This is my first article on an Australian brand, so I thought I would “start with Vegemite” (the Aussie readers might get the pun!). Who would think that a by-product of beer breweries would change the way people all around the world have breakfast; that such a divisive product could become a part of an entire country’s culture? Infact, have you ever got through the day without hearing the Vegemite jingle, either on the radio or someone randomly humming it on the train?
This year, Vegemite will be celebrating its 90th birthday on October 25th and that is certainly going to be a new milestone. The brand isn’t holding back on the celebrations either, the hashtag #Vegemite90 has been used on its website, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest pages. Over the years, Vegemite has connected with its loyal fans on radio, TV and now social media. Let’s take a look at how the cult of Vegemite has resonated on Facebook, since that’s where they first started and have built the biggest community.
The number of fans gained is around 3,500, which is amazingly small compared to other local brands. Just to put this in context, Uncle Toby’s Facebook page added 25,155 fans in the same period. The fan growth rate before the 22nd of September was 1.1% which is low compared to the sector growth rate of 8.1%. The fan growth rate of Vegemite for the previous quarter was close to 4% but this dropped significantly for the current quarter.
The Geo-distribution of the fans is not surprising but is interesting. Close to 87% of the fans are from Australia. 3% and 2% of the fans are from the United States and United Kingdom respectively. The reason the distribution is skewered towards Australia is that close to 98% of all the Vegemite produced is sold in Australia and the remaining 2% is sold overseas.
Strangely, on September 22nd there was a significant spike in Vegemite’s fan growth rate. Close to 80,000 fans were added to the page in one day, which is something we haven’t seen before for this brand. There are usually two reasons that this can happen, one is the result of buying fans, and the other is that Vegemite combined the fans from separate geo-targeted pages (something that has been happening a lot for big global brands recently).
For the 4 month period that we analyzed, Vegemite posted 84 times, which is less than one post a day. However, when compared to similar Australian brands like Samboy Chips, which posted 44 times in the same period, Vegemite seems to be spending more time and money on creating content for its community.
Of course, there’s no point in bombarding fans’ timelines with lots of content that doesn’t resonate with them, so let’s take a look at some of the most engaging posts on Vegemite’s page to understand how well the brand is connecting with its community. To find the most engaging posts, I used the Unmetric Engagement Score, which is calculated based on the number of Likes, Comments, Shares and Estimated Impressions that each post receives. The score helps in ranking the posts in terms of the engagement it receives.
The above post is centered around Vegemite’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities and ties in with the #Vegemite90 campaign. CSR posts usually receive a higher amount of engagement since they show the human side of the brand and make the brand more approachable. The campaign uses the tried and tested formula of donating a brands’ product for every ‘Like’ it gets on the post. We’ve seen this happen a lot with food brands around the world asking fans to do something and in return the brand donates to a charity. One example that comes to mind is Kraft Foods’ other famous food brand Mac & Cheese. The post received a high engagement score since it received plenty of shares, however it looks like it fell short of its target of 90,000 Likes! Perhaps a paid promotion would have helped boost the visibility of the post. That said, if Vegemite can set aside 90,000 jars to give away, I don’t think 5,280 Likes is going to stop them from giving them all away!
The second most engaging post was a photo that depicts a perfect breakfast and I call this as an engagement oriented post: it explicitly asks the person to ‘Like’ the post to show agreement with the question being asked. Brands use engagement oriented posts to increase the interaction they have with their fans and to also form a relationship with them, but these types of posts are essentially used to promote and increase the reach of the brand.
Looking at the broader content strategy of Vegemite’s Facebook posts, the average engagement score Vegemite received for each post is 47. By comparison, the average engagement score for the Food sector in Australia is 40, so we can say that Vegemite’s content is working well to engage fans and create conversations. That said, I would say that there is still room for improvement by Vegemite, since other brands with a cult following are often able to get much higher engagement scores than the sector average.
Speaking of cult following, let’s also take a look at some of the fan posts that Vegemite receives. Fans posted a total of 208 times on the Vegemite’s Facebook page and seem to be savoring the interaction with the brand and also have a sentimental attachment with the product. Vegemite responded to 96 of those 208 posts which is close to a 50% response rate. Their response rate is also an area they can improve on since they receive so many posts from fans consistently and when you are getting so much love from fans, it makes sense to give back. Just by scrolling through the Vegemite Facebook page, you can see the kind of cult following that Vegemite has – it reminds me of brands like Dr Pepper or Innocent Smoothies. Fans mostly post around the different ways they use the product or reminisce about growing up with Vegemite on their breakfast table and sharing it with their loved ones.
Compared to other heritage brands like Uncle Tobys or Samboy Chips, Vegemite is doing much better in terms of Facebook fan numbers and has close to 3 times the fan base they have.
It takes an immense amount of effort and time for a brand to integrate itself into daily life and its society. Vegemite has done that with character and is certainly an achievement and knowing the brand is closer to its 90th birthday, it can certainly teach younger brands a thing or two about how to build a loyal following on social media. Happy Birthday, Vegemite!
Unmetric compiled the report by sourcing data from its own social media benchmarking platform. The Engagement Score is calculated based on the number of Likes, Comments, Shares and Estimated Impressions that each post receives. Data and Insights on Vegemite’s activities on Facebook were analyzed for the period of 1st June – 30th September, 2013.