Campbell Soup Rolling Out
New Marketing Strategy to Engage Consumers
By John Karolefski
For years, the Campbell Soup Company has relied on traditional marketing to spark sales of its iconic soup and impressive portfolio of brands such as Prego, Swanson and V8, among others. But that is not good enough anymore to insure success
A rapid shift in consumer behavior and expectations prompted Campbell to set out on a journey to develop a new marketing strategy. To appeal to today’s digitally-engaged shoppers, the food company is rolling out a program that aims to transform its corporate culture and create experiences for consumers.
“We are part of the way through the journey,” said Mike Senackerib, Chief Marketing Officer. “We are moving from treating digital as a digital marketing department to something that is much more holistic and engaging.”
He said “a dramatically changing consumer landscape” is prompting the change at Campbell.
“There has been a real shift from what has been advertising to what is connection. All of the discussion has been about story telling and engagement. It’s really a different way for us to think about things – moving from broadcasting a brand story to creating experiences that people want,” he said in a recent presentation at the Food Industry Summit, hosted by the food marketing department of St. Joseph’s University at its campus in Philadelphia.
“I like to use the words ‘consumer experience’ when we think about marketing because it’s no longer a one-way dialogue,” he said. “We are moving from thinking of people as shoppers or consumers to thinking about people as people because their lives don’t stop and start when they get in the store and out of the store. It’s a continuous seamless flow.”
Here is a look at the three-part program:
Campbell’s new approach positions the consumer in a prime position for all marketing efforts. “It has to start with the consumer. As we have evolved our model, ‘Consumer First’ is at the center,” Senackerib said. “Getting our understanding of consumer insights and our positioning really crystal clear in this new world is more important than ever.”
Senackerib explained how the consumer landscape is changing by pointing to Millennials and to families. “The Millennials are more diverse and digitally savvy. They think about things differently and will soon become an economic engine of the country. Also, families are changing. The family today is looking less and less like a mom, dad and kids. This is important to Campbell because as a food company we have always marketed to families,” he said.
Campbell has a program called Digital Fitness for all 15,000 employees to help them live the life that consumers live and understand what consumers are doing.
“It’s about making us more digitally fit,” said Senackerib. “Digital ideas can’t succeed unless we change the culture of the organization. It’s not about educating people one time. It’s about wiring into the DNA of all the employees. Certainly it’s much easier said than done, but it’s important. It’s about a lifestyle change. It’s an everyday commitment so that we begin to change behavior.”
He used the example of smartphones. Three years ago all Campbell employees were using Blackberrys while consumers were using iPhones. So the company switched brands.
Campbell gives its employees Digital Fitness Kits so they can learn about the devices that regular consumers use. Included are devices for monitoring health and fitness and for viewing “smart” TV, along with popular apps that consumers are using.
The company holds Digital Horizons Days where digital experts from its partners around the world come to the headquarters and present to everyone, not just sales and marketing.
There are social media hubs in two locations that consist of six screens apiece feeding trending and tracking information, live news, and related intelligence.
“With the push of a button, we can change all of the screens for a brand. So if the Swanson broth team wants to talk about Swanson broth, we can populate that data. The other important thing is that the social media experts can do this at their desktop. The rest of the organization needs this room. It’s placed right in the middle of marketing so everybody walking by can stop and ask what’s going on with their brand.
“Our cultural shift is on-going,” he went on to say. “As part of our marketing curriculum, we are now training everyone around the world with a much more decided emphasis on digital. We have added digital and social experts in different areas of the organization.
We have digital experts sitting in shopper marketing. We have social media experts aligned with our brands. Our goal is to become the most digitally fit CPG organization in the world to drive continued growth and innovation. It is the way that distinguishes us and it is a way we can talk about our products. It’s all about being wired for digital,” he said.
New Marketing Approach
Senackerib stressed that it’s important to follow where the consumers are going. For example, consumers are now spending up to 30% of their viewing time on digital and mobile, so Campbell is beginning to shift a lot of its dollars out of TV, print and radio and into digital and mobile spaces.
“That shift will continue,” he said. “We need to continue to follow and chase where consumers are going. We are also making sure that the content goes across all screens. So as the Hispanic audience becomes more and more important, and we will have more Hispanic content across all of our screens.”
Senackerib used the example of Campbell’s Kitchen, the enormously successful interactive program offering recipes on the web, social media and on mobile devices.
“We are doing recipes targeted to people on Facebook and getting real-time feedback from our customers,” he said. “So we’re learning a lot about what is happening with our recipes.”
Last year the company offered an awards contest that invited developers to “Hack the Kitchen” and create web or mobile apps that make people's lives easier when it comes to finding recipes and cooking. The Food Mood was the winner. The idea is to pick a mood from a mood screen that will help consumers select a recipe. For example, a sad mood would result in comfort recipes.
Looking to the future, Senackerib predicted that marketing would continued to be more personalized and more real time. eCommerce will increase, but he said Campbell wants to work with all retail channels to figure out how to benefit its consumers, customers and brands.
There is a shift “from brand and product marketing to consumer and experience marketing,” he summed up. “That changes the approach in everything we do.”