Starcount uncovers link between Twitter followers and supermarket Christmas sales


Christmas supermarket sale success can be correlated to an increase in two categories of Twitter followers, according to new research from Starcount, the predictive insight company.

After analysing the followers of seven major supermarkets, including Aldi, Asda, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose, Starcount discovered that gaining new followers who are passionate about food and supermarkets can be linked to sales performance over the Christmas period.

Starcount found that analysing a supermarket’s overall Twitter followers did not necessarily relate to their Christmas sales figures. However, when analysis was focused on the relevant clusters of followers, a clear pattern emerged.

Starcount divided the supermarkets’ 2015 Twitter audiences into in eight segments, based on their followers’ passions. Theses segments included:

  • Daytime Television
  • Supermarkets
  • Saturday Night Television
  • Beauty & High Street Fashion
  • Foodies
  • Varied Passions
  • Popular Culture
  • Brands & Mothers

Removing interests deemed too broad and groups that were too small to have an impact on their findings, Starcount’s data scientists were left with the groups ‘Foodies’ and ‘Supermarkets’.

This specific data revealed a correlation between an increase in followers within these specialised segments and healthy Christmas sales.

For example, Aldi saw an 80% increase in combined Foodie and Supermarket followers, paired with an impressive 13% increase in sales.

Similarly, Morrisons defied market predictions and reported an unexpected 0.2% rise in sales – the first rise in sales for more than a year. Starcount’s data showed a 76% increase in the two crucial Twitter segments.

Conversely, Waitrose suffered from a 1.4% decrease in sales across its established stores, which coincided with a lower Foodie and Supermarket follower uptake of 39%.

Interestingly, although Marks & Spencer’s food business rose by 0.4% – which Starcount associates with a 67% increase in Foodie followers – sales of general merchandise slumped by 5.8%. This decrease corresponded with a low uptake (25%) of the companies’ overall Supermarket followers.

Clive Humby, chief data scientist at Starcount, said: “Twitter can offer unprecedented insight into target audiences, and yet many businesses are not using it to its full advantage.

“Through our research, we can for the first time see a direct correlation between sales figures and Twitter followers, by drilling down into the complex nature of people’s passions. We found that Twitter followers should not be viewed as a faceless collective, but as a multifaceted group with different desires and interests.

“To gain the upper hand with customers, businesses should be less concerned with the number of Twitter followers they have, and instead start to look at the passions that matter to these followers, and consequently to their business.”


Overall follower growth


Overall Foodie and Supermarket follower growth





Foodie and Supermarket follower growth by group

Foodie and Supermarket follower growth by group