CPGmatters: ConAgra Aims to Integrate Digital into Shopper Marketing

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Nov 21, 2011
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Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from the monthly e-zine, CPGmatters.

For ConAgra Foods, the issue is not how to create a digital strategy, but rather how to integrate it into its overall shopper marketing approach.

“We take an almost unbiased look to make sure it delivers on the creative or communication platform and make it feel like one consumer campaign,” said Jon Shen, director of interactive marketing at ConAgra, adding that ConAgra has a team dedicated to making sure the shopper marketing plan feels cohesive. He made these comments in a presentation recently in Chicago at the Shopper Marketing Expo produced and hosted by the Path to Purchase Institute.

Mr. Shen added, “We don’t think of it as the traditional path to purchase any more. Technology has changed how people move through the traditional purchase cycle, and how they advocate or denigrate a product.”

For example, he noted that someone can be on Facebook with a complaint about what a manufacturer is doing and then that message gets copied and pasted to 150 “close friends.”

The influence of reviews and people’s opinions is really critical, added another speaker, Tom Brown, executive vice president, RPM Connect.

The dialogue for marketing efforts needs to include a wide variety of functions at the manufacturer level, the manufacturer’s agency and the retailer. These conversations should be held early in the process so that new learnings can be applied to the program before it launches.

“Early on we get reaction from senior leadership. Are we missing anything? Is there a way to make it bigger?” Mr. Brown said.

Different digital and traditional media are considered that will increase awareness of the brand and drive purchase intent.

“We look for ways to get on the shopping list,” Brown said. “Retailers are doing a good job with digital lists. They learn what consumers are searching for on their site and then offer coupons and recipes.”

Social media enables manufacturers and retailers to test and learn so they don’t make the same mistake twice, according to the speakers.

“We work across digital, and bring the marketing and merchandising agenda together for execution,” said Rachael Norton, vice president – shopper marketing at ConAgra. “Our dialogue with retailers has changed. We can talk about what marketing is best for them.”

She said ROI used to be the sole focus, but now the objective is driving brand equity and creating a long-term relationship with the customer. “It may be a solution, not so much a brand focus.”

Understanding the long-term impact of the market in total remains a challenge, Ms. Norton summed up “We need to have a dialogue — conversations, not just e-mails.”

Discussion Questions: In what ways is social and other digital media changing the traditional shopper marketing roles of vendors and retailers? How should conversations between the two change?

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10 Comments on "CPGmatters: ConAgra Aims to Integrate Digital into Shopper Marketing"


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Adrian Weidmann
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

It is essential to create a proactive cross-channel digital media strategy based on an understanding of the media consumption and behavior of your brand’s target audience(s). It is from this foundation that you design a communication response strategy matrix based the correct digital channel to be used for a particular customer segment and where they are in the brand interaction process- awareness, acquisition, retention, post sale celebration and loyalty. It will further fragment and dilute your brand if you provide independent digital solutions simply reacting to perceived shopper trends. Take the time to identify and truly understand your targeted audience media behavior and how they want to be valued, surprised and delighted.

Joan Treistman
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

I believe the goal for a company’s social and other digital media strategy is to get their brands to be part of the consideration set. It’s not about instant gratification of purchase, but rather a long-term commitment to enhancing and maintaining positive brand equities that motivate purchase. In that context brand messages take on a new focus where they build on each other.

Ralph Jacobson
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

Social media is the next “internet.” The conversations will be going on whether we are a part of them or not. To not have a well-orchestrated, cross-industry business partner digital strategy is to leave huge revenue opportunities on the table. As we see more and more CPG and retailers working together on targeted social channel promotions, we see that new and existing shoppers are making decisions based upon the messaging that the partners are delivering via the web.

Ben Sprecher
Guest
Ben Sprecher
9 years 5 months ago
Ms. Norton’s comment strikes me as especially critical: the most successful brands are the ones that can engage retailers in a true dialogue about goals and priorities, and that can build marketing and merchandising programs around shared goals. All too often, brands and retailers come to the table trying to steamroll through a particular agenda and tone-deaf to the key business priorities of the other party. We have found that the most successful shopper marketing programs are those that align the interests of the brands and chains, and that treat shoppers differently based on each shopper’s relationship with both the brand’s products and with the category, department, and retailer as a whole. So instead of fighting over how to get more shelf space, or on how to get a brand to knock off another nickel a case, we encourage a dialogue about particular shoppers. How should we communicate with (and promote to) a shopper who is a high-frequency shopper but who isn’t buying the category? How should we reward a brand’s best customers? How do… Read more »
Carlos Arambula
Guest
9 years 5 months ago
Digital media has already changed the marketing roles of vendor and retailer in certain categories. Just look at the automobile category and the impact it has had. Look at the transferable properties of that dynamic to learn how it will change the CPG category. The marketers desire to extend the brand and shopping experience to a variable permeating the end-consumers life is already happening even if the marketer or retailer are not taking advantage of it. Ultimately, it will be a better selling function; it will lead to consumers happier with their decisions and give the manufacturer the ability to provide customer service and mitigate any problems before they become a significant negative experience for the consumer. I find it amusing that a concern is a facebook posting informing 150 friends of a bad experience (first off the math is wrong, if 150 friends will learn of the problem initially, you need to account for exponential growth of exposure by the hour). Vendors and retailers need to plan their digital strategies thinking of an opportunity… Read more »
Mark Price
Guest
Mark Price
9 years 5 months ago
Grocery manufacturers have traditionally struggled with a cost-effective method of connecting with customers, given that grocery retailers have the direct customer relationship at the store. Direct mail is too expensive to pay out, and it is difficult to give consumers a reason to subscribe to newsletters for packaged goods products. Mass media and local events are the usual ways that CPG manufacturers use to reach customers and reinforce brand preference. Social media provides the opportunity for manufacturers to begin to build relationships with consumers, especially advocates for their products. The challenge is scale; the number of consumers that can be reached via social media are low, even if each comment is viewed by 150 people or more. Social media provides value to manufacturers in consumer feedback on product issues and customer service more than directly affecting volume. That customer service component of social media, if those comments are related to the customer experience at a grocery retailer, provide the manufacturer with a small way to begin to equalize a relationship that has for long been… Read more »
Matthew Keylock
Guest
Matthew Keylock
9 years 5 months ago

I still struggle with the stubbornly prevailing split between consumer marketing and shopper marketing … they are all people and in the case of many brands they are the same people! You need to understand them through a single view and similarly you should market to them consistently across the different channels.

Separation of insight and communication functions will only lead to fragmentation of the consumer/shopper experience and inefficient spend in the company.

Digital is creating more possibilities for fragmentation, but also opportunities. For the CPGs that can crack digital and remove this fragmentation there is an advantage to be had — especially if this can be amplified via collaboration with retailers.

Ronnie Perchik
Guest
Ronnie Perchik
9 years 5 months ago

There are many ways in which social media, and other digital-enabled marketing strategies influence shopper marketing. The main goal needs to be adding value to the overall customer experience. Tactics include everything from a Q/A across social media, to introducing in-store digital technology like tablets for associates, to smartphone apps that localize the customer’s engagement with the brand and/or retailer.

This is just a snapshot of how shopper marketing is revolutionized, and many retailers/brands are already on board.

In ConAgra’s case, they’re making the right move by adjusting ROI goals to focus on establishing a relationship with the consumer, learning about them, and adjusting appropriately.

One way for brands/retailers to launch digital media campaigns is to hire partner agencies that specialize in this niche, ever-changing space.

Mark Heckman
Guest
9 years 5 months ago
Social marketing is much less “linear” than the traditional marketing channels we grew up learning and leveraging. Social media allows the message to flow in multiple directions, instantaneously from the brand or retailer to the consumer to their “friends” and contacts, to other websites and even on to multiple mobile applications. That’s the good news; REACH has been expanded exponentially. But the challenge, as I see it, is twofold. 1. How does this new ‘message ubiquity’ change the conversation? 2. How is the impact of all this exposure measured? One suggestion is to devise brand and retailer messages to be inherently interactive. Invite feedback and encourage and reward spreading the message throughout their shopper’s community. Be prepared to track and respond to this interaction. Treat these communications, not as ‘one off’ promotions, but rather as part of an interactive campaign. This approach also can help with the metrics in that a “call to action” or “call to response” can be measured through technology and ultimately through digital offer response. As a veteran of many years… Read more »
Mike Anthony
Guest
Mike Anthony
9 years 5 months ago

Digital, social, and more importantly — mobile is forcing a change that should have happened anyway. Category management’s biggest failing is that it did not create integration; arguably it made integration harder across consumer and trade teams. For marketing to be effective it needs to be integrated. Mobile makes this mandatory rather than merely desirable. Shoppers cannot be limited to the shop floor. Marketers need to recognize the differences between shoppers and consumers and integrate them into a cohesive marketing mix.

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