While the evolution of the CPG landscape has been underway for years now, its rate of change has dramatically quickened as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
Amidst store closures and stay-at-home advisories, consumers have rapidly adapted to new, tech-forward ways of shopping, which has created immense demand for the CPG industry.
For example, at the peak of stay-at-home orders in mid-March, online CPG product sales saw a 91% increase versus the same period in 2019, according to data from Nielsen.
While this development presents a number of challenges to CPG brands continuing to execute traditional, slow-moving marketing tactics, it also presents an array of opportunities for those who are proactive in adapting their strategies to meet the industry’s changes.
However, with an ever-complex consumer purchasing path, it can be difficult for a brand to know where exactly to adjust their efforts.
To avoid diving blindly into new endeavors and wasting resources by consequence, CPG brands need sales and media data to direct and inform their alterations.
Especially against financial strains caused by COVID-19, brands can’t afford to funnel marketing funds into campaigns they aren’t sure they’re getting a return on.
Here are the best practices CPG marketers can use to succeed in this age of disruption, with access to the right data as the cornerstone of each of them.
From proliferating ecommerce opportunities to shifting consumer demographics, the CPG landscape is changing, and brands who want to remain competitive within it need to update their methods to ensure they make an impact on evolving audiences.
But before brands pool their marketing resources behind new campaigns or tactics, it’s critical to first test them to ensure that, once they are rolled out on a large scale, they will yield the intended results.
The testing phase should in fact assess multiple methods, from various audience segments to different media and messaging, so that organizations can compare the effectiveness of them to identify which option best resonates with audiences.
Equipped with this insight, marketers can optimize future media buys by grounding them in verified, relevant sales metrics, rather than just gut feelings of what will work in their favor—which, surprisingly, many marketers still use to dictate strategy.
Populations across the globe have dramatically upped their media consumption since stay-at-home advisories took effect—streaming increased by about 45% in the month of March alone—which means advertisers currently have the benefit of larger audiences coupled with new ways to reach them.
However, more eyes on the product does not directly translate to more sales if the chosen audience isn’t a fit for the brand’s offerings and can instead be a larger investment with no benefit in outcome.
CPG marketers need data around the media consumption of their target audiences (e.g., their preferred platforms and programming, peak viewing/listening times) to understand the channels in which they should be using to make an impact.
In order to make the most of limited budgets, marketing departments need to measure campaign performance to ensure their investments are directly increasing sales.
Measuring performance yields insights into which consumer segments and campaign elements drive the greatest response from audiences—and which ones are worth scrapping—which marketers can use to make educated decisions in planning future strategies.
Measuring performance also enables marketers to better predict ROI so that they can estimate the return of their efforts in advance of implementation.
Having measurement tools in place allow CPG brands to develop dynamic campaigns that maximize their available resources—without wasting them. With a clear market view, marketers can identify opportunities to adjust their strategies and calculate optimal levels of media spend to match.
Likewise, brands may naturally reach a point of diminishing returns—which can be attributed to anything from changing audience preferences to the product itself—but rather than overspending in an attempt to compensate, marketers can test new tactics to identify the new most effect strategy.
By staying on top of how their brand is performing, marketers can react quickly to any market changes—an ability that will propel them ahead of slow-moving competitors.
Access to granular data enables brands to operate outside of the traditional seasonal market cycle, which would otherwise waste months of spending if a tactic that didn’t yield results was followed through on.
PepsiCo is one example of a brand staying flexible with their spending; after witnessing decreased sales as less and less people currently frequent gas stations and restaurants, the brand made the move to trim nonessential marketing spending and divert their resources towards growth areas.
The purpose of any marketing department is to motivate buyers to take some form of action, with the ultimate goal being to drive revenue for the company.
To strengthen their department’s value and justify spending to leadership—especially during a time when companies may be trying to cut costs—marketers need to be able to show a direct connection between their initiatives and sales.
Measurement tools are particularly helpful now to pinpoint and explain radical changes in business performance—negative as well as positive—that may be occurring due to COVID-19.
To further support their work, marketers can inform leadership that slowing spending now can result in up to an 11% revenue decrease in 2021. Backed with hard data, marketers can win the support and resources they need to scale up or extend their efforts.
Of equal importance is marketing departments’ ability to prove the value of their support to retail partners. With the sheer number of CPGs exploding, marketers are in fierce competition to capture and keep the attention of retailers so that they can access their vast consumer bases.
With measurement techniques that calculate how much their marketing campaigns have boosted company sales, marketers can demonstrate to retailers that they are actively investing in promoting their own products and services so that they will in turn drive sales for those carrying them.
In order to tackle the challenges of modern CPG marketing, brands need to seek out measurement solutions that help them understand how their marketing efforts are performing at a granular level.
Equipped with these insights, CPG marketers can develop more flexible—and therefore effective—strategies that react to rapid market changes and prove their effectiveness to retailers or corporate stakeholders to continually propel the brand further.
Tina Wilson is EVP, Media Analytics & Marketing Effectiveness in the US for Nielsen. A 25-year Nielsen veteran, Tina leads teams that are the epicenter of media consulting, leveraging Nielsen’s world class data assets to inform clients’ decisioning on reaching audiences, acquiring and distributing content and understanding media outcomes.
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