Word-of-mouth research company BuzzMetrics has developed a panel of 400 nutrition opinion leaders. It will use the panel to gather leading trend indicators for consumer packaged goods (CPG) clients. The company says it's signed four of the world's largest CPG companies as charter clients for the service, called NutritionBuzz. It declined to name the new clients.
BuzzMetrics assembled the NutritionBuzz panel by observing online discussions on message boards, blogs, and other forums where nutrition-related dialogue takes place. In doing so, it identified 400 individuals it believes to be influential in helping people form opinions about nutritional issues. Those individuals, the company says, influenced 160,000 others through information exchanges over the past six months.
"We focus on their commentary to understand what nutrition trends are on the horizon," said Jonathan Carson, BuzzMetrics president and CEO.
The company divided those 400 individuals into six segments: dieters, fitness buffs, diabetics, conscientious consumers, heads of household, and general interest consumers. BuzzMetrics makes note of the influencers' user handles, crawls the Web to download the content of their comments, then assembles all the data in a searchable format. BuzzMetrics either provides clients with reports or allows them access to a Web-based interface so they have direct access to the data.
"We track the level of activity," said Carson. "Then we do deeper dives on a few dozen specific issues that we deem the most important or most viable potential trends."
The idea, says Carson, is to help CPG companies avoid being taken by surprise by nutritional trends, such as the low-carb craze to which CPG firms were slow to react. That gave start-up companies an edge in the market. Carson says BuzzMetrics is currently seeing a lot of backlash against high fructose corn syrup, along with plenty of discussion about alternative sweeteners. Omega-3 fatty acids are also the subject of a lot of online discussion, the company said.
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Pamela Parker is a former managing editor of ClickZ News, Features, and Experts. She's been covering interactive advertising and marketing since the boom days of 1999, chronicling the dot-com crash and the subsequent rise of the medium. Before working at ClickZ, Parker was associate editor at @NY, a pioneering Web site and e-mail newsletter covering New York new media start-ups. Parker received a master's degree in journalism, with a concentration in new media, from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.
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