Digital influences 31 cents of every dollar spent on food and beverages, making it essential for packaged food brands to invest in their online presence. In the past year, brands in L2’s Food Index focused their digital investments in e-commerce and mobile: 22% of brands partner with e-tailers to sell their products, a 12% increase on the year, and 81% of brands support a mobile-optimized site, up from 57%. Following these changes, five brands joined the Genius group, widening the gap between top innovators and companies that have made feeble efforts to adapt to the digital age.

Top 10 food brands1. Betty Crocker (General Mills)

Digital IQ: 171

 Its name might sound homey and old-fashioned, but Betty Crocker leads the Food industry when it comes to producing mobile offerings. It’s the only Food brand with a mobile site featuring a geolocal product locator, persistent shopping list, and current coupons at local stores. Betty Crocker’s mobile app also scores high marks with more than 15,000 recipes searchable by ingredient or meal type, a recipe box that syncs across devices, and a “cook mode” that keeps the screen on while cooking – key for anyone who has ever gotten food spots on their phone while trying to follow a recipe.

Betty Crocker's best-in-class mobile app

 2. Ghirardelli (Lindt & Sprungli)

Digital IQ: 157

Ghirardelli’s digital investments emphasize visibility. Search Google for the brand and you get a direct link to the nearest retail store, making it easy to satisfy a spontaneous chocolate craving. If you prefer to shop from the comfort of your home, the brand’s website offers a robust e-commerce experience that works seamlessly across device types.

The chocolate maker also maintains first-page organic search visibility for competitive keywords like “chocolate” and has high visibility (both organic and paid) on top recipe destinations like AllRecipes and Food Network.

3. Kraft (Kraft Foods Group)

Digital IQ: 151

English isn’t the only language spoken in the U.S., and Kraft acknowledges this reality with the Index’s most sophisticated Spanish language offering. The brand runs a dedicated domain for Spanish speakers – ComidaKraft.com – as well as Spanish-only social media accounts and an email marketing program. Kraft boasts dedicated Spanish offerings

Its English-language email marketing is equally strong, with links to recipe videos, trending social media content, and monthly recipes from food bloggers.

4. Pillsbury (General Mills)

Digital IQ: 150

Like its puffy mascot, Pillsbury has risen to social media success. The brand’s Facebook page registers more cumulative engagement than any other in the industry, outweighing its three million fans. Pillsbury is also one of only four Index brands with more than 100,000 Pinterest followers, boasting an account laden with high-quality photos and recipes. Fans can follow up by signing up on the brand site to get access to printable coupons and special deals at local retailers.

 5. McCormick (McCormick & Co.)

Digital IQ: 145

McCormick has corralled the online spice market with its ample Amazon investments, which include a branded storefront and participation in the Subscribe & Save program. As a result, the brand owns 100% of “spices” results on Amazon. It’s also taking the lead in digital innovation by employing FlavorPrint personalization technology to suggest recipes and partnering with shopping list app Whisk.

 6. Johnsonville (Johnsonville Sausage, LLC)

Digital IQ: 141

The sausage maker stepped up promotions in recent months, doubling its post engagement on Facebook with campaigns like “Bratfast in Bed” and “Brat Signal.” Johnsonville's successful social campaignsThese campaigns helped Johnsonville achieve the same reach as peers with communities 20 times larger, propelling the brand out of the Average category to Genius. Its brand site is also strong, with robust location features like “Find This Product” and “Big Taste Grill” producing relevant results in the user’s immediate vicinity and comprehensive product pages featuring detailed user reviews and recipes.

 6. Kellogg’s (Kellogg Co.)

Digital IQ: 141

By focusing its digital strategy on e-tailers, Kellogg’s placed among the top five in the Index when it came to product visibility across e-tail platforms for relevant keywords like “cereal.” The brand took advantage of e-tailers’ opportunities for brand promotions. For example, Kellogg’s #Back2SchoolReady campaign with children’s book publisher Scholastic was featured on Walmart’s landing page for Food items.

Kellogg’s has also paid attention to social media and digital advertising. On Twitter, the brand frequently retweets user photos and offers coupons. It also boasts the highest volume of display ad impressions via programmatic buying of any Index brand.

8. Campbell’s (Campbell Soup Co.)

Digital IQ: 135

As most Food brands continue to underinvest in email marketing, Campbell’s ranked as one of the industry’s top 10 email senders. The brand also invested in live chat this year to further connections with consumers.

Campbell's engages in display advertising on Allrecipes

Campbell’s strength is in its robust recipe pages, which offer video tutorials, extensive reviews, and content from brand ambassadors. The brand uses external sites like Allrecipes to promote its products via display advertising alongside equally comprehensive merchandising efforts on Amazon.

 9. Lindt (Lindt & Sprungli)

 Digital IQ: 133

Food brands typically use Twitter to share recipes, but Lindt’s #GalentinesDay event demonstrates how they can also take advantage of tent-pole events to build their social media presence. Inspired by the show “Parks and Recreation,” the Twitter party offered prizes for fans who wished their “gal pals” a happy #GalentinesDay, while allowing Lindt to leverage the association between its product and the romantic holiday.Lindt's #GalentinesDay campaign on Twitter

The chocolate maker, which boasts the highest brand visibility in Amazon’s Chocolate & Candy category, also has sophisticated e-commerce functionality on its own website. Features like expedited checkout and online inventory availability make it easy to order Lindt products.

10. Quaker (PepsiCo)

Digital IQ: 132

Quaker’s digital presence builds on its healthy image, with product pages that help visitors compare nutritional information. Alongside Pepperidge Farm, the brand had the highest visibility in Amazon’s Healthy Breakfast category, securing first page results for 28% of applicable category keywords – far outweighing the category average of 8%. The brand was also the only one in the Index to offer direct e-commerce in addition to handoff to e-tailers.

 For more, download a copy of L2’s Digital IQ Index: Food. 
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