t miss out on the growing number of women consuming creatine just because men are still the largest creatine consumer group.

Example: We've noticed a shift in social media conversations — digestive health discussions are waning while interest in heart health is gaining traction. This trend piqued our curiosity, prompting our researchers to delve deeper into the underlying factors. Their findings revealed that younger consumers experiencing mental health challenges are increasingly concerned about the link between mental health and heart health.

This emerging trend is challenging traditional approaches like prebiotic sodas and colon cleanses. Instead, could the next big thing in wellness be helping consumers prioritize their hearts by enhancing their moods? Explore our platform to uncover innovative strategies that win consumers' hearts — and minds.

Social Listening - Growth


6. Connect new dots to uncover unpredicted intersections—and reveal new opportunities for products and positioning.

When two topics intersect, that intersection can reveal two things:
●       A need that hasn’t been met (creating room for a new product).
●       A different way to use an existing product (revealing potential new positioning).

Example: Brightfield Group recently found that conversations about ADHD were on the rise in conversations about fish oil. Although fish oil isn’t new, that’s a new combination! This uncovers an opportunity to position fish oil products to meet a different consumer need.

7. Use the world’s biggest focus group—but make it easy.

Social listening is like a large-scale focus group; you can directly observe thousands of people talking about your topic. But unlike a focus group, their conversations aren’t forced. They’re completely natural, giving you a pristine glimpse into consumers’ lives and purchasing behaviors. Investigating the actual, real-time conversations around a topic can illuminate their context and open up worlds of new possibilities.

Tip: ChatGPT, Microsoft's Copilot, and Google's Gemini can all be powerful entry tools to find emerging themes in social listening. Craft your prompts carefully to get the most valuable summaries. If you include Boolean logic tags, your results will be more specific to your industry.GET OUR LATEST INSIGHTS REPORT

Example: Everyone knows Dry January is a big trend. But did you know the conversations about Dry January are intersecting with other topics, like ginger, prebiotics, and anxiety? Innovation teams can meet these consumers’ desires with prebiotic, nonalcoholic options that contain ginger and fight anxiety.

Ready to see the power of social listening in action? Request a free demo today and discover how Brightfield can help you not just meet but also deeply engage your market.

When you innovate, it will resonate.

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Published: 04/17/2024