The Consumer Intelligence Blog - Infegy

Using the power of social listening to perform trend analysis

Trend analysis reports utilizing social media listening data provide examples that can highlight the population's changing interests in products and services. This blog reviews three examples of how trend analysis can showcase increases in particular types of social conversations and how a brand might respond to them.

Let’s examine a few real-world examples of how a social listening trend analysis can improve a brand’s performance and reach.

Identify emerging trends

The insights offered by social listening can help uncover emerging trends before they become mainstream. Quickly responding to developing trends can give brands a competitive advantage.

Consider the example below of coffee subscription services.

Image 1 - Coffee Sub Services
Figure 1: Post volume pertaining to coffee subscription services; Infegy Social Dataset, December 30, 2019, through March 4, 2024

Coffee subscriptions grew significantly in 2022. Much of this increased social interest and increased revenue growth pre-pandemic, but really expanded in 2022. Consumers really value the options and flavors that the flexibility around a streaming service can bring. Brands capitalized on changing consumer behaviors—shifting from in-person coffee shop visits to enjoying premium coffee at home, while companies like Pret-A-Manger recorded their first profit in years driven by coffee and drink subscription growth.

Reporting notes that this trend originated during the COVID-19 pandemic but really expanded as the country emerged from lockdowns. Nimble brewers that monitored consumer trends and understood their customers’ needs were most successful in shifting to a subscription business model, allowing customers to sign up for weekly or monthly deliveries of their premium coffee beans.

In Figure 1, notice the overall increase in post volume related to coffee subscription services, which continued through early 2024. This data illustrates the importance of being agile and responsive to market changes and evolving consumer needs. Coffee brands that were able to leverage social insights to quickly identify a need for home coffee deliveries were better able to anticipate and adapt to the needs of customers.

Conduct a competitive analysis

In addition to monitoring emerging consumer trends, social listening data can also be used to better understand key competitors and industry trends.

Consider the classic competitive example of Coke versus Pepsi. Both brands are known for conducting rigorous competitive analyses in order to gauge customer interest in their products as well as their competitors’ products. In 2022, PepsiCo’s trend analysis efforts indicated a growing trend in consumer demand for healthier, low-sugar beverages. They examined what their main rival, Coke was up to, and found dramatic organic post volume growth attributed to Coke Zero.

Image 3 - Coke and Pepsi
Figure 2: Post volume related to Coke Zero and Pepsi Zero; Infegy Social Dataset, January 1, 2020, through March 1, 2024.

Figure 2 illustrates this sustained Coke Zero growth. PepsiCo identified this as an opportunity to focus its marketing efforts on highlighting the improved taste of its no-calorie Pepsi Zero Sugar. The beverage company also launched new flavors and limited-edition products in an effort to attract health-conscious consumers who were actively discussing healthier alternatives to full-sugar soda on social media platforms.

In Figure 2, notice the sharp uptick in post volume as a result of PepsiCo’s marketing efforts. By using social listening to conduct a trend analysis, PepsiCo was able to redirect its marketing efforts and capitalize on its customers’ desire for healthier, sugar-free beverage alternatives. This example illustrates how the competitive insights gained through social listening can help brands adapt and thrive in dynamic market conditions.

That being said, we do see a common pattern here - one in which an announcement gets a bunch of buzz, but then dies out. This is especially common in the food or beverage space. Often, products like Pepsi or Coke are such a part of our social fabric, that after a product launch, it’s just not common for people to mention them.

Download our ebook to learn more about how social listening can help your brand and to understand product and industry trends.

Manage risk

Another practical application of social listening trend data is the ability to quickly identify and respond to potential crises and negative consumer sentiment.

The collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) is a well-known example of what can happen to a business that is unaware of consumer sentiment and conversations surrounding its brand. The regional bank suffered a catastrophic collapse following several ill-advised risk management decisions, which ultimately led to a bank run.

Image 3 - Risk
Figure 3: Theme analysis showing initial Risk conversation followed by a surge of Intent to Churn; Infegy Social Dataset, March 1, 2023, through March 13, 2023.

Figure 3 provides insight into themes related to SVB leading up to the bank’s collapse. It reflects a sharp uptick in posts among venture capitalists and other financial experts who were sharing news and warnings about SVB’s instability.

Notice how conversations about the bank’s instability, here “Risk” conversations, peaked on March 9, 2023. Just hours later, on March 10, we see a sharp uptick in the Churn theme (purple line). This reflects investors’ discussions as they attempted to withdraw their funds. Soon after, the FDIC intervened to put a halt on withdrawals, which led to another surge in the “Risk” theme as account holders realized they could not immediately withdraw their money.

The panic ultimately triggered a rapid $42 billion withdrawal by depositors within 10 hours, which led regulators to completely shut down the bank’s operations.

What would have happened if SVB had been monitoring online conversations in an effort to proactively identify and respond to developing trends? While social listening insights can’t undo years of risky investment decisions, an understanding of developing trends may have allowed the bank to identify a growing risk among its consumer base and respond to that risk before it became catastrophic.

This example highlights the impact social media can have on the financial services industry and the importance of employing social listening to proactively mitigate risk and manage crises before they spiral out of hand. It also shows how quickly social media can influence public perception and financial stability, as well as the importance of staying ahead of online discussions in order to safeguard an organization’s reputation and operational continuity.

The power of social listening can help financial institutions, government agencies, and consumer brands identify emerging risks and launch a proactive response to prevent potential crises from escalating.

To learn more about social listening insights gained from the SVB collapse, read our insight brief.

The importance of monitoring consumer trends

The examples above illustrate the importance of keeping up with dynamic consumer trends.

Social listening platforms, such as Infegy Starscape, provide real-time insight into the rapidly changing thoughts, preferences, and needs of consumers. This data helps brand managers, marketers, and business leaders identify emerging trends, remain competitive in the face of evolving consumer preferences, and quickly mitigate risks before they escalate to a point of no return.

To learn more about how Infegy’s social listening platform can help you identify, analyze, and respond to consumer trends, request a custom demo.