The Best Customer Engagement Strategies in Retail for CPG Brands
Many CPG brands, new and established, struggle with standing out on a retailer’s shelves. The CPG industry is going through a rapid growth phase and is estimated to be worth around $14 trillion by 2025, up from $8 trillion in 2015. That equates to more brands clamoring for limited consumer attention. And, when it comes to brick and mortar retail, they’re doing it all in the same aisle. However, your brand can gain the edge on your competitors by using mobile to help steer customers to your products both online and offline.
In the digital age, smartphones are your best connection to your customers. A successful customer engagement strategy in the retail space involves leveraging mobile opportunities not only for online sales, but for customers who are browsing the retail aisles as well. You can use mobile marketing to connect, build powerful moments, and help your brand stand out in a sea of competitors.
Now is the time to boost your CPG brand’s customer engagement using technology that lets you travel with consumers, whether you’re sending a personalized message, responding to customers via social media, or using micro-moments to create brand recognition. The agility of smartphones to move with consumers can help you create a connection with your target market of existing and new customers—and help to guard your market share as the CPG industry continues to expand.
Perfecting Personalized Customer Communications as an Engagement Strategy
The fact that personalization is a major sales driver for consumers is no secret. In fact, 70% of companies consider personalization their top priority in 2017—and it’s likely that number will only increase in 2018. But what is personalization, exactly?
There’s a fine line between using a customer’s data to give him or her a positive and unique experience, and using that data in a way that a customer will find invasive. On top of that, in-store personalization means that you have to effectively use that data quickly, to both recognize the customer’s needs and then offer them an option to meet those needs in the short moments before they make a purchase decision.
One brilliant campaign from Snickers encompassed all the best parts of personalized advertising. The company monitored Twitter posts based on emojis. The higher the uptick in negative emotion emojis across the platform, the lower the brand dropped the price of a Snickers bar at select 7-11 locations. Consumers following the brand could then lock in a low price via their smartphones for the next time they bought a Snickers at a participating store.
This was a clever campaign that also tied into its television commercial slogan, “You’re not you when you’re hungry.” This was another successful aspect of Snickers’ strategy: they aligned their mobile campaign to their television and print campaigns as well. Then, they took this strategy a step further by using it to personalize messages to consumers who posted a negative emoji and offer them a discounted price on a Snickers bar in order to improve their mood. The campaign used freely available data to reach out to consumers, but made sure to walk the right side of the line when it comes to personalization without privacy invasion.
The Key Takeaways:
Use data consumers freely give away:
The key to Snickers’ successful campaign was that they used publicly available data that consumers chose to share. They simply looked at the emojis consumers used on social media to measure their mood. The use of that data wasn’t invasive. Instead, consumers felt as though Snickers was listening to them. Permissive use is crucial when leveraging consumers’ data to make a personalized recommendation. Social media, purchase history, and data that consumers opt to share with apps can be a great way to permissively gather information.
Don’t make assumptions:
There’s a difference between using a customer’s prior purchase history to make an assumption versus using it to guide your suggestions. For example, if a customer previously purchased a gluten-free frozen meal, it may be safe to recommend another gluten-free product. However, if a customer bought a home pregnancy test, you should not assume they would be interested in a coupon for diapers. One is a suggestion based on a prior purchase. The other is an assumption that companies should steer clear of. Personalize the message by using it to guide messages, but don’t jump to conclusions.
Make Magic With Micro-Moments
Micro-moments are those short instances when a person turns to their phone for information. 82% of smartphone users say they consult their phones on purchases they’re about to make in a store. One way to make an impact in those micro-moments is to use the personalization recommendation mentioned above and tie it into that mobile interaction.
This is what Pantene did when it teamed up with a popular weather app to provide hair styling advice to consumers. When the weather app indicated that the humidity had reached a certain level, Pantene would recommend products designed to keep hair under control in those conditions. They would explain why humidity caused hair to fall flat and recommend their own products to combat the problem. This allowed the company to leverage their very specific product focus and knowledge to gain the attention of the right target audience in immediate need of their offerings.
There’s a reason why 48% of smartphone users are more likely to buy from companies whose mobile sites provide instructional video content: those companies have proven themselves to be experts in their industry. Consumers trust them, so they purchase from them more confidently and regularly. Through their personalized micro-moment campaign, Pantene was able to gain a 10% increase in sales and secure a top position in the highly competitive beauty market.
The Key Takeaways:
Recognize the consumer’s problem:
When a consumer buys a product from a CPG brand, they’re generally doing so to fill a specific need or solve a problem. Pantene recognized the impact that humidity had on hair and used weather apps to deliver messages about how to combat the problem.
Use your knowledge:
Every CPG brand has an area where they consider themselves to be an industry expert. Using that knowledge to answer consumers’ questions can be a successful way to create a micro-moment that leads to consumer trust and loyalty.
Make use of beacons:
Pantene used sensor beacons located in Walgreens stores to notify them when consumers entered and then offer them information on a Pantene hair product that would help them combat humidity. As they were able to reach out as soon as the customers walked through the doors, they were able to direct those customers straight to their aisle in the store with little distraction.
Offer Social Customer Service to Help Engage Retail Consumers
Customer service is no longer tied to customer hotlines or even to email. Now, consumers ask questions and file complaints in full view of the public via social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Due to this fact, about 81% of companies integrate social customer service in some way. This allows companies to be transparent in their dealings with customers, which also leads to engaging with them in-store. In a study, it was found that 10% of all tweets directed at a CPG company occurred while the customer was in-store.
Duncan Hines is one of the strongest performing CPG brands using a social media strategy today. The company strategically focused on gaining user-generated content, such as photos of creations made with Duncan Hines products. They even went so far as to offer suggestions to consumers via social media while they were in the store looking for baking inspiration.
Since the company has made its commitment to engaging customers via social media, Duncan Hines now generates more mentions than any other CPG brand on Facebook. This is in large part due to the fact that they like and comment on posts that mention their brand, they share user-generated comments on their page, and they respond to social media questions and concerns almost immediately. This is a full-time job that requires constant interaction, but it is a strategy that has paid off for them in spades.
The Key Takeaways:
Focus on a specific audience:
Duncan Hines used social media to find and market to people who specifically enjoyed baking. They were able to creatively engage with them and offer suggestions as they choose products in-store.
When a consumer sends a message to Duncan Hines on social media, the response is almost instantaneous. Duncan Hines has proven to be very proactive when someone is seeking help regarding one of their products, creating consumer trust.
Gain user-generated content:
An important component of interacting with consumers is allowing them to share their content regarding your brand on your brand’s public spaces. Users of Duncan Hines products are encouraged to share their experience with the brand on the company’s page and, most importantly, the company always responds to that interaction.
Leverage Third-Party Apps for Successful Customer Engagement Strategies in Retail
Many companies run into trouble generating a positive ROI with mobile marketing as they believe that they must create their own proprietary app to connect with consumers in stores. This isn’t the case, however, as there are many third-party apps that brands can partner with which will give them exposure that’s often more profitable than the exposure they’d get via their own in-house app. These apps are specifically useful when they’re designed to be used in-store, like in the case of shopping apps. As consumers have these apps out and running when they’re in the store searching for items to check off their list, brands are able to advertise in the moment of a purchase decision.
Shopping apps allow you to combine all three of the prior customer engagement strategies in retail. You can use a shopping app to share information about your brand, help consumers solve a problem—and you can even use them as a social platform. Many shopping apps are specifically designed to work with in-store beacons as well, which makes it easier to direct consumers to your products’ shelves. Finally, consumers get the incentive of gaining customer rewards to keep them engaged, rather than discounts, which keeps you from having to cut your prices and put a dent in your bottom line.
All CPG brands are challenged by gaining attention in the retail environment, but mobile marketing makes this strategy easier and more profitable by allowing you to travel with your consumers. Use data to craft personalized messages and beacons to help them locate your product in stores. Offer them the opportunity to share their experience with your brand and manage this all through the use of intuitive shopping apps that put your products in front of eager and interested target audiences. By studying the stories of Duncan Hines, Pantene, and Snickers, we’re able to see that consumers respond to personalized and in-the-moment social marketing. A shopping app allows you to harness that power—and use it to grow your own brand’s presence in a crowded marketplace.