An article about Warren Buffet’s purchase of Heinz brought up a number of hopes and concerns. While a Buffett deal usually indicates long-term value, that is seldom the case in a private equity firm's goals. This short-term view was also expressed by the Campbell's CEO in saying it was a "heightened signal" to cut costs. Is it a good idea to find cheaper ways to produce soup in a can when the Ramen-inspired generation of shoppers doesn't own a can opener?
Better news would have been that this is a wake-up call to return to long-term brand equity aimed at the current and emerging generations of connected shoppers. While most in packaged goods/retail food know about and have explored social media and mobile marketing, have they really taken a look at how deeply shopper behavior has changed? Recently, Google noted that we live in two states: we sleep and we're connected. In this always-on, fast-moving environment, where the average shopper uses 10.4 sources of information to make purchase decisions (and often does that in minutes, in the store), marketing "campaigns" don't work.
Social/Local/Mobile (SoLoMo) has empowered shoppers. When shoppers see an in-store message or direct mail, etc., they no longer reach for the package or the scissors. They reach for their phone. "Is that really a good deal?" "Oh, that product is interesting, but what are the brand options?" "Let me see what my social groups think of this product."
The data has been there for some time. Some are saying mobile doesn't work, or social media is smoke and mirrors. Some are even calling failure success. In a recent presentation of a "successful" mobile campaign:
- 7 million impressions
- 0.92% engagement
- 3,400 likes
Really? 99.08% of your shoppers ignored you -- or as we know from mobile data, actually diminished their opinion of your brand – this cannot be a definition of success. Brands sometimes seem to be stuck in an illusionary view of their shoppers (video).
A greater challenge to brands is that they are becoming the outliers. Other verticals have already shifted to a campaign-less, long-term engagement model. For example, Arby's recent roast burger promotion received 72,000 responses. They have turned that into a 500,000-shopper database of loyals who expect further engagement. In this model, acquisition comes through advocacy by these engaging loyals. As shoppers realize the possibility of true engagement, they are becoming more selective about brand loyalty.
Fortunately, as digital shopper marketers, we have a head start. We understand data and behavior. By thinking beyond the campaign, integrating what we know about data with the contextual opportunity of mobile/social/real-time behavior, we can lead clients to the promised land of engagement that will grow long-term brand loyalty.
But only if we let go of the campaign first.