Are CPG Brands Maximizing Return on Digital Investment?
By Jack Grant
What CPG manufacturers have invested millions of dollars in their brand websites and social media. Yet they struggle to show how much their brand websites are influencing brand purchases in stores – or if they influence those purchases at all.
To find answers, a major study by Accenture, comScore, and dunnhumbyUSA aimed to determine the correlation between consumer use of CPG brand websites and their purchase behavior in stores. The results were startling: Visitors to CPG brand websites buy 37% more in retail stores than non-visitors to brand websites. The website visitors also spent 53% more on the product category in retail stores.
Specifically, the research aimed to accomplish three objectives:
- Quantify the retail sales value of the visitors to various brand websites
- Identify the most valuable features and content that can be provided on CPG brand websites
- Provide insights and opportunities to further explore online destinations where Internet marketers can best reach their brand buyers and prospects.
The study concluded that to maximize impact, website content needs to be updated regularly and contain brand value messaging that both engages visitors while also providing compelling reasons for them to purchase the brand at retail.
Jerry Lohse, senior director, Accenture Interactive said, “Marketers who create compelling CPG brand website experiences for consumers are extremely effective in driving incremental and profitable in-store sales.”
To illustrate his point, Lohse said, “Analysis shows that consumers visiting the best of the ten CPG brand websites evaluated in the research study, spent over 200% more on the brand than non-visitors. Moreover, the research shows that the price paid per unit of the brand at the best of the ten CPG brand websites in the study was 2% more than for non-visitors in brand.”
comScore vice president Mike Zeman added, “CPG marketers currently invest millions of dollars in their brand websites, and the results of this study confirm the importance of this investment. Brand websites can attract and influence the behavior of the most valuable segments of any brand’s franchise. But it’s clear that the content and utilities on these sites need to be highly engaging if they are to attract a meaningful numbers of visitors. Marketers who do this successfully stand to gain an attractive return by growing their brands’ sales in retail stores.”
The study found that visitors to CPG brand websites are valuable and frequent buyers of the brand in retail stores, completing 41% more transactions than non-visitors. As a result, brand websites are able to attract heavier-than-average brand buyers, who spend 37% more on the brand in retail stores than non-visitors. Website visitors also are also heavier buyers within a brand’s product category, spending 53% more category dollars than non-visitors.
“The research highlights the significant yet underutilized potential of brand websites and digital communications as key drivers for building customer loyalty and preference for CPG brands,” said John LaRocca, Vice President, Strategic Partnerships at dunnhumbyUSA. “Since website visitors have higher affinity to the brand and the overall product category, there is an opportunity for brand marketers to drive loyalty through personalizing the website experience, catering to the preferences of their best customers.”
The length of time that visitors spend on a brand’s website was found to be a key determinant of their likelihood to buy the brand in retail stores. The study identified three important characteristics of brand websites that are associated with a higher likelihood that visitors will buy the brand in retail stores:
1. Brand value messaging that provides a persuasive reason for a website visitor to buy the brand
2. Fresh content updated on at least a weekly basis, such as “pulse surveys”, user generated reviews, status on weight loss plans, etc.
3. Content that engages visitors. This can include promotions, philanthropic appeals, demonstrations, live chat, apps and games.
The research was conducted with the endorsement of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and the Food Marketing Institute (FMI).
“Creating a better understanding of the relationship between a brand’s online presence and real-world shopping is important, relevant and timely to our membership and their future growth potential,” noted Denny Belcastro, Executive Vice President, Industry Affairs and Collaboration, GMA. Patrick Walsh, Senior Vice President, Industry Relations, Education and Research, FMI, added, “Finally some tangible observations pointing to a return on our members’ brand digital spend… looking forward to the next phase that adds social media as well.”
That next phase of the study is planned later this year to help CPG brand marketers better understand the difference between brand websites, social networks and other digital marketing channels, including display advertising, in their ability to reach specific types of in-store brand buyers. CPG brand marketers interested in participating in this research study should contact Mike Gorshe, Senior Director, Accenture Consumer Goods & Services at email@example.com or (312) 693-5818. Deadline to participate is March 31, 2012.