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What Can Marketers Learn From The 'End of Pods' Story?

I love the NZ Social Scoreboard on Zavy. It takes me down rabbit holes, mostly related to snacks. Kiwis love snacks. As a nation, we love to sound off in the comments about niche Kiwi confectionary and fast-food items.

The KFC spicy ice cream was a big deal last month. The new liquorice Toffee Pop flavour was major news – one (of several) competition posts on the pop earned 6,300 comments. Whittaker’s treated us to not one, but two new flavours for Mother’s Day, with the bonus of helping a cause (which is lovely and smart – brands that do CSR on social media earn almost double the engagement per follower than brands that don’t ). As I type, New World’s competition post celebrating the Raspberry Jube Squiggle has earned over 1,100 comments.

Like when Brad Pitt guest starred on Friends, the one thing that’s better than a novelty snack is a cross-over novelty snack. Just ask the Chocolate Lovers (Whittaker’s), Roadies (Lewis Road Creamery) or the Picsters (Pics). From the much-anticipated chocolate peanut butter to Gingernut flavoured milk and L&P lumps, these snack moments earn the kind of earnest, in-depth review comments that we’re sure social media channel managers love to receive:

“I’ve tried them, and i hate to be honest Pascall, they have no L&P flavour at all but i did enjoy the Jaffas Lumps and Perky Nana Lumps although i did find the 2nd/second batch of Perky Nana Lumps a bit too strong”.

“Sorry, here is where I get off. I am a purist with peanut butter – nary should chocolate and peanut butter be a mix. I’ll stay my purist path.”

“My son and I LOVE gingernuts but I have to say this drink was feral.”

In all seriousness, most of these snack reviews are very enthusiastic expressions of love. But no matter where you sit on L&P versus Pineapple Lump issue, there’s a sense of passion. These snacks mean something to people.  

Pods – a cultural lightning rod

We shouldn’t have been surprised to see that while we had lots of big news over the last month (*cough* Trans-Tasman bubble *cough*) there was one story that really got Kiwis talking on social: the end of Pods.

For a nation as snack obsessed as New Zealand, this was a black swan social media event. Pods by their very nature are novelty, cross-over items. A pod is the proto-novelty-cross-over snack. Taking an existential perspective, without a cross over, would the Pod exist? Turns out, that as of April 2021, they weren’t going to exist in New Zealand at all. Was there outcry? You bet.

The Pods story was covered by The Herald, One News, News Hub, The Spinoff, The Edge, ZM, Flava and Mai FM. Zavy Radar shows that Mai FM’s post, “It was announced today that Pods have officially been discontinued, meaning they join other iconic Kiwi snacks in heaven #rippods” as the top post across New Zealand social media since 1 April 2021. There are over 12,000 comments on it – a sold-out Spark Arena of engagement. Over 3,000 people shared it. And kudos to Mai FM, it’s not a competition driving engagement.

What can marketers learn from the end of Pods? Cultural relevance + timeliness.

Why? Culturally relevant posts earn, on average, seven times the engagement than other types of posts. Perhaps our love of snacks has some cultural significance. L&P, pies, Kiwi burgers, Frujus,  Tangy Fruits,  Toppas – they’re woven into the tapestry of Kiwi life.

Mai FM’s post taps into that sense of ‘Kiwiness’. There’s a dry New Zealand sense of humour, references to snacks that generations of New Zealanders’ miss (it’s that whole insider thing – “if you know, you know”).  It was timely, too – the post went up on the day of the announcement, with a meme-like graphic that got people’s attention. Thumb-stopping, relevant, funny and culturally on point. Good on Mai FM for seizing the moment and providing Kiwis with a space to mourn yet another beloved snack – #rippods.

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© Zavy 2021
© Zavy 2021