In-Flight Measurement and Optimization Paired with Full-Funnel, Omni-Channel Marketing Will Help Your Brand Succeed in 2023

Measure, Optimize On-the-Go To Respond to Inflation, Shortages, Lifestyle Shifts

The pace and scope of change requires CPG marketers to use real-time measurement to help them quicken their step and respond to today’s multiple disruptions. By constantly recalibrating at scale, marketers can find the nuances within audiences, activating strategically, and measuring on-the-go so you can pivot faster.

For example, a popular line of breakfast products had used a traditional media metric—video completion rates—to measure success. However, for their latest campaign they took a different approach. Using multi-touch attribution, they learned that shoppers who watched 60% of a 60-second video converted more often to incremental sales than those who watched 100% of a 15-second version of the same message. They also discovered that animated ads were more effective at driving sales, requiring 30% fewer impressions for the same number of sales, and shifted the ad budget in flight.

I wish I’d had this ability during my first career in the CPG industry as a brand manager for Conagra Brands. I managed billion-dollar brands and smaller regional stars, and what remained consistent is that every dollar spent -- whether through trade investment or advertising -- needed to move the needle. Sometimes we were looking to drive awareness or increase loyalty, but we always wanted to positively impact sales in an incremental way.

Oftentimes, my team and I looked back to move forward. We’d review the return on ad spend of a campaign, learn from what the metrics taught us, and plot how to improve results.

However, today inflation is fueling more price-based trial, creating a “need to navigate a very, very choppy short-term period,” according to Coca-Cola CMO Manolo Arroyo† . Ongoing supply chain issues complicate planning and budgets; industry reports‡ estimate empty shelves squashed $82B in CPG sales last year. Dramatic shifts in consumer behavior continue more than 2.5 years after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic.

As CPG marketers finalize how to allocate their budgets for 2023, it will be critical to embrace these three strategies that make it easier to act quickly and efficiently:

Think Less Linearly — Be agile and understand that what works for one brand or one audience might be different from another. Or, for one season (holiday) versus another (Super Bowl). Create omni-channel campaigns that can find and engage your most valuable audiences, including upper funnel tactics such as Connected TV (CTV) and digital Out of Home as well lower funnel in-store tactics. Understand what is driving the impact you are looking for – from brand awareness to sales performance.

Think of campaigns as a series of concentric ad flights, differing in length and intensity. Use sequential marketing to simultaneously engage shoppers differently based on how they respond to an ad. You can then suppress an offer to someone who’s already purchased a product and offer it up to another target after they’ve been exposed to your advertising. This not only makes your budget stretch farther, but also creates a frictionless customer experience.

Don’t Assume Loyalty – Don’t assume your loyal buyer’s behavior will remain the same as it was yesterday. The WSJ° reports most consumers (70%) say inflation and shortages are prompting them to buy new or different brands than they did pre-pandemic, including private label.

Loyalty alone won’t offset inflation. Continue incentivizing so your best shoppers can stay with the brand they love. Use data to understand their behavior so you can reach them in a relevant way wherever they are along the path to purchase. Use awareness-driving ads and trade-considerations to address price while staying flexible by leveraging a portfolio of digital omni-channel tactics.

Use channels such as CTV to build measurable awareness, then as shoppers move toward purchase tweak your messaging content and couple that with incentives that drive specific shoppers in-store. Even the most steadfast consumers want brands to reciprocate them for their loyalty. Continue to woo them with meaningful offers.

Speed Matters More Than Ever — Getting results while your campaign is still running can be the difference between an okay campaign and a great one. Focus on what’s driving purchase conversion now--then optimize as you go.

In-flight optimization allows you to see what’s driving performance. You can discover in real time which creative execution or what media channel – or combination of channels – is delivering the best results from each of your target audiences.

Real-time consumer behavior and purchase data and measurement tools like these can help you keep up with changing marketplace dynamics. Inflation, broken supply chain, and shifting tastes and lifestyle preferences will continue to evolve in the coming year. What can change is how quickly you pivot to react to them.

†Adweek, August 2022
‡Supply Chain Dive, February 2022
°WSJ, March 2022