Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Learn To Target...Like CPG Does

As a graduate student in the Nortwestern Medill IMC program, I have been studying best target applications by social marketers. In the past decade, the lack of face-to-face interaction in the store had been a challenge for the consumer packaged goods (CPG) folks. But things started to change with the expansion of technology and tools. In the face of intensifying competition, digital channels will be critical in keeping your brands relevant to the consumer. To be specific, the CPG industry has been hit hard by the economy in recent years, and as a result, private labels are gaining more popularity. There is no better time than this for brands to start embracing social media as a form of trusted, earned media.

It is important to understand your competitors’ strategies (obviously leaning towards social and interactive now) in order to stay ahead of the pack. A research conducted by dunnhumby reveals that shoppers who already had a history of brand purchase are more effective in social media marketing. CPG firms would need to do more to take advantage of retail data by looking for shoppers with high frequency of purchase in their brands and locate them on social media platforms. Building authentic voices will help influence other consumers and eventually drive sales, creating a strong foundation for a profitable growth of the company.

The social marketing program will be heavily reliant on shopper marketing data. In addition to the frequency of purchase (most likely an indication of loyalty), CPG firms will need to target demographics profile while also  considering their customers’ social influence scores (e.g. Klout) in order to find the right advocates for the brand. My recommendations include:

1) Observe what people think about your product – finding what customers have been sharing online e.g. uploading product picture on Facebook wall, or writing reviews on the latest items they purchased on Amazon. This way, CPG marketers can monitor real-time user experiences and obtain feedbacks promptly. There is also a possibility of improving product design by finding what they might have missed out during product testing via observing discussions around the brand.

2) Improve in-store experience – letting some of the more socially-engaged customers do their job, for example, customers sharing experiences via their smartphones while also being able to research similar offerings online, or scanning the QR codes to deepen their purchase experience right in the aisle. 

3) Share what your customers care – posting the latest trends on social media. We can do extra research and analysis to find out what the consumers really want to stay ahead of the competition by, for example, observing the meals people prepared and shared on Pinterest to learn what they are looking for in the grocery stores in terms of convenience and creativity.

4) Activate the dialogue – creating a space where customers who have a history of purchases can tell their personal stories and share their expertise. We already know that word-of-mouth and personal recommendations are one of the biggest drivers to purchase in the CPG category.

Yet, the biggest mistake is to let the advocates run the program themselves. We need to provide guidelines and activities to keep these consumers engaged and motivated, hence the need to strike the right balance between over-monitoring and letting the social marketing program run itself.

Arisa Kulpiyavaja is a graduate student in the Northwestern Medill IMC program. She is a marketer with a long passion in the consumer packaged goods industry, specializing in branding and marketing analytics. You can reach Arisa on http://www.linkedin.com/in/arisakulpiyavaja or follow her @arisaimc.


  1. I'm working in a fashion company, this article is really useful! Thanks!