Buy, Cook, Eat: How Brands Can Align With Food on YouTube

According to Google, Cooking and Food is the fastest growing content segment on YouTube, with passionate foodie fans powering a 280% growth in food channel subscriptions over the past year.

For brands looking to align themselves with the biggest food trends on YouTube, the full consumer cycle is on display thanks to fans. From videos about grocery shopping and trips to the farmers market, to cooking shows and how-tos, to taste tests and food reviews, the opportunities for brands to reach their fans are widespread and diverse.

Aligning with the right videos, whether through advertising or partnering with the top influencers, is all about understanding what makes this food-loving fan community so hungry to watch.

Buying the Food

For fans looking to cook their own meals, it all starts with buying the right ingredients. “Haul” videos reveal the details of trips to grocery stores and farmers markets, helping viewers plan for how to best spend their time and money. Here’s how one video creator, Anna Saccone, described her “Weekly Grocery Haul” video:

“Here’s what I buy in a week for our family’s groceries, as well as how I meal plan! Hope you guys enjoy and maybe find it helpful! xoxo Anna”

Rosanna Pansino, one of the top influencers on YouTube in the food category, created a “What’s In My Fridge and Kitchen Tour!” video. Her fans had begged her to do this tour, presumably for the benefit of learning how properly organize their own kitchens at home:

As the shelf full of Perrier demonstrates in the video above, the opportunities for product placement here is pretty clear. Though, since it’s important for influencers to maintain that sense of trust they have built with their audience, approaching any brand integration deals with influencers requires a deep understanding of the community. As Rosanna explains in the video above, many influencers are happy to display their favorite brands out of genuine passion: “I am not sponsored by any of the products or brands talked about in this video. All of the brands I mention are things I use and enjoy.”

Cooking the Food

The bulk of what makes YouTube so great for food is actually seeing the cooking process from start to finish. People want to know how to turn their food into delicious meals and YouTube is where they turn for help. While many of the shows resemble traditional TV cooking shows in style and structure, YouTube provides the benefit of being able to pause the video and follow along with the recipe as you cook in your own kitchen, creating a highly convenient “visual cookbook.”

Are you a college freshman trying to master homemade mac and cheese? YouTube has you covered:

Note: Brands should pay special attention to the very beginning of that video, when the creator says, “This episode is brought to you by San Remo, creating recipes for the whole family.” The pasta brand San Remo has identified an opportunity to work with this YouTuber, and the result is a very targeted impression for any would-be macaroni buyers.

Pick a food, and YouTube will teach you how to cook with it. Using ZEFR search tech, we ran a search for cooking videos involving cheese, and here is what we found:

food on youtube cooking with cheese

A lot of brands, especially grocers in the UK, have taken to sponsoring cooking shows. Tesco has sponsored Sorted Food, a highly interactive British cooking channel:

“…The guys at Tesco have asked us to take some everyday ingredients and use them to create three incredible dishes.”

Sainsbury, another British grocer, has sponsored a web series with Beauty Guru Fleur De Force and her husband Mike, called “Food with Fleur and Mike,” which is hosted on Sainsbury’s YouTube channel. The show crosses over into Fleur’s vlogs, exposing her own fans to Sainsbury:

In the world of liquid food, aka drinks, yet another example of this sponsorship trend comes from multichannel network Tastemade, who recently started a new series called Local Flight, which is sponsored by Grey Goose Vodka. As seen in the video below, the host of Local Flight travels to different bars and challenges bartenders to create cocktails from unique local ingredients:

Perhaps one of the most popular cooking shows, watched more for entertainment than instruction, is Hannah Hart’s My Drunk Kitchen, in which she drinks with other YouTubers as they attempt to follow a recipe. More than anything, Hannah’s show reveals what makes YouTube cooking shows so special – namely, the ability to connect directly into someone else’s home kitchen and watch them cook, creating an authentic, and sometimes ridiculous, experience unlike anything you will find on regular television:

Eating the Food

Of course, eating food is perhaps the most enjoyable part of cooking, though, eating on YouTube is less about what’s eaten, and more about the eater. The result is some big personalities that have mastered the art of the food review.

Daym Drops, who focuses his bold personality on the world of fast food, has a unique visual style, usually filming from his car. Here is what he has to say about the McDonald’s “Big Mac” vs. Burger King “Big King” debate:

Interestingly, perhaps as indicative of a wider health trend, Dayum Drops has even recently made a shift towards showcasing “healthier” food options. As he explains, “Going forward every Monday, JP will focus his talent towards those who are more so about healthier options and love to cook AT HOME!”

Another popular YouTube trend is eating international cuisine and documenting first impressions. Here is a video of three British girls after a trip to a Florida grocery store while on vacation:

Reading through the comments, their American fans are happy to offer suggestions:

food and cooking on youtube

Opportunities to Connect Food Brands and Food Fans

As food makes its journey from the farm, to the kitchen, and into the belly, fans are creating videos each step of the way, driving millions of views across YouTube. In the process, there are plenty of opportunities for brands to align with the varied tastes of whatever audience they want to reach. They key is to identify the right videos and influencers that work best for a campaign. Thankfully, YouTube’s wide range of diversity, along with its enormous scale, means that practically any campaign can find a home.


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