Marketing effectiveness is now predicated on analyzing online consumer behavior. We are digitally immersed, and our buying behavior is reflected in our digital footprint across all channels from emails to social media.

AI-driven back-end tools are continually assessing our likes so that marketers can be more efficient in their targeting. The same is true of the food and beverage industry, which is increasingly looking at online consumer conversations for the next step in its journey.

A recent consumer insights report by Social Standards shows distinct shifts in this regard.

The comparative analytics platform converts online consumer conversations into marketing information for companies and brands. While it leans heavily on Instagram, which is the most relevant platform for food and beverage, it also listens to conversations on other channels to provide a consolidated report.

Per the latest report, Social Standards noticed that consumer interest in alcohol is down 18%. This could be a direct result of the macro trend of clean and healthy eating, which particularly affects the alcoholic beverages category.

About 4% of all beverage-related social media conversations are related to health and wellness. The report states that there has been a significant decrease in conversations about heavy drinking and casual drinking occasions. There has been more than 85% growth in conversations about no alcohol or low alcohol consumption, and a 48% increase in health and wellness‑related conversations in alcoholic beverages.

Clean eating and diet-related conversations are often associated with carb consciousness. If beverage makers are listening, they need to address these concerns and create products that align with the new consumer demands. Products like hard seltzer will stride ahead of others, unless those outside of the big, fizzy trend innovate as well.

It seems consumers are sticking to their behavior, a fact that may have significant repercussions for the beverage industry and related businesses like restaurants, bars, and pubs.

In keeping with the upswing in non-alcoholic preferences, traditional midweek drinking occasions like Margarita Mondays, Wine Wednesday and even Friday happy hours have declined over the last two years.

Businesses that take these occasions into account for their marketing plans now need to introduce refreshing drinks options that have a balance between low potency and high flavor.

One major trend to keep in mind are cannabis-infused beverages. Though most do not fall under the alcoholic segment, it seems they are drawing whiskey and IPA drinkers towards them.

Newer products like Dirty Lemon are doing better than traditional beverages because they are listening to these conversations and are agile enough to innovate.

Dirty Lemon, for instance, has used SMS technology to connect with the new-age consumer who responds better to texts than emails. It has reportedly sold more than 2 million bottles since 2015. The company’s bots run 50% of all conversations while 50% are seamlessly transferred to customer support.

The beverage industry is slated to reach $2 trillion globally by 2021. It is also dependent on antiquated distribution systems that plagued by a lack of data. Many manufacturers in the sector still have no clear idea of who their customers are, which prevents effective retargeting. Newbies like Dirty Lemon are not just listening but are implementing creative cross-selling marketing strategies to stay ahead of the disruption.

It’s not just products that are the results of effective social listening. Apps and services can benefit as well. Apps like Badger Liquor will play a big role in augmenting the data.

This app will help consumers track down their favorite beverage in Wisconsin. What’s interesting is that the makers of the app came up with the idea due to active online listening.

The future of food and beverage lies online, and businesses have to be agile and innovative to stay on top of these trends.