Social listening is of heightened importance for brands at a time of profound disruption to consumer habits during the COVID-19 pandemic, as the example of #savefnbsg shows.

“You can’t rely on focus groups any more. You can’t use in-store feedback. Physical interactions, usually a big part of retail, are all gone,” Weldon Fung, head of social for Meltwater in Southeast Asia, told a recent webinar hosted by the media monitoring solutions provider.

“People are now going online to exchange a lot more information and share opinions” – and if marketers aren’t listening they may miss out on vital information. “It’s going to be risky, [and could mean] getting blindsided by movements that are online,” he said.

One such is the #savefnbsg campaign, which originated as a ground-up movement for Singapore’s consumers to support local food and beverage businesses, including restaurants. The initiative has gained momentum as out-of-home dining in Singapore came to a halt in line with social-distancing measures.

Meltwater’s analysis of social media conversations around the campaign threw up some interesting findings. For one, “commission fees” was a top keyword – and this phrase was often used together with mentions of delivery platforms.

“When we dug a little bit deeper into that, we realised there was a gripe in the industry about high commission fees imposed by delivery partners,” said Fung.

“Eventually, this movement was pushing for consumers to bypass using food delivery platforms altogether, and order from restaurants where they had freelance delivery people. They were essentially boycotting players like Grab and Deliveroo.”

This has major implications for delivery platforms and their partners alike. “What’s particularly challenging was the image that’s presented of these companies, who were seen as being opportunistic in a challenging environment,” Fung said.

“That may or may not be the case,” he added, but the perception opened the possibility of such delivery businesses taking some kind of positive action to support local businesses beyond simply saying ‘Hey, get on our platform’.

Deliveroo Singapore, for example, announced a new function for customers to support local restaurants via voluntary tipping – and pledged to match the first 10,000 customer tips, with 100% of tips going to the restaurant directly.

Sourced from WARC