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$13.7 Billion in Buzz: Whole Foods, Amazon, and the Changing Face of Grocery

Social Media Analytics, Social Media Listening

$13.7 Billion in Buzz: Whole Foods, Amazon, and the Changing Face of Grocery

Ever wanted your organic cheese delivered to your door by drone? If so, it’s your lucky day. Marking the beginning of a new era in groceries, Amazon announced on June 16th that it was purchasing Whole Foods Market for $13.7 million–a move that provoked an outpouring of social media buzz.

So, who was talking, and where? The social buzz was concentrated mainly in the United States, with 65% of the chatter occurring on Twitter. Elsewhere, nearly 20% of the talk was happening on Instagram, followed by Facebook, at 13%.

There was a fairly even split across genders and age groups, with slightly more women discussing the news on social media. Millennials (ages 25-34) had the highest volume of online conversations, at 43% of the total.

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Using the Tracx social listening tool, we analyzed the social media trends following the merger across social media, for the week of June 18th-June 25th.

Still riding the wave from the merger, both companies were gaining new fans at a fast rate across their social media.

Over the course of the week:

  • Amazon gained 35,016 new fans on Facebook
  • Whole Foods gained 12,009 new followers on Instagram
  • Amazon gained 8,731 new followers on Instagram

Beyond just sheer increases in following, we took a look at what exactly people were talking about, and how they were feeling about the announcement.

Overall, the general consensus was more negative than positive, as the acquisition provoked worries about jobs and the future of the industry. That said, men were expressing more positive sentiment than women, making up 76% of total positive sentiment online.

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Much of the negative sentiment revolved around the impact on other grocery stores (specifically to Costco and Walmart), and its repercussions on jobs. People are anticipating a switch to cheaper products to engage in a “price war” with stores like Walmart, effectively putting them in danger. The other social concern is that Amazon will slash jobs in a major way, dumping cashiers in favor of more technology.

In fact, it seems that much of the focus of people’s conversations tended towards the negative, with grocery, brick and mortar, wall street, and Walmart as the most frequent keywords driving conversations. Beyond that, the price tag of the deal ($13.7 billion) was also mentioned a lot, mostly as the butt of jokes.

The large millennial presence in the conversation was reflected by the networks that dominated the playing field. Twitter and Instagram are both platforms where millennials make up the majority of the users, and they saw much of the activity. Both brands also had a significant increase in Instagram followers—signifying a broadening of their social media presence and consumer base.

One thing that’s clear? The face of the grocery business is changing rapidly. With meal kit subscription services reaching $1.5 billion, Blue Apron’s recent IPO, and now with Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods, delivery is moving in, and traditional grocery shopping is moving out.

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