No brand as yet owns the barbecue space in the UK, and it’s ripe for the taking, a new study suggests.

Much to the amusement of those in hotter climes, Brits adore the al fresco dining experience, even if the weather tends to be a let-down, but perhaps not any more. Last year summer in the UK was a sizzler, and with forecasts indicating another this year, the great British BBQ is something brands should re-examine, according to Immediate Future.

Its report, Sun’s out, Buns out, based on a year’s worth of social data from Brandwatch, explains that the events themselves, despite the necessary paraphernalia and compulsory accessories, are not actually much to do with the food.

BBQs in Britain are a unique gathering, a social event in their own right that triggers a deeply emotional response, the research said.

The data reveals that BBQ-related social media posts are growing fast in popularity (up 287% year on year), while sharing of such posts is also surging (up 311% year on year). And over a third of these shared posts are, in turn, re-shared. Hardly surprising when you consider the events are all about friends and family.

Social media chatting starts around April – well before traditional BBQ season – the study found. By May, engagement increases significantly – and this is the time brands should be looking to engage with people, researchers suggested.

“Brands that can feature in the BBQ space should grab the consumer now, before the heat of the summer is on us,” said Katy Howell, chief executive at Immediate Future, who argued that the BBQ space is often overlooked by marketers.

“Embed your brand and you will be tightening the loop on the customer purchase cycle in good time,” she said. “Marketing teams should consider a summer BBQ campaign that accelerates all the other chat they do on social.”

But joining the BBQ conversation “is not just perfect for the traditional food and drinks brands,” Howell added. “It also offers a massive growth opportunity for challenger brands and brands looking at adjacency marketing as a revenue opportunity.

“Awareness of the topics people are actually talking about, versus assumptions, coupled with the emotional element that surrounds the BBQ, will ensure that social media delivers you new customers.”

Sourced from Immediate Future; additional content by WARC staff