Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods has increased the pace of digital disruption in the food industry. Pure-play retailers are expanding fulfillment capabilities and merchandising options, and brands in L2’s Digital IQ Index: Food have responded: more than 95% now distribute on Walmart, Kroger ClickList, Peapod, and Target. With digital sales of food and beverage products estimated to account for a fifth of category sales by 2025, these are the 10 brands best-positioned to take advantage.

Top 10 Food brands

1. Quaker
Digital IQ: 150

Quaker’s mix of diligence and creativity earns the brand the top spot in L2’s ranking. All of the brand’s email marketing campaigns feature original creatives, and Quaker uploads new recipes every week on YouTube, resulting in an impressive eightfold increase in subscribers. The brand also posts the highest PLA visibility in the industry and dominates the snack bar category in desktop advertising.

2. Cheerios
Digital IQ: 144

Social is a strong point for Cheerios, whose #momentswithcheerios campaign helped earn the brand more interactions than any other cereal brand. The company’s spot in the Genius category was solidified by its strong mobile creatives and best-in-category recipe section, featuring meal prep times, in-depth ingredients lists, and UGC opportunities.

3. Barilla
Digital IQ: 141

The top performer on Amazon, Barilla owns 45% of products in the Pasta & Noodles category on the e-tailer’s Best Sellers list. The brand also demonstrates strong mobile SEO and PLA performance, with ads appearing on many unbranded pasta terms, such as “whole grain pasta” and “thick spaghetti.”

PLAs

3. McCormick
Digital IQ: 141

McCormick is the only brand in L2’s study that still garners strong organic engagement on Facebook, attracting consistently plentiful interactions on recipe posts. Its mobile site also scores high marks, boasting assets such as the Flavor Profile tool, which provides robust recipe content and can be logged into through Facebook.

5. Betty Crocker
Digital IQ: 140

Recipes are also a strong point for Betty Crocker, which garners the highest monthly site traffic among Index brands thanks to its extensive recipe content. The brand also boasts heavy organic visibility on Google search, both for mobile and desktop.

5. Campbell’s
Digital IQ: 140

Campbell’s averaged the second position on Amazon’s Best Sellers list for over a month and owns 72% of in-category Index brand AMS ads, pointing to its investments on the e-tailer. Additionally, Web advertising creatives for Campbell’s garnered the highest number of interactions on desktop among Index canned food brands, and the brand reinforces strong organic search visibility for canned food terms on mobile with ads appearing above the fold.

7. Hershey’s
Digital IQ: 139

Pay-to-play is the rule on Facebook, where promoted posts generate 80% of interactions. The confectioner earned more than 2.5 million interactions on Facebook during the study period, testifying to the effectiveness of seasonal campaigns like #smoresseason and #welcomehappy.

8. Pillsbury
Digital IQ: 138

Despite losing its spot in the Genius category, Pillsbury remains strong across multiple dimensions of digital. The brand had the best video performance on Facebook in the Index, with one fast recipe video earning 41 million views — of which only 4 million were organic. Furthermore, Pillsbury’s robust recipe site features in-store coupons for ingredients, step-by-step instructions, and ratings and reviews for each recipe.

Recipes

9. Chobani
Digital IQ: 137

An early and successful adopter of Snapchat, the yogurt maker cross-promotes its Snapchat Stories about new product launches and original recipe content on Twitter to engage a larger audience. Also, the brand’s savvy AdWords buying strategy helps it remain at the top of search results for “greek yogurt,” despite holding the fourth organic listing for the term.

9. Silk
Digital IQ: 137

Silk boasts strong organic Google search visibility, demonstrating the effectiveness of its advertising campaigns. The brand also makes smart e-tailer investments, such as paying for featured listings on FreshDirect, a move that results in its ownership of 77% of the soy and non-dairy yogurt category.

9. Starbucks
Digital IQ: 137

The digitally savvy coffee chain uses customer data from the Starbucks Rewards app to send highly personalized emails, resulting in an average open rate above 20%. When it comes to selling its products on e-tailers, the brand also takes an innovative approach. For example, Starbucks sponsors listings in Target’s search tool that appear above the fold for the keyword “ground coffee,” and also appears in the e-tailer’s “Brands We Love” carousel for the Coffee, Tea, and Cocoa category. As a result, Starbucks owns over 12% of listings for ground coffee terms on the Target site.

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