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Land O’Lakes, Inc.

Learn how Brandwatch is transforming market and consumer research at Land O’Lakes, saving them hundreds of thousands of dollars

CASE STUDYLand O’Lakes, Inc.

Land O’Lakes’ corporate marketing analytics team has had an incredibly busy few months. Covid-19 has totally transformed consumer demand, and they’re dealing with more and more interest from across the business in the insights they generate.

In this case study, we’ll run through the many and varied ways Land O’Lakes uses Brandwatch solutions, as well as how they’re approaching digital consumer intelligence beyond corporate marketing.

Throughout, you’ll hear from Land O’Lakes’ Director, Marketing Analytics Lauren Hougas and Marketing Data Scientist Bradley Boldenow, who work across various business units, on how they’ve been leveraging Brandwatch insights.

Land O’Lakes’ journey with Brandwatch

Seeing the potential

The team started off with social listening about a year ago, when they found themselves at the centre of a heated online debate. It was vital that they understood what was being said about them and how their consumers felt in real time, but the listening they had access to came at a big cost and included a lot of manual work, all done via an agency.

Lauren, Director, Marketing Analytics, recognized that there was more that could be done with the data, especially if they had access to the tech in-house. There were bigger business questions that digital consumer intelligence technology could answer.

“It’s great that we can monitor our brands and do crisis comms but if we have this data we should be doing a hell of a lot more,” Lauren said.

Finding the right tool

When the team looked for a tool, the number one thing they wanted was technology they could rely on – technology that would minimize any manual work needed on the part of the team.

“We needed tech that had AI and alerts, that was really easy to use. No one was going to be dedicated to this – we needed it to be easy for marketers to just go in and see what was going on,” says Lauren.

When the company decided on Brandwatch, their Customer Success Manager Connor Milligan worked with them to have the whole team set up as soon as they needed to be. They signed on December 23 2019. They were fully up and running with all the capabilities they needed by January 1 2020.

“We flipped the switch and we were off. Normally when we launch technologies there’s all this IT time to get everything running. We just turned it on and got going because it’s that easy to use.”
— Lauren Hougas, Director, Marketing Analytics at Land O’Lakes

Maturing use cases

The use cases they were most concerned with were marketing-based, which we’ll discuss later, but the market researchers in the analytics team quickly began scoping out other ways Brandwatch could help others across the business. Now, some of Land O’Lakes’ Brandwatch capabilities include:

  • Real-time crisis monitoring: The team can be alerted to and start tracking potential reputational threats within minutes, before a problem develops into a viral story,  and distribute insights to the relevant teams.
  • In-depth audience analysis: The team is able to keep track of conversation from key consumer groups, like new chicken-owners or farmers and growers of the future, to help inform their content strategy.
  • Quality monitoring: Even teams like quality control are leveraging Brandwatch insights. This includes being automatically alerted to potential issues with products for speedy follow up.

Return on investment

The analytics team were able to feel the return on their investment almost immediately.

“Our martech stack is under constant scrutiny – I have to defend every dollar,” says Lauren. “Our initial use case justified the spend on Brandwatch in two weeks. Now it’s all extra things that we couldn’t have done before.”

One example of that ROI is when the team used Brandwatch to perform some audience analysis (something we’ll discuss in more detail later). The team had previously been paying an agency to do this for them.

“Previously we were paying an agency $85k a year to do this – bringing it in-house, that cost saving is huge.”
— Lauren Hougas, Director, Marketing Analytics at Land O’Lakes

To keep track of savings made by using Brandwatch tools, the team has set up a spreadsheet. “We keep a running excel sheet that we add to every time we’ve used Brandwatch for something that would have cost money,” says Lauren.

“We went over it with the CMO last week and we have hundreds of thousands of dollars already in money we didn’t have to spend because we had Brandwatch.”
— Lauren Hougas, Director, Marketing Analytics at Land O’Lakes

Covid-19’s impact on the team

Land O’Lakes had only been working with Brandwatch for a few months when the Covid-19 outbreak took the world by storm.

The team suddenly had far more requests than usual, and they’d need to draw on the talents of everyone in the analytics team to answer them.

“The pandemic was a real catalyst for adoption at Land O’Lakes. All our business units needed insights into how Covid-19 was changing the behaviors of our customers. Brandwatch was the tool that could support this need.”
— Lauren Hougas, Director, Marketing Analytics at Land O’Lakes

One surprising example of new behaviors was people panic-buying live chickens. Land O’Lakes’ animal nutrition division quickly found it had a whole new kind of customer to cater to – one that didn’t really know how to look after chickens.

“During Covid-19 people were buying chickens at record levels, and many of them had never bought chickens before,” says Bradley. “The people we’re used to marketing to are very different and have very different needs. But to help new chicken-owners be successful in raising chickens was a really high value opportunity for us.”

“As this market was born, practically overnight, we were able to use Brandwatch to get specific insights on what this audience was interested in and what they needed support with, so we could cater experiences on our digital channels to meet their needs.”
— Bradley Boldenow, Marketing Data Scientist at Land O’Lakes

Use case spotlights

Let’s dive into some of the ways Land O’Lakes has used Brandwatch so far in 2020.

Use case spotlight: Crisis monitoring

Very recently, a Land O’Lakes’ partner was involved in a high profile story online.

“It went from irrelevant on Twitter to the number one trending topic,” said Bradley. “Within a few minutes, we’d set up a query and a dashboard and shared it with the people who needed to see it. For example, it was used by the sales team to understand what was going on in the public eye and help them have constructive conversations.”

“This is another really cool example of how something happens in a matter of minutes and using Brandwatch we can set something up that matches that timeframe.”
— Bradley Boldenow, Marketing Data Scientist at Land O’Lakes

Use case spotlight: Audience analysis

Farming and agriculture is a pretty volatile space, and things are constantly changing. The team wants to stay up to date with how the farmers and growers they work with are feeling and thinking.

“We were able to leverage Brandwatch to build an audience of key large farmers that we’re able to use to get consistent insights and keep consistent tabs on what’s in focus or a challenge to them as things change,” says Bradley. “These insights that we pull have already become a part of the monthly reporting we provide to the WinField United marketing team. It’s extremely valuable to arm our marketers with that additional layer of context.”

Lauren describes how the marketing calendar could be compared alongside how farmers were talking about different topics over time. Where there was a disconnect, plans could be changed to better serve their audience.

Things weren’t always so simple. “Previously we were paying an agency $85k a year to do this,” says Lauren. “Bringing it in-house, that cost saving is huge.”

Use case spotlight: Smart social activations

Perhaps a more conventional item than live chickens that was panic-bought during the initial few weeks of the Covid-19 outbreak was butter. Land O’Lakes found that their products were flying off the shelves, and reacted quickly to the trend.

“We didn’t want to generate more demand,” says Lauren. “Instead, we wanted to nurture relationships with people who had bought lots of butter.”

Bradley and his teammates set up a query and a dashboard for the social media team so they could capture common questions people were asking around butter and what they could or couldn’t do with it. This enabled them to create content that answered those key questions just in time.

“Something Brandwatch has been really valuable in is finding and enabling new social activations based on the needs of our consumers,” says Bradley.

“Brandwatch allows us to arm our social marketers with granular insights. We were able to create content in this unique time period when consumers needed it. It’s just one example of how Brandwatch is driving our social strategy to match the needs of our consumers.”
— Bradley Boldenow, Marketing Data Scientist at Land O’Lakes

Use case spotlight: Quality control

A great example of how Brandwatch insights are used beyond the corporate marketing department at Land O’Lakes is in quality control.

The analytics team created alerts that identified problems with products. “This is anyone saying something might be wrong with the product – the food is crumbly, the cheese is sour, or whatever it may be,” says Lauren.

Previously, feedback like this just wouldn’t have been picked up by quality control. Now, with the new alerts and dashboard, mentions can be continuously monitored and issues can be swiftly dealt with.

“The quality control team were able to widen the net they cast to capture quality control issues,” says Bradley. “But we did this without adding to the team’s workload by using automated alerts. The quality control team immediately saw the value in the tool. They’re now able to deep dive into things that are interesting to them and have access to the insights in this new way.”

Using AI-powered alerts, there’s no trawling through lots of mentions manually to work out if there are any issues. Instead, the right team is notified right away about what the issue is.

Lauren gives the example of an alert they recently received from a website called backyardchickens.com – a place where chicken owners post about their concerns and get advice. In the alert, a few people had noted the feed they had bought was crumbly.

“We realized based on the posts the issue was probably coming from a certain store, so we were able to investigate from there,” says Lauren. “When people are unhappy, they often go to these niche forums.”

“Brandwatch gives us visibility into areas we would never have seen before, giving us information we couldn’t get elsewhere.”
— Lauren Hougas, Director, Marketing Analytics at Land O’Lakes

Use case spotlight: Competitive insights

Before the team had access to Brandwatch, competitive insights were gathered manually. Now, marketers can dip into dashboards to find out everything they need to know about how consumers are talking about competitors.

This simple but important use case has helped drive adoption across the team, Bradley says.

“With Brandwatch, we bring all our competitor data into one location where we can analyze and visualize it. Then marketers and analysts can get to those insights and bring them into whatever work they’re doing. Brandwatch makes people’s jobs easier and that familiarity helps drive adoption,” says Bradley.

Now they’ve had a taste of the insights, marketers in the team are helping to ideate new use cases for Brandwatch solutions.


Everyone at Brandwatch has been impressed with the team at Land O’Lakes. They’ve constantly strived to get value from our platform and are saving hundreds of thousands of dollars as a result. They’ve also started to embed consumer insights across different teams in the organization – something they hope to continue in the future.

“Where we want to go is to further democratize the insights we get from Brandwatch. It often starts with a use case they’re familiar with, and then they find new ways to use the tool. It’s scaling rapidly which is really cool to see.”
— Bradley Boldenow, Marketing Data Scientist at Land O’Lakes

Special thanks to Lauren and Bradley for sharing their experiences with Brandwatch.


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