When it comes to developing and marketing a new product, sometimes reaching the right consumer isn’t about intricate packaging or innovative varieties—sometimes it’s just about location, location, location.
Researchers at the University of Arizona, Tucson, Ariz., released a study that reveals America’s food preferences based on the most commonly used Twitter hashtags. The study analyzed 3.5 million tweets with food-related hashtags taken from Twitter’s API from October 2013 to May 2014. The original purpose of the study was to “investigate the predictive power behind the language of food on social media,” however what researchers found was that food preferences reveal a lot more about today’s consumers.
For example, Chicagoans tweeted about #breakfast and #bbq, where those living in San Francisco used hashtags such as #vegetarian, #dinner and #foodie. Regional trends show grits is a common dish in the southern states, and various types of seafood (halibut, caviar, cod and clams) are popular in the eastern and western coastal states.
Meanwhile, diabetes sufferers were more likely to tweet about Mexican food, fried food and bacon. Democrats tweeted about vegan food, brunch and the deli counter, while Republicans tweeted about lunch and snacks.
Of the 3.5 million tweets surveyed, #dinner was the most commonly used Twitter hashtag, used in 1.2 million tweets, followed by #breakfast in 979,031 instances. #lunch, #brunch, #snack, #meal and #supper also placed in the Top 7 most commonly used Twitter hashtags.
Playing with the interactive data visualization tools revealed at least one universal truth—consumers love tacos. Well, except for North Dakota and Vermont, which were the only two states that did not display any taco-related tweets.
“In the future, we would like to use our system to predict characteristics of individuals (e.g., propensity for diabetes), using the individuals’ food information,” says the University of Arizona’s Twitter4Food team. “Given sufficient amounts of available data, this can lead to non-trivial public health applications and in a commercial and/or political space to improved targeted marketing.”
So, next time you’re promoting a new product, location, location, location is key to reaching the perfect target audience. Well, that and a little help from our friend, the #hashtag.