CPG brands get creative

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From pudding to potato chips, the world of consumer packaged goods is getting more and more crowded. As consumers enjoy a wide variety of options, many marketers are going above and beyond the typical cents-off coupon in order to reach their target shoppers.

“Winning at the shelf is more important than ever,” says Bruce Miller, director of consumer promotions for Sara Lee Food & Beverage. “We are developing programs and offers that focus on the changing target shopper and their habits, how they shop the store and what they have in their basket.”

Today, manufacturers compete not only with each other for customer loyalty, but also with retailers who may carry their own successful brands.

“Retailers are operating a lot like CPG companies did 10 or 15 years ago,” says Craig Treankler, EVP of OgilvyAction Chicago. “They are beginning to operate as brand marketers.”

Tina Manikas, chief global retail and promotion officer at DraftFCB, says that manufacturers need to appeal not just to consumers, but to their retail partners, by helping them to stand out in terms of variables such as price, value, size or flavor. Because CPG brands no longer make or break stores in terms of helping them compete in the marketplace, they are expected to help retailers differentiate. “Now, a retailer has just as strong a brand, so it says, ‘you've got to do something special for me,'” she explains.

Consumers aren't easy to please, either. Price-related offers, for example, are often no longer enough to grab their attention. According to Treankler, price reduction may mean a quick fix, but it doesn't create loyal customers. That's why creating news around a product — for example, through health claims or product enhancement — is now a must for marketers.

To that end, marketers are turning to online promotions such as contests, quizzes and games, because they are low-cost, highly measurable and can help create a more significant relationship with the customer. “[Marketers are] being smart about the media and vehicles they use to deliver their message,” Treankler says.

Standout promotions or special events are also being developed to spur consumer interest. Incorporating a seasonal tie-in or developing an out-of-the-box campaign can give a brand a distinct personality and allow the consumer to personally relate to the product. Last January, Randolph, MA-based Stacy's Pita Chip Company created a promotion tied to Super Bowl Sunday, which saw product samples sent to women named Stacy.

“We didn't want to do a totally traditional campaign, because our loyal fans say they like that they discovered the product in an organic way,” explains Steve Sears, the company's director of marketing.

Marketers are also reaching consumers through demographic-specific
channels. For example, Panos Brands targeted 18-35 year olds in a contest inviting users to create their own streaming video featuring the
Ka-Me Boxed Noodle and Rice Meals product.

“We have a hard time getting to that demographic through traditional
media,” admits Martin Solerno, senior product manager at Panos Brands. “So, we tried to go through the medium we felt appealed to them.”

Ultimately, marketers need to be resourceful. “I think marketers have to get more creative because consumers have a lot thrown at them,” says Manikas. “The idea is to keep innovating.”



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