A Direct Path to Brand Marketing

Digital marketing is gaining momentum in the CPG industry. It’s taken longer than expected because of the CPG marketing conundrum: How do you influence as many consumers as possible when retailers own the last mile of the shopper journey? In the past, mass media offered the best bang (reach) for the buck.

If you look at CPG industry marketing spending patterns, however, this still appears to be the case. Brand-focused marketing continues to receive the lion’s share of budget as opposed to direct methods (a 60/40 split is what I’ve seen reported). Where brand marketing is changing is in the message delivery medium. Rather than television commercials, advertising messages are being served in a more targeted fashion via online display. You would expect this targeting to be more effective, yet marketing continues to face scrutiny and sales growth remains a challenge.

Shifting marketing mix

Are more targeted brand impressions just a different form of mass media marketing? It may be more targeted, but with branding the goal, the opportunity for an interaction-based relationship is lost. Traditional marketing mix models don’t account for ongoing engagement as a means of supporting demand. Yet that’s precisely the formula proving successful among a set of visionary CPG marketers.

There’s a movement underway to implement messaging “platforms” on which brands build their stories and engage audiences in a dialog. It’s disrupting the traditional ad agency retainer business model in that brands are starting to in-source a greater share of the overall effort to be more agile and responsive to their consumers. Marketing mix that is focused on the cause and effect of marketing tactics on sales is poorly suited to the type of ongoing engagement leading brands are moving toward today.

Content contribution

Popular brands have permission-based email lists of millions of consumers. Their websites and social media accounts receive hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of visitors a month. For the most part, the marketing campaigns that use these channels are limited time in nature and an extension of efforts to support immediate demand at the retail level—sort of mirroring the issue with traditional marketing mix models.

The challenge for any CPG marketer managing a budget is to understand the value of content and creative at the heart of successful consumer engagement. Without this insight, it becomes impossible to demonstrate value and secure greater budget for these efforts—a necessity with consumers only responsive to the most relevant and empathetic messaging.

Beyond the store

Google’s ZMOT, or Zero Moment of Truth, posits that the influence of the store visit no longer holds given consumer purchase decisions shifting to online channels. A byproduct of ZMOT put forth by Altimeter analyst Brian Solis—an Ultimate Moment of Truth or UMOT—shows where the market is heading. UMOT places consumer-created content (reviews, recommendations, social comments) at the center of the consumer decision-making process—a purchase journey that begs for better content analytics.

Attempting to increase purchase frequency profitably, or introduce a new product successfully, is unlikely if you limit your outlook to the store. Influence is most possible where consumers spend their time—which means on their phones, tablets, and computers. Bringing the two perspectives together—the brand’s consumer and the retailer’s shopper—should yield better results.

Digital truths

Brand and shopper marketers paying for agency creative and content development can demonstrate the way these investments support profitable consumer engagement. Doing so requires visibility into consumer and shopper interactions along the purchase path—no small task when this data resides with a web of internal systems, retail partners, agencies, agency contractors, and marketing services firms.

To get started it’s important to first gain company-wide acknowledgement of some “truths” with respect to digital marketing:

  • Brand website visitor quantity and frequency are critical measures, for the sake of volume and profit. Website visitors spend more than non-visitors, and are drawn to saving money via coupons—but will spend more profitably when engaged with valuable content.
  • Content quality and visitor engagement are essential to extracting that value—maximizing the segment of visitors who buy based on value versus price.
  • The quantity of opt-in email and mobile subscribers, and maintaining their agreeable status is a key measure of potential consumer engagement. Absent these permission-based relationships, content freshness decays when you can’t reach out and connect with consumers in a timely fashion.
  • Consumer engagement with email, Web, social media, and mobile channels is indicative of brand affinity and customer value. Research shows that consumers who engage through multiple channels are more profitable than ones who don’t.

Gaining agreement on these points can be challenging in a bottom-line business focused on sales and retail execution. It’s for this reason better analytics and ways of communicating the contribution of marketing content investments to consumer engagement are essential.

Gib Bassett is global program director, consumer goods, for Teradata

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