Paid Media in 2023 for Food & Beverage Brands

If you don’t know us, we are an agency that works primarily in the paid media space, with Food & Beverage brands. Think brands you find at Whole Foods, Kroger Stores, Publix etc. that also sell on Amazon and directly on their websites. Likely similar to many of the brands who will read this.



We get paid to strategize budgets to best drive in-store velocity and online sales. Plain and simple. Here is our budget, tell us where to spend it, and how to get sales. Our performance is judged almost entirely on Return on Ad Spend, on whatever platforms we are managing. We have the benefit of working with 10-15 other F&B brands, to piggyback off of, and better understand success and trends and leverage that knowledge across all our partners.

Gawronski Media (now Gawronski Food & Beverage) started about 5.5 years ago in 2018. We’ve seen consumer trends pre-covid, during covid, and now in Q3 of 2023.

Although a biased insight, we’d like to say we’ve been fairly accurate in predicting where the space is going, for reference, check this NOSH article from Fall of 2021, predicting what 2022 would look like. It’s safe to say we were spot on.

We’ve also seen the way brands react (mostly overreact) to these trends, on a monthly basis. In fact, I wrote an article last August called “Paid Media Mistakes to Avoid (for F&B brands)”. We saw the writing on the wall based on social posts and commentary from our clients. Although their comments had weight to them, they seemed like early overreactions and very general concerns.

We thought it would be interesting to informally bullet and compile the talking points of feedback from brands over the past 5+ years in a timeline:

Here are the popular trends we see around Linkedin and hear from brands nowadays:

  • Everyone is wasting their time keeping their TikTok handles active.
  • Don’t sell on Amazon, they take all of your money and you don’t get your customer data.
  • DTC is dead. Paid Social ROAS is low, and buying behavior isn’t and will never be what it was.
  • Organic is useless, no one sees your posts and with all the new platforms coming and going, it’s hard to keep up.
  • Allocate all budget to Instacart and retail media.

Here is what everyone was saying the past two years:

  • We want to allocate all content, $’s and effort towards TikTok. Everyone is on TikTok. Linkedin was full of brands sharing egregious sales metrics they were generating from organic posts.
  • Our Paid Social and Google ROAS are starting to drop with the new IOS security updates.
  • We know we need to start advertising on Instacart, but we don’t know how Instacart works?

During Covid, the obvious:

  • Full focus on DTC. Paid Social, Google, Amazon. Everyone is at home, bored, and willing to try new brands.
  • Sell and spend as much as possible, unless we have inventory or operations issues.

Here is what everyone was saying when we started in 2018:

  • We want to drive geo-targeted awareness around our retail locations. This was about all anyone was doing to help fuel in-store sales.
  • We are more focused on our organic presence than paid media. We want to prove we can drive sales organically.
  • All of our competitors are getting on Amazon, we want to upload our products to Amazon and sell there.
  • DTC is our best option for profitability, we want to model dollar shave club, MVMT watches, Warby Parker, etc.

Here is what we know. 

  • Paid Media is frustrating. We get this. That’s why we try to help best allocate your advertising $’s to help reach your overall goal.
  • There will ALWAYS be sharp twists and turns with online trends and Food & Beverage brands.
  • All of these platforms are still here, that is the constant. All of these platforms serve their own purpose, and play their role in your digital ecosystem. All of these platforms can influence your brand in different ways than others.
  • YOU CAN’T listen to what other brands are saying. All of your products are different. Most of your consumers have different buying habits. Each of your strategies is unique to you brand.
  • YOU MUST be where your consumers are. Plain and simple. 



I would be shocked if brands didn’t look at this list, and counter most of my bullets to their own personal successes they were experiencing, or are experiencing now. That was my point. What you are hearing will never directly apply to your brand specifically.

We are in the age of looking at paid media as a menu. Stay the course and only pick and choose platforms that makes your brand successful. Most of your menus include the following:

  • Instacart-  (retail sales)
  • Specific Retail Media (criteo, citrus, walmart etc)- (retail sales)
  • Google/YT- (Direct to Consumer Sales)
  • Facebook/Instagram- (Direct to Consumer Sales & In-store Awareness)
  • TikTok- (Direct to Consumer Sales & In-store Awareness)
  • Amazon- (Direct to Consumer Sales)


The trends are inevitable, but you must stay true to your brands core consumer, and where they are buying or learning. Match your priorities with the platforms above, and invest accordingly. Don’t look at what Liquid Death did, or PRIME, or any of those anomalies. I hate to break it to you, you aren’t them, and they aren’t you. This industry requires adspend investment, and allocating focus on ONLY the most profitable platforms.

If you are interested in working together email, or fill out the box below.

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