The consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry epitomizes the speed and shifting demands of the modern marketplace. What might be an absolute in CPG one moment is an outdated thought the next as affinities seem to change course with the slightest of breezes. These dynamics can create difficulties for brands trying to navigate such rapidly changing tides, making it essential to identify, analyze, and act upon critical insights to guide the way.
Along with those dynamics innate to the industry, CPG is also in the midst of a fundamental change to its traditional model. In lockstep with the rise of the digital economy itself, CPG is now moving away from a complete reliance on retailers to include a substantial direct-to-customer (DTC) channel that only amplifies the need to gather and act upon consumer insights.
As that channel continues to grow in importance through repeat business and subscription-based sales, CPG brands must develop and maintain an in-depth understanding of their consumer segments. That ever-important, intimate knowledge goes far beyond the short-term motivations of a trip to a store but, instead, to what drives strong and lasting bonds that brand loyalty and awareness are built upon.
If brands are willing and able to devote the necessary resources to reveal and act on those consumer insights with a more personalized and informed approach to their messaging, they position themselves to capture market share and leverage the benefits of a loyal audience. However, as research has revealed, while customers are willing to pay up to 16% more for a superior customer experience that’s tailored to their individual affinities, only 20% of consumers feel like companies truly understand them. Needless to say, there’s much work to be done if a CPG brand wants to take full advantage of DTC sales and other burgeoning, consumer-facing channels.
A leader in providing consumer insights across the spectrum of modern industries -- CPG included -- Oculus360 (O360) has the singular goal of helping brands mine the vast digital landscape for guidance and vision. With revelatory tools like Digital Landscapes and Consumer Portraits, O360 gives CPG companies the ability to leverage key insights to help them determine where they stand within the marketplace. As CPG brands construct and implement strategies to deliver effective messages to their target audiences, brands can focus on the following consumer insights to maximize impact and conversions. Given the continually shape-shifting nature of the CPG industry itself, frequently gauging these specific insights will always provide brands a much-needed messaging compass and, if properly utilized, the agility to pivot as the dynamic market dictates.
A consumer base is much more than a static set of demographics. It’s made of individuals with unique belief systems, emotions, and motivations that often predict behavior more than simple age, ethnicity, or geographical categories. This dynamic is where psychographics can be so indispensable to a CPG brand, finding connection points with the target audience that form at deeper, more enduring levels. In short, psychographic analyses harness consumer lifestyles and opinions to help develop detailed profiles around activities, interests, and concerns.
These data points are then combined with more traditional demographic and geographic data to form a comprehensive, lifelike picture of the audience that informs a brand’s messaging and product development. Think of psychographics as the motivations behind consumer behavior rather than the identification or description of the customers themselves. In the CPG industry, audience affinities and buying trends are in a perpetual state of motion so, as such, brands that speak to consumer insights on a more profound basis can form connections that weather those constant shifts. Psychographics are akin to the calm waters within the eye of a storm, a reliable respite from the continual undulations in consumer behavior, that leverage emotion and personal belief systems to form those much-needed bonds.
Consumer behavior and particular events are permanently intertwined. These occasions of use link specific products with moments and seasonal trends, like hot dogs for football tailgates or the ubiquitous pumpkin spice flavor throughout the holidays. CPG brands can utilize these experiential, sensory-driven connections between product and occasions to their advantage, relying on the powerful notions of familiarity and nostalgia to establish consistency in message and motivation.
In fact, the pumpkin spice phenomenon in recent years provides a relevant example of the power of occasions and product marketing. Growing from relative obscurity in the early 2000s to an over $600 million seasonal industry, the autumnal flavor is now readily available in everything from breakfast cereals to dog food just as leaves start to change color. CPG brands continue to leverage that intense sense of seasonal nostalgia to their benefit with no slowdown in sight.
When a consumer is engaged with a brand, they're more willing to participate in a brand's mission and vision. Engagement constructs an enduring bond that can help a CPG brand rely on some degree of consistency as a maelstrom of shifting tastes and demand muddy the CPG marketing waters. Since CPG products typically have shorter shelf lives and, thus, consumers purchase them more frequently, purchase motivations are much shorter than other industries, making consumer engagement particularly important. Engaged customers are also a company's best customers, becoming brand advocates that aren't hesitant to wear their loyalties on their sleeves and provide the building blocks to brand awareness through word-of-mouth marketing. Interaction with engaged customers is a critical component of fully leveraging the power of engagement, in essence rewarding loyalty with active communication that validates their devotion to a brand and its products. In the digital age, social media is both a convenient and powerful channel to foster engagement and extend a brand's voice through interaction.
Sentiment insights weave their way through other insights like occasions and engagement, revealing a consumer's authentic feeling towards a CPG brand. Identifying and analyzing these nuanced insights helps companies determine the strengths and weaknesses underlying their branding, messaging, and even product offerings to establish consistency in an ever-changing environment. From an insights perspective, sentiment analysis can identify subtleties in consumer opinions strewn throughout the digital landscape, utilizing technologies like AI and natural language processing (NLP) to interpret its meaning and transform it to quantifiable data.
This measured approach helps brands better understand how the target audience perceives them as well as its messaging and product offerings. Such an approach gives marketers a high-level view of their audience likes and dislikes, passions and peeves. From there, campaigns and branding efforts can be optimized to better align with the true feelings and motivations driving consumer decision-making.
How O360 Helps CPG Brands
Of course, merely identifying the top consumer insights for CPG brands isn't enough to leverage their power. Thankfully, O360s technology-driven tools like Digital Landscapes and Consumer Portraits allow CPG companies to utilize consumer commentary to their ultimate advantage, mining conversations and authentic opinions to develop highly accurate audience profiles that can guide both messaging and product design.Digital Landscapes, for instance, use AI to sift through the seemingly endless streams of online conversations to identify those that specifically impact a CPG product category or an individual company within it. Using machine learning and NLP, Digital Landscapes reveals trends in consumer affinities and expectations through a wide range of data points, including:
Likewise, O360’s Consumer Portraits analyze consumer motivations which, as discussed, is essential for CPG brands to understand to find lasting success. Built upon psychographics and other insights culled from publicly shared information from online profiles, Consumer Portraits allow CPG companies to personalize their messaging, amplifying the engagement between brand and consumer. CPG brands face specific challenges that create unique hurdles relative to other industries.
By concentrating on insights like psychographics, occasions of use, engagements, and sentiment, companies don't have to feel like their marketing bulls-eye sits atop a perpetually moving base. With O360’s technology and guidance, CPG brands cannot only uncover those key insights but, just as importantly, transform them into a critical sense of direction. If deliberate and consistent, these insights can inform decision making and help brands drive the awareness, loyalty, and subsequent conversions needed to succeed in an incredibly dynamic industry.