Global consumer brands face familiar challenges: how to know what the trends of tomorrow will be, and how to create products that consistently meet customers' expectations.
Danone is one of the world's largest lactose- and plant-based goods producers. And in order to predict new food trends and deliver products consumers love, it needs the help of smart social data.
Just as every business needs to modernize and keep up with technology, Danone recognizes the importance of social media today. In 2014, the company decided it needed to make better use of these platforms.
“[Social listening] was identified as one of the key pillars of the transformation - as a way to better understand our product categories and consumers. In the beginning, it was really about demystifying ‘what is digital?’ It’s actually not that complex; not too technical.”
As a pioneer of health and nutrition, Danone understands that consumer habits are constantly shifting. It strives to use its global brand power to take a leadership position and drive innovation across the industry.
After investing in plant-based milk alternatives and revamping the packaging of their products, Danone wants to take one step further in identifying the ingredients of tomorrow - before they become mainstream.
Working closely with Linkfluence’s AI and data science team, Danone decided to build a unique trend predictor based on the new possibilities of social listening and artificial intelligence.
Raw numbers are great, but to turn social data into actionable insights, we need to understand these numbers in context:
For example, an ingredient might be highly conversational, but not visual enough to be interesting for marketing purposes. Or, if too many people are talking about an ingredient, it's already mainstream.
Putting numbers in context helps Danone execs make the right decisions based on their business goals. And in this case, the company was able to easily identify future food trends without costing the team time or effort.
At heart, social listening is about understanding people. By tracking conversations on social media, you learn what people think of your brand and your competitors when they’re truly being honest.
“It’s very important to understand how visible our brands are. What people say about our brands, but also the tone they use. Linkfluence has so much data on what people say about us.”
It’s the scope of this that makes social listening so powerful. It gives brands access to more customer insights than has ever been possible before. “It really allows us to gather a large number of diverse views, but also at specific moments when they’re most valuable to us. And we can see in real time when brand sentiment starts changing.”
Today, Danone uses social listening in five key ways:
This analysis is both complementary and comprehensive. In some cases, the data is used in addition to what the company can already collect from other sources. In others, this is all new, valuable information.
Danone has 30 CBUs (Country Business Units) using Linkfluence for better social media insights. Since every market is different - with different objectives - it’s important that each team can manage the tool and insights the way they see fit.
At first, it made sense to start small - only expanding to a few key countries.
“We started with four pilot countries: Spain, Germany, the UK, and France. They were the biggest priorities, and we knew we had teams in place that could handle additional tools.”
But rolling the system out worldwide proved to be crucial to understanding their global audience.
“We now have more than 1,200 users on the Radarly platform on a regular basis, across five continents. It’s important for us to analyze conversations not only in English, French, and other common languages, but also others like Swedish, Polish, Turkish, and Bahasa. And of course, Mandarin, because we do a lot of business in China.”
The relationship between Danone and Linkfluence began around four years ago. For Danone, it was more than just a new tool - it needed to introduce teams to a whole new way of thinking about digital marketing.
“Linkfluence helped us to deploy social listening not only with the tool but also with the people accompanying this development. We received training in the tool, but also in how to interpret and understand the data. We were able to communicate to everyone the deliverables we hoped to get out of it. It took time, and Linkfluence helped a lot in the process."
As a trusted partner, Danone has also had a hands-on role in shaping the social listening tools themselves. “I appreciate how open and transparent the innovation roadmap at Linkfluence is. They allow us to express our needs and explain what we really want.”
Linkfluence Search came as a direct result of conversations between the two companies. The ability to search for social media keywords was important to Danone and was, therefore, made a priority as the tools developed.
“One thing we appreciate very much is having access to the product and development team. We meet at least twice-a-year to explain what our needs as, as a business, as a company, and what Linkfluence is able to develop. This includes Linkfluence Search, and we were happy to have access to the beta version to help test it.”