5 Ways to Fix Poor CPG Content Marketing
Poor consumer packaged goods (CPG) content marketing can result in anything from lower-than-projected sales to the complete failure of a new product launch. And the best research and development for new products won’t do any good if the new product doesn’t sell. If it’s any consolation, you’re not alone in this. Nielsen.com estimated about 85% of all fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) launches fail.
Let’s take a look at some fixes to rescue poor CPG content marketing and get your sales back on track.
1 Online Visibility
Think your product doesn’t have much to say online? Think again. Let’s take the example of sour cream. While it seems like a rather basic product that probably only competes with a few other brands and is a decision made at the point of sale, a little creativity to make it stand out online so it’s in the front of people’s minds when they go shopping, either online or in-person can have a massive impact.
Having a well put together website is not being strong in digital, it’s table stakes. You have to go beyond that in order to influence purchase decisions. Here are a few example for our hypothetical sour cream company:
- Create some appealing recipes with fantastic images that feature ingredients people search online for, and post them on the sour cream’s website and across social media.
- Create a branded TikTok challenge that uses a dollop of sour cream
- Partner with companies like Thrillist or Tasty to get your recipes with brand recommendations creatively and natively advertised on social media
- Dominate the digital shelf! Everyone in CPG knows that product placement matters in-store. End-caps and eye-level product placement outperforms ankle level placement. Search engine results are no different. You want to create as many content types as possible so that you dominate the search engine results page with not just a single high ranking listing, but multiple top ranking listings on page 1 from various sources to blanket the digital shelf.
McKinsey & Company notes that “many CPG companies are exploring ways to reach consumers directly through digital channels… [by] looking to engage consumers in highly personalized, consistent interactions.” Even if your product isn’t a good candidate for D2C eCommerce marketing (for example, things that may melt or need refrigeration), digital channels are invaluable for creating interest and brand recognition that can lead to in-store purchases. The Honest Company is one brand that crosses both channels. Site visitors can buy directly or search for stores nearby that sell the same products.
As Liz Alton writes for Skyword, just getting ‘vanity followers’ on your social media pages won’t lead to sales. CPG content marketing requires insight into what consumers are looking for on a platform that converts to buying those items. Some brands use contests or exclusive memberships to attract these types of followers. Frito-Lay’s Snack Society is one example of a brand trying to connect consumers and build loyalty where members can try new products, “be a part of Frito-Lay hosted events and meet other snackers from across the country.”
Alton recommends four actions for expanding your digital marketing: invest in understanding your market, evaluate your streams to identify where you’re ready to serve customers and where you’re not ready, seek ways to innovate marketing and delivery, and then invest in content. “Know that your customers are seeking information-and be the place they go to find it.” Alla Byrne for Shareablee echoes these recommendations, along with specific advice for CPG brands to use Instagram to share fresh content (not repurposed Facebook content), maximize influencer deals (consider ethnic influencers), and develop meaningful content that meets consumer’s needs.
Another platform CPG brands can’t ignore is Amazon. An article by Natalie Taylor talks about the importance of having an Amazon strategy. For companies who have long focused on product placement in-store (and those valuable end-cap displays), a sponsored product listing on Amazon is the digital equivalent. In 2018, food and beverage was the fastest-growing category on Amazon. The COVID-19 pandemic has further increased sales of all CPG products, both on Amazon and on other platforms.
Use data about what consumers search for before they click on your pages, or buy your products online to create sponsored product ads on Amazon that will push your branded items to the top of Amazon searches.This infographic from Evōk Advertising gives some good strategies for capturing SEO trends for CPG marketing:
Prioritizing voice search optimization (VSO) is also becoming increasingly important as people use hands-free options and smart home devices to do more of their searches and shopping. You can improve your VSO results by using long tail words, and incorporating commonly asked questions and answers on your website.
2 Know Your Customer
In a blog for GlobalWebIndex, Sofie Lundberg shares 8 Things Brands Should Know About Their Audience. She writes that “It takes creativity for CPG brands to form a message that engages, but deeper consumer understanding to strike a chord that truly resonates.” CPG brands need to know their customers.
Did you know that in 2019, 53% of US and UK consumers had reduced disposable plastic use in the last 12 months? And if your customers value sustainability, they may be willing to pay more if your brand offers sustainable packaging or packaging with less waste.
In addition to sustainable packaging, companies that include information about local sources or in-country manufacturing can also capture the attention of consumers who are becoming more concerned with supporting their local, state, and country’s economies.
We’ve already discussed the importance of online visibility, but Lundberg notes that micro-audiences and targeting are also important online. Women are still more likely to do the family grocery shopping and continue to make more decisions about the CPG brands the household uses.
Even though online discovery is growing, 37% of consumers still discover brands through TV advertising—although an almost equal number do so via search engines. “CPG marketers should expand their reach and explore both of these routes for maximum impact.”
What do your customers value? Quality? Price? Convenience? Your customer personas contain valuable information about your customers. Use this in your marketing, and constantly highlight these values in your advertising.
3 User-Generated Content (UGC)
According to Kassandra Coulombe writing for Boston Digital, UGC influences 84% of millennial’s purchases and is one of the most valuable forms of content for brands. Whether it’s testimonials or tweets, unpaid content from real people raving about a product needs to be part of your content marketing strategy.
Encourage customers to review your products, share photos of themselves with your products, and give examples of original ways they’re using them. Going back to the sour cream example earlier, the brand could use their social media platforms to highlight unique recipes from across the country—turns out you can even use sour cream to make a flaky pie crust or delicious cookies!
As Lundberg notes, you can turn customers into advocates by providing exclusive content, endorsing and encouraging user-generated content, offering rewards and incentives, and sharing relevant, tailored content on social media.
Consumers see social media as a way to personally connect with your brand. Use this as a venue to continue the connection. Thank people for their reviews and ideas, comment on posts where your brand is tagged, and, as stated above, use incentives to encourage them to post more UGC and rewards after UGC goes live.
4 Get Personal
Coca-Cola is regularly used as an example of great CPG marketing, and for good reason. Their ‘Share a Coke’ campaign has been going strong for years because people like finding a Coke with their name on it, or someone they want to tag in a post. Of course, most use the hashtag #ShareACoke, and Coke takes advantage of this to push their brand while creating emotional connections with their customers.
A new Coke campaign that continues along the lines of personal connections is their Around the Table, Around the World campaign. The company calls it “a cross-cultural celebration of togetherness over food shot on location during quarantine by pre-screened film crews and directed remotely.” It features 13 real households from around the world preparing and sharing meals together—with Coca-Cola, of course.
Coke has mastered the art of making their brand feel like it’s something that connects on a personal, almost intimate level. We always see images of people across ethnicities and ages enjoying Coke and the brand effectively and continuously inspires UGC.
Good social media connection creates brand-consumer relationships. Everyone in a CPG brand’s organization from the CEO down can use this to their advantage. Let followers hear from real people in your company in their voice, and interact directly (with some clear marketing guidelines and content checks and balances to ensure messages are appropriate and on-brand). This personalization can do wonders to grow brand-consumer relationships that lead to loyalty, referrals, and even more UGC.
5 Driving In-Store Sales with Digital
Marketing can often be leveraged to grow online and in-store sales in the same campaigns. A well timed text message an hour before dinner time can have a significant influence on meal planning decisions.
Linda Landers of Girlpower Marketing talks about driving sales with digitally facilitated connection in her article for Business 2 Community. While social media is generally the best place for this, the connection starts with knowing your customer and practicing social listening. “Buyers are more aware than ever of brands’ position and messaging surrounding cultural and global events, as well as their treatment of employees.” When you’re listening to what consumers are saying—both about your brand and about products in a more general sense—you can be proactive by addressing problems early, and honing your marketing in on what matters to your consumers right now.
CPG customers are relying on online shopping more than ever, so now is a great time to make sure they know where they can buy your products—either D2C or the stores near them that carry your brand. But keep in mind that other customers are using a trip to the store as a welcome change to the increased time they’re spending in their homes and in front of screens. Messaging that lets them know they can rely on your supply chain to meet their needs no matter how and where they shop builds confidence and trust in your brand.