Unsolicited comments and feedback on social media hold tremendous potential for identifying new market opportunities and unmet consumer needs. In addition, the interest and affinities of social media users are increasingly available to determine the right new opportunity at the right time. This blog post will examine one of the leading edges of social media analytics: discovering new, untapped market opportunities.

One approach to increase sales and boost revenue is to expand into new markets and attract new customers. While this process offers great rewards, it requires a comprehensive marketing and advertising strategy. A successful campaign relies on a thorough understanding of the target market as well as the interests of potential customers.

How do marketers design successful marketing strategies that identify and attract new customers? Often times, new advertising strategies rely on market expertise and a fair amount of trial and error. While information may be gained through focus groups and the study of competitors’ strategies, the insights gained are extremely limited and expensive to come by. In contrast, social media analysis facilitates the collection and organisation of comprehensive data and the development of successful strategies by providing marketers with access to consumers’ unsolicited conversations, opinions, and even interests.

Social media analysis provides marketers with a plethora of tools that generate insightful understandings of customers, markets, and opportunities. Better strategies are created when volume, sentiments and topics of conversation, and consumer interests are identified. Gaining a comprehensive understanding of customers’ interests gives marketers the information they need to design successful and efficient marketing strategies.

The insights that social media analysis offers are particularly useful when businesses are expanding into new markets. One recent phenomenon that Londoners are familiar with is the recent explosion of Mexican-inspired burrito restaurant chains. Chipotle Mexican Grill, an American chain, entered the UK market in 2010 and has six restaurants in London. Another example is Tortilla, a UK burrito chain that opened in 2007, that has a total of 17 restaurants in London as well as in Leeds and Brighton. While Chipotle has experienced strong success in the United States, it has not performed well in the UK and sales lag behind many smaller competitors.

A variety of different explanations have been advanced to explain Chipotle’s lack of success including higher prices and atmosphere. Chipotle’s minimalist decor may be a turn off for customers who are looking for a more authentic Mexican experience as is the price, £6.95, which is higher than other burrito restaurants as well as chains such as Pret A Manger and Costa.

Chipotle’s disappointing performance in the UK has inspired greater focus on cost effective marketing strategies to try and boost sales and awareness of the brand’s presence. How can social media analysis better inform Chipotle’s new strategies? A look into consumer interests can help to maximise Chipotle’s UK marketing strategies.

Crimson Hexagon offers customers cutting-edge technology that enables powerful social media analysis and use of a new feature, AffinitiesTM analysis. Now, marketers can study consumer conversation as well as the underlying interests of those participating. This insight can provide invaluable guidance for businesses entering new markets.

Interestingly, there does not appear to be a significant difference in the interests of Chipotle consumers in the US and UK. Both groups appear to be interested in sport. However, consumers in the US are much more interested in baseball, basketball, and hockey, while those in the UK are more likely to discuss football teams such as Manchester United, Liverpool, and Chelsea.

Comparing the customers at Chipotle and Tortilla highlights a difference that may influence success: age of consumer. Chipotle customers show a greater interest in sports. Authors talking about Chipotle online are 13 times more likely to be interested in ESPN than authors talking about Tortilla. Other topics of interest popular with young people, including One Direction, MTV, and university, are also interests aligned with Chipotle.

In contrast, people talking about Tortilla appear to be older, the strongest distinction being that their interest in children is 16 times greater than people discussing Chipotle. While they also show interest in sports, they are twice as interested in news sources such as BBC and The Guardian than Chipotle consumers.

Using Affinities analysis in Crimson Hexagon’s ForSight platform, we see that Chipotle’s engaged market in the UK is young and active. In order to gain traction with their engaged market segments, Chipotle could consider offering promotions to university students and feature younger people enjoying time with friends at Chipotle in their advertisements. Knowing they are successful in engaging younger customers, Chipotle could also consider adding new restaurant locations where adolescents and young adults go to school and university, and where they live. Bringing a social feel to restaurants may also increase interest with younger consumers, who have already demonstrated interest in the chain.

Although Chipotle has experienced tremendous success in the US market, it has struggled in the UK. Social media analysis helps to explain why, and how they can improve their market share. A marketing strategy that maximises consumers in the younger demographics will be extremely beneficial. With so many burrito restaurants to choose from, Chipotle needs to maximise its customer base by understanding the demands and opportunities of its markets.

Luke Moore

Luke Moore


Luke Moore is UK Regional Sales Manager at Crimson Hexagon.