Ever since we published the Social Media Measurement In China report (and accompanying blog post) last year, marketers in China have been constantly asking us if we have any case studies. This year, we interviewed Nestlé China, one of the few marketers in China that has started to measure the link between social media metrics and business outcomes rather than basic volume and engagement metrics. The result: our new Case Study: Nestlé China Raises The Social Media Measurement Bar For Its Ice Cream Brands report.

Nestlé China's ice cream business unit has two major brands: BenNaNa and Five Rams. BenNaNa is an unusual ice cream stick with a peelable jelly shell that shapes the ice cream, which is eaten just like a real banana. Because of its playfulness, BenNaNa is the No. 1 kids’ brand in China and is also popular among young consumers. Five Rams, a local brand that has been based in Guangzhou for more than 50 years, was licensed by Nestlé in the 1990s. As a regional brand, Five Rams is the category leader in Guangdong province.

Nestlé started using social media in 2012. For the first two years, the company confined its social marketing efforts mostly to Sina Weibo, as it had tested other platforms but did not find any that generated good performance. Starting this year, the Nestlé marketing team added WeChat to its social spectrum and gradually shifted its efforts to this rapidly growing mobile social platform.

Since 2012, Nestlé has gone through the three stages of social media measurement maturity that we typically observe among large brands in China:

  • Stage 1: Measure volume. In 2012, Nestlé was mainly at this initial stage. Like most marketers in China, Nestlé's Weibo marketing started with collecting fans and measuring basic volume metrics.
  • Stage 2: Measure engagement. In 2013, Nestlé started to improve its social media measurement initiatives, with a new focus on both quantity and quality of engagement generated.
  • Stage 3: Measure business outcomes. Nestlé is still at the beginning of this stage, but had a few early examples of successfully linking social activities to business outcomes.

As social media programs mature, they have a positive impact on business outcomes. In this period, Five Rams has clocked 15% year-on-year growth versus a category growth of only 5%, while awareness of the BenNaNa brand has grown by 36%.

To understand what drives social media measurement success at Nestlé’s ice cream business, and how social marketers in China need to refine their measurement approach, please read the full report.