Thanks to personalization tech giants like Amazon, Netflix and Facebook, consumers are used to being served up content and suggestions that align seamlessly with browsing histories, “likes” and other content or products they recently engaged with online. For this reason, people today expect closer, more personalized relationships with brands—and that includes CPG firms.
Pioneering brands are using digital technologies to create highly personalized experiences that make their products seem hyper relevant to individual consumers, whether they’re having individualized conversations on social media or sharing targeted content to engage with consumers.
But for an industry that was built on brand marketing, catchy slogans and traditional advertising campaigns, CPG marketers are feeling the pressure to pivot their marketing strategies to create more individually relevant branded experiences for consumers. This essentially creates a new era of brand marketing for CPG brands—one that requires marketers to focus on customer connections and using content to help consumers create meaningful engagements with brands.
We spoke with OneSpot CEO Steve Sachs to get the skinny on how CPG brands can use personalization to build more intimate relationships with consumers.
Q: What are the most important considerations for CPG brands and relationship building?
A: CPG brands face unique challenges in regards to relationship building. To overcome these challenges, most importantly, CPG brands have to start by asking “why.” Why do brands pursue relationships with consumers, and why would a consumer engage in building a relationship with a brand? You have to answer those questions for your own company, but bear this in mind; Building a relationship with your audience is admirable on its own, but most consumers expect value from a brand long before they ever feel connected to it.
Take food and grocery, for example. This is an incredibly difficult market for many companies because there have never been more competing brands in the market or a more educated, informed and empowered customer base than today. Leading brands in this area intuitively understand their customers, their needs and how to meet them at every touch point—so much so that consumers feel a sense of serendipity when they interact with the brand. They don’t feel like they’re being sold to, but they feel like they’re finding the product that’s perfect for them. Content marketing is an incredible delivery mechanism for this type of interaction, and there are some great examples of this process in action in the food and grocery space today.
Q: What’s the biggest challenge for CPG firms today in terms of personalization?
A: From what clients tell us, it’s understanding and taking action on the data at hand. The average CPG brand has mountains of point of sale data, CRM data, brand affinity data and engagement data from its website, social and digital paid media. Marketers don’t have enough time or resources to make sense of it all to take action. This compounding data problem explains why artificial intelligence (AI) is rising in prescience for marketers across categories. We all need help to get it done, and AI-based personalization technologies that utilize machine learning and natural language processing to automate the analysis and even take action on our behalves is a game changer.
Q: Which CPG brands are doing personalization particularly well right now and why?
A: Nestlé’s Very Best Baking has a tremendous content hub that is not only teeming with delicious recipes, but its purpose is also very strategic. Nestlé Toll House built the foundation for Very Best Baking as a way to make itself more relevant to younger consumers like millennials, who appreciate content and experiences that inform them on new ways to use classic products. Especially pertinent to younger consumers, Nestlé invested in building personalization capabilities into the website and email campaigns to encourage content consumption that would ultimately lead to greater brand affinity and purchase intent.
Q: What are some of the most common challenges or roadblocks teams experience as they try to build out their personalization strategies? What solutions can they implement to resolve them?
A: The most important thing to keep in mind is managing your stakeholders’ involvement and expectations. Personalization is a big undertaking, but a supportive team that sponsors your initiative to improve the digital consumer experience is a force to be reckoned with. It may be hard in the beginning to get their buy in, so make sure you leverage a partner to answer their questions and help implement the solution so that your stakeholders rest easy.
Here’s a pro tip: One of the most under-appreciated stakeholder groups is the IT department. If you can find a way to involve them early and respect their positions as the guardians of your brand’s online experience, then they’ll be happy to assist in bringing your vision of a personalized content experience to life. We’ve seen it time and time again.
The most successful CPG firms use personalization to attract consumers’ attention and foster meaningful relationships with their brand.
Download The Game Changer’s Guide to Individualizing Content Experiences for best practices for delivering 1:1 personalized content experiences across every channel.
Marissa leads marketing at OneSpot.