It seems to me that in the tsunami of digital marketing going on, FMCG is being left behind.
For brands largely dependent on consumer sales via supermarkets, you would think that they would be at the forefront of finding ways to engage with consumers as a means to loosen the choke hold the retailers have on every day purchases through their scale of operations.
When in store, consumers are driven by the environment to “commoditise” their shopping, constantly bombarded by price activity that has over time eroded the impact that a brand can have, giving retailers greater control of the shoppers purse. Price has become such a central driver in FMCG that I suspect many have forgotten how to really build a brand and market value to consumers, rather than just price and availability.
On the other hand, marketers kid themselves with the notion flogged by the snake oil bunch that people want a “relationship” with your brand, and spending mega bucks on building such a relationship will delver returns. Truth is that most supermarket shoppers, confined by a finite budget give their brand “relationships” little thought when in store. They tend to have a pool of acceptable products in a category, and buy from that pool based on an almost instantaneous response to their previous experiences. Marketers really only get the chance in to get a considered response when a product is being considered for the first time, or there is some other powerful outside stimulus. It is here that an ability to deliver highly targeted messages to consumers via digital means can have a real impact.
So how do we cut through the haze?.
The old rules of marketing still apply, just digitally.
Years ago I worked for a dairy company, we had a great long life custard product, and the simple co-location of a floor stack of custard next to the bananas when they were in season and a value price, with a bit of POS material, saw the sales of both soar. I have done this time and time again, with different product combinations, and the results have been consistent, problem is finding you way through the planograms and rules imposed by central head offices bent on selling floor space to suppliers and maintaining a discipline at store level, often at the expense of innovating to sell products to consumers.
How could digital work to enable this proven technique?
Apples iBeacon technology is one of several systems that use location sensitive smart phones to deliver brand messages. Unilever appears to be successfully trialling it with a Magnum promotion in the UK in collaboration with Tesco, who have a bit of history of innovation in the digital space. Retailers also have the building blocks of truly innovative co-location and collaborative activity housed in their loyalty card data. Combine that with geo-location and opportunities really open up.
Young consumers, heavy users of digital are not their mothers, they are distinctly different, and see brands and digital through different eyes. Relying on them to accept a commoditised selection on supermarket shelves is probably going to end in pain, as they select the products and brands they want to interact with digitally, and have a whole range of considerations their mothers would never consider.
I know this digital stuff is going to work when marketers manage to crack the code, and have the grunt to either collaborate constructively with retailers, or go around them. I have written about the cottage cheese club previously, an analogue version of what is possible, now simple and highly extendable with digital tools.
For heavens sake, get on with it!