COLORADO SPRINGS: Grubhub, the online food delivery service, is using emojis, GIFs and stickers as part of its wider efforts to build emotional connections with consumers.

Barbara Martin Coppola, Chief Marketing Officer at Grubhub, discussed this subject at the Association of National Advertisers' (ANA) 2016 Digital & Social Media Conference.

Earlier this year, she reported, the delivery service introduced its MMMoji keyboard for iOS and Android – featuring food-themed GIFs, emojis and stickers – in partnership with Snaps, a mobile-messaging solutions provider.

"Mobile messaging is incredibly effective at making us feel connected. And within messaging, there is a huge trend, and this trend is emojis," said Coppola. (For more, including further details of the brand's strategy, read Warc's exclusive report: Grubhub's approach to engaging consumers.)

"So at Grubhub, we thought, 'OK, what about creating emojis around the language of food, so that we can equip our users to express emotions around food?'"

More specifically, the MMMoji tool allows consumers to express terms like "hot", "delish" and "fresh". Food lovers can also share pictorial representations of items such as jalapeños and peppers.

Efforts like this have enabled Grubhub – which has over 7.4 million "active diners" – to become part of the "most intimate of conversations" about food, and thus forge deeper, emotional connections, according to Coppola.

The MMMoji tool constitutes one element in a broader drive by the brand to tap into the prevalence of food-based imagery across the digital universe, from Facebook to niche culinary platforms.

"Food is a very powerful thing – the sight of fresh ingredients, the sound of meat sizzling in the pan, the smell of ingredients mixed together, the touch from the care you put into preparing food and, finally, the taste," Coppola said.

"Is it possible for digital and mobile to extend the experience rather than provide a shortcut? … At Grubhub, we believe it can … by surrounding the users through digital moments that reflect the offline world of food."

Data sourced from Warc