CPGmatters: ConAgra Aims to Integrate Digital into Shopper Marketing
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?