So how to generate the needed velocity? Enhanced digital engagement. Online grocery retail was already trending upward prior to the outbreak but, with the institution of stay-at-home orders, grocery e-commerce has exploded. The ranks of regular grocery e-commerce shoppers have swelled and all indications are that online grocery shopping has become a permanent part of the path to purchase for tens of millions of American consumers.
But, simply being included in a retailer’s online gallery will not be sufficient to move product at the desired volume. Brands will need to take advantage of retailer media networks to effectively promote, prominently position, and drive awareness and purchase of their new products.
Developing mutually beneficial data-sharing solutions with retailers will be critical to building consumer awareness by enabling cost-efficient co-branded events targeting shoppers with a proven affinity for the promoted product type.
3. Driving product trial is now a decidedly digital undertaking
The third key to new product success is, of course, generating consumer trial. If brands can’t turn awareness into purchase — and then repeat purchase — someone’s great idea for growing share of a category will just die on the vine. To drive needed initial purchase, brands will need to expand and enhance their digital efforts beyond those already discussed by employing digital promotions and influencer marketing.
Promotions have always been extremely effective in driving trial and that has not changed. With more and more consumers facing economic hardship, promotion sensitivity (and demand) is increasing, along with the power of coupons to activate shoppers around new products.
What is changing in the coupon space is the growing preference among shoppers for digital promotions. These “touchless” promotions — that are easily acquired by shoppers and easily managed by marketers — are only going to increase in popularity and only make sense as part of a new product launch.
At the same time, overlaying digital promotions with consumer-engaging and awareness-building influencer campaigns will increase the sales-driving impact of both. Digitally delivering authentic, relevant content around a not-yet-familiar product is an excellent way to increase use potential and providing a savings opportunity along with that content is an excellent way to increase purchase potential.
The presence of COVID-19 has certainly complicated the new product launch process but it hasn’t made it impossible. Brands that lean into the digital transformation that’s reshaping grocery retail and retool their approach to match will have every chance of success.
Jim Hertel, Senior Vice President Analytics Client Development at Inmar Intelligence.