3 Ways to Respond to Today’s CG Challenges with Personalization


Consumers across the country have varying comfort levels about shopping in store, and different regions have their own rules and restrictions that are constantly in flux. What’s more, the past several months of the COVID-19 pandemic have created an abandonment of brand loyalty as product availability remains unsteady.

This has forced consumer goods marketers to shift focus from national advertising campaigns and major retail partnerships to delivering direct, frontline customer communications and managing supplier details at a local level.

Personalization can serve as a critical tool to help consumer goods brands tackle current challenges head on, and to be prepared for new changes in customer behavior. Here’s how.

1. Answering the decline of on-premise sales with creativity

Now that consumers are buying more food, beverages and packaged goods online, they’re primed to continue doing so, and will be searching for even more relevant and convenient experiences. One of the best ways to engage these new buyers is with creative content. Personalizing content across digital channels offers myriad ways to connect with new and newly engaged customers, from how-to videos to contests.

For example, Oreo introduced the newStay Home, Stay Playful messaging in April that included a TikTok video challenge to raise funds for the Save The Children Charity. They tweeted a challenge to upload a video where someone has to move a cookie from their face to their mouth, which even enticed Jimmy Fallon to have a go.

These kinds of contests and other at-home projects certainly don’t have to hit late night TV in order to be valuable. Simply asking parents to upload images of their children’s artwork featuring dried pasta, for example, will help a pasta company to better understand their own demographics while also creating an uplifting social media campaign and adding new creative assets that can be used to personalize future communications.

2. Accounting for ‘backseat messaging’ with personalized direct marketing

CG brands have historically taken a backseat to retailers when it comes to establishing relationships with end consumers. Even during the present crisis, many CG brands have lagged behind when providing purpose-led communications or keeping customers updated on product stock fluctuations.

Given the shifts in brand buying and value buying happening right now, consumer goods can’t risk leaving their brand loyalty by the wayside —­– something especially crucial for membership-focused brands. Now is the time to negotiate with retailers to gain as much shopper data as possible and to maximize co-op marketing budgets with big-box retailers, for example.

Brands have many new opportunities, such as forging partnerships with convenience retailers and online delivery startups that have started selling more consumer goods in recent weeks. These new partnerships may offer new opportunities for personalized messaging, digital loyalty marketing, and new data insights to feed direct marketing programs. Through the right mix of direct and partner-based marketing, food & beverage and consumer goods brands can ensure they stay top of mind and engage with their customers during a time of need.

Given the shifts in brand buying and value buying happening right now, consumer goods can’t risk leaving their brand loyalty by the wayside.

3. Leveraging D2C to answer for the influx of online demand

Many CG and food and beverage companies have traditionally relied on brick-and-mortar distribution channels. As these channels have moved online during the coronavirus, a new opportunity has emerged for brands to start to sell directly to consumers and capture rich data in the process.

Success stories like Quip’s direct-to-consumer toothbrushes or Native deodorant prove latent potential for soft goods to be sold directly, when done well. For brands that have not yet created a direct online sales channel, it is possible to do so quickly.

For example, Pepsi recently announcedthat they are sending products directly to customers. They have bundled items in a theme like “Rise and Shine” and will sell the bundles with a D2C model on their new site and sell more than 100 different food items on the new

The added data that Pepsi will collect from D2C customers will give them insights that can be used across all of their marketing channels, as they will better understand the timing of buying behaviors, how people search on the site, and what items tend to be grouped together in a cart. All of these insights can be used for new product recommendations, offers and personalized messaging across channels and personalized messaging across channels.

Answering challenges and opportunities with personalization

As the initial crisis evolves into a longer-term social distancing pattern, food and beverage and CG brands have an opportunity to review their challenges from the past months, and forge a better path forward. The IRI Demand Indexreports that the week ending April 12 showed a leveling off of panic shopping — although grocery shopping in particular still posted a 13% improvement over the same time last year, while alcohol sales were 27% higher when accounting for closed bars and restaurants.

These statistics demonstrate that brands have a chance to forge new loyalty patterns with recently won customers and with those customers that have come to rely more heavily on consumer goods while at home. That hard-earned loyalty can accelerate the return of pre-crisis revenues as brands ready to get back to business as usual.

Lisa Kalscheur currently serves as chief marketing officer at Kibo.