True Nopal social media photograph with happy consumer

Who needs sales when you have friends and followers

FMCG Brands need sales not soft metrics

A cursory glance at the UK’s latest advertising expenditure figures will show brands are allocating more budget on digital marketing. Continually investing vast sums in online campaigns is used as a means of improving their share of voice and share of mind amongst consumers. But according to new research by AlixPartners many of these brands are throwing money down the drain: Their research from over 1,100 decision-makers in markets spanning the globe shows nearly $50bn is wasted annually by FMCG brands!

So how and why are so many organisations getting it so badly wrong?

Many marketing teams want to believe that customers value deep and meaningful relationships with their brands. They convince themselves that the visits, follows, likes, shares and comments of a small handful of individuals demonstrate the validity of this thinking. If any of this were true, why do so many brands struggle to demonstrate the tangible impact of digital marketing on increasing their products rate of sale?

The surprising thing is that there appears to be no direct attribution model that demonstrates how digital marketing impacts in store sales. Perhaps not surprising given that the overwhelming majority of FMCG product purchases still take place offline. That being the case how do digital campaigns command so much share of budget with only soft metrics to justify the expenditure.

Experts may well say that the role of digital is to raise awareness, build the brand and create engagement as opposed to directly influencing in store sales. If that is the case then there must be an assumed impact where digital is concerned to justify the expenditure. The assumption must be that when brands are actively generating likes, shares and follows and product sales rise then digital must be working.

But for this to be true then the opposite must also be correct, when product sales fall then digital marketing has failed. Clearly both of these points of view are flawed as any decent data scientist will tell you. Without a validated attribution model brands cannot determine the causation or correlation affect of their digital activity. But do we even need scientists or clever algorithms to tell us what we already know

The simple but sad truth is that many of us struggle to maintain our personal relationships due to our hectic and busy lifestyles. As a rule we simply don’t have the time or inclination to have regular online interactions with the brands we purchase.

Whilst this point of view may be perceived as heresy amongst some in the marketing communication community, ask yourself these three simple questions if you are not convinced:

  1. When did you last visit the website of your preferred coffee brand?
  2. How many branded products do you follow on social media?
  3. Have you ever left a review of your favourite tooth paste brand?

The uncomfortable truth is that as consumers we don’t want or need to have a relationship with the brands who own the products we purchase. We don’t value social media interactions or a constant and intrusive stream of communications. Instead we value real life human interactions and value products that deliver on the experience they claim to provide.

So how can brands engage time poor savvy shoppers who have heard it all before? Following the same old models of marketing is no longer a guarantee of success if they want to stand out, cut through and grow sales. After all, marketing communications are only a promise of what a product could deliver in an already over communicated world.

You see, the moment of truth for brands looking to capture market share is when consumers try a product and decide for themselves whether it is right for them. At this point they can make an informed choice based on their own needs, tastes and budget. They can compare and contrast features and benefits and actively select one product over another – and 99.9999% of this is done at store.

At Link Communication our retail sampling and sales activation experience has shown us the power of getting a product sample into the hands of customers and empowering them to decide for themselves is optimised at or near the point of purchase. It’s then that building trust through friendly, warm and personal contact really engages consumers with factual and emotive storytelling – right at the point of purchase.

We know that to create commercial success in our highly competitive world, brands need to humanise their products and narratives in a meaningful and relevant way, to cut through the indifference and cynicism that most of us have regarding product claims and advertising. Sampling allows customers to taste it for themselves and see!

Our person to person approach ensures we can create emotional and rational connections quickly and relate to consumers on a human level. By doing so we are ideally placed to inspire them to try something different, change meal-time repertoires and add new products to their baskets – across all chains of retailers.

Still Not Convinced Or Curious To See It In Action

Check out this current case study to see the impact of this approach on rate of sale