September 6, 2011

Social Media Influencing Decisions on Kosher Consumption, But Not There Yet

New York…The effect of social media on the consumption of kosher foods is for all practical purposes a case of two separate cities. In an exhaustive look at the subject, KosherToday found that in a good segment of the kosher market, social media is beginning to play a significant role in influencing brand and product consumption while in some Charedi (Orthodox) communities social media is still linked to an overall distrust and even forbidden medium of the Internet. “Since this customer still makes up a large percentage of daily kosher food sales, bridging this gap will be important if social media will take off for the kosher category,” says Yakov M. Yarmove, Corporate Business Manager, Ethnic Marketing and Specialty Foods for SuperValu. But KosherToday found that even in such Orthodox communities as Flatbush and Monsey, some stores are feeling the effects of social media, particularly when some of their premium items go on sale. “I will sometimes have 15-20 shoppers a day ask for an item on sale that they flagged on either Facebook or Twitter,” said a Flatbush retailer.

Esti Berkowitz of and, a leader in the growing kosher foodie network using social media, says that social media is influencing purchases at the grocery store. “A lot of these purchasing decisions come directly from the online distribution of circulars from the supermarket,” she says. In fact, she points to a study conducted by Ken Johns, VP, Director of 1:1 at Brunner which found that amongst more than 400 women with children age 12 and under, nearly 96% of the respondents said they check e-mail at least once a day and eight in ten moms indicated they want to receive offers and information from preferred brands via email. A number of major retailers have been using Facebook and Twitter to communicate with their loyal customers, a trend that kosher industry sources say is beginning to take hold in the kosher community as well. It bodes well for the introduction of new products, which in many instances drives profits in the kosher set. Says Mrs. Berkowitz: “The gain for new products via social media is increasing steadily.  People are looking to blogs and social media for reviews and recommendations of food and beverages.” She points to the results of The Social Media Matters Study (April 2011) that 53% of the participants had become repeat buyers based on a blog recommendation.

Leah Schapira is one of those foodies who have developed a passion for using social media to promote good kosher cooking. A  well-known food columnist and recipe developer in the kosher world, she recently launched as a platform for sharing information on ingredients, recipes, new products and almost everything else that a kosher consumer and cook would need Not very much. Says Schapira: “I don't think that the influence of social media has spread wide enough in the kosher world yet.” She does, however, see social media as a boon for new products because of the relationship it establishes between manufacturer and consumer. “The ability to easily and quickly solicit feedback from consumers can help a new product adjust its course in line with ever-changing demands and preferences,” says Schapira. Although there appeared to be dramatic developments in the impact of social media on kosher consumption, most kosher industry sources agreed that the trend is definitely on the side of a new generation of social media kosher foodies.