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Step Aside, Mom, Social Media's Taking Your Place in the Kitchen

Mom is no longer the go-to culinary expert for many people, a new study shows. . / Credit: Mother, daughter and computer in kitchen image via Shutterstock

Mom has been pushed off her throne as the go-to culinary expert for many people, a new study shows. About half of American consumers now learn about foodvia social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook. This has implications for brands and marketers, experts say.

How Americans learn to cook, select recipes, plan meals, purchase food and share culinary secrets has dramatically changed in the past few years, according to a study conducted by MSLGROUP Americas, a communications agency, and The Hartman Group, a research organization. The study was published in the May issue of Food Technology magazine.

On a fundamental level, the study found that social and digital media are replacing mom as the authority on food. In the old days, family, friends, cookbooks and food company suggestions were the top go-to sources for consumers looking to find good recipes. But in today’s digital world, social media, blogs and phone apps are becoming the greatest influencers on the household chef.

[Farmers Use Social Media to Talk Turkey...and Carrots and...]

"As consumers use social media to discover and share information about food, they quickly become more active participants in food culture," the study's authors, Steve Bryant and Laurie Demeritt, wrote. "They look to bloggers and other opinions online to expand their culinary horizons and make purchase decisions."

 Traditional media resources are still relevant, but they are declining, the study found. While 31 percent of study participants say they are inspired by food shows they watch on TV, 25 percent say they are inspired by recipe websites or phone apps, and 17 percent say they receive inspiration from restaurant review websites or phone apps. Pointing to the future, millennials now regard online media resources as their most valued sources of food inspiration — over magazines, cookbooks and TV food shows.

If companies want to gain the attention of consumers, they must use social media to communicate in ways that are authentic and personable, the study found.

But marketers need to recognize that there are limits to their direct influence in social media. Consumers are willing to engage with food brands and companies in social media, but only if the interaction promises to enrich their lives in some tangible way, such as providing useful information, money-saving deals or entertainment, the study found.

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.

Ned Smith

Ned was senior writer at Sweeney Vesty, an international consulting firm, and was Vice President of communications for iQuest Analytics. Before that, he has been a web editor and managed the Internet and intranet sites for Citizens Communications. He began his journalism career as a police reporter with the Roanoke (Va.) Times, and was managing editor of American Way magazine and senior editor of Us. He was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and has a masters in journalism from the University of Arizona.