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To influence means to affect people’s behavior. Food vloggers do so by giving us the munchies. Brands can learn from Philippines-based Jollibee, and how the fast-food chain with over 3,000 outlets worldwide uses influencer marketing on YouTube to increase its foothold in America. The company has 37 stores spread across New York, California, Texas, and six other states. And it plans to expand to 150 U.S. stores within five years.
Jollibee’s U.S. stores are famous within the Filipino-American community for having long lines. But despite $3.4 billion in 2017 revenue, the franchise known as the “McDonald’s of the Philippines” is unfamiliar to most Americans.
The challenge for the marketing team is to make the company’s menu appeal to a diverse American demographic, including those who don’t necessarily live in a dense Filipino-American populated city like New York, Los Angeles, or San Francisco.
Influencer Marketing on Steroids
Enter “mukbang” food-eating videos, which are among the most clever influencer marketing campaigns on YouTube. Jollibee invites owners of semi-popular and famous channels to devour ethnic fast food in exchange for free meals.
Because giving coupons is extremely cost-efficient (at least in Jollibee’s case). YouTube ad impressions on average cost between $0.10 – $0.30 per view, according to InfluencerMarketingHub.com. Thus, 100,000 views can cost a brand $20,000.
Why not contact influencers and offer free wings and noodles and Coke for a few months or so?
While Jollibee hasn’t disclosed its influencer marketing practices in the U.S., a couple of mukbang vloggers admitted that the company gave influencers coupons so they can feast on free food and vlog to their stomach’s desires. Influencers prominently display the Jollibee logo and menu items on their videos, which often get hundreds of thousands or even millions of views.
Chowing Down Unfamiliar Food
A mukbang video is essentially food-porn. In Jollibee’s case, vloggers gorge on tangy-flavored spaghetti, pancit palabok (shrimp- and egg-topped noodles), peach-mango pie, and halo-halo (shaved ice paired with sweet ingredients).
But the main act involves a human tongue tasting scrumptious thighs and breasts. (Fried chicken, that is.)
Bretman Rock, which has 6 million YouTube subscribers, has had Chelsea Handler as a guest. His mukbang got 9.6 million views.
A Ton of Audience Engagement
There’s synergy on both sides: Jollibee gets inexpensive but massive exposure, and channel owners get fed while growing their subscribers.
So why do these videos get a ton of comments?
They appeal to our reptilian side: Underneath the (artificial) social masks we wear at work or school, we’re reminded of the fangs we happily use to chomp on those aloha burgers, cheesy hotdogs, and ube ice cream.
Moreover, there’s something magnetic about people who eat exotic dishes that are strategically placed near your nostrils (albeit on a digital screen). Each bite of that crispy and juicy Chicken Joy (Jollibee’s flagship product) gives a cathartic release to the carnivore who rips apart those wings and thighs.
It’s also amusing to observe some Americans (and Europeans) hate the palabok, or love the pineapple juice. Things aren’t scripted, and we see authentic reviews to satisfy our curiosities.
“[Jollibee] is going to be up there when we talk about Chick-fil-A and KFC. ‘Who’s got the best chicken?’,” Kara Nielsen, vice president of food consulting firm CCD Helmsman, tells CNBC Make It. “That I could see happening.”
Marketers must understand what drives engagement in today’s 24/7 social world.
Millennials and Generation Z love content that’s funny and genuine, and which allows them to become explorers of world cuisine – even if it’s just for the duration of a video. That being effective doesn’t have to be expensive, either.
Is influencer marketing the future of marketing? Find out in this infographic!