Why Messaging Is Make or Break for CPG Brands    
By Travis Montaque

It’s a new decade. It’s time to reevaluate where CPG brands should be investing and what new models and technologies are available. What makes this exciting is that today, CPG brands have the potential to remove barriers and directly engage with customers where they are. Messaging specifically is an area still new to marketers, making it the perfect time to get ahead of competitors and learn the landscape.

In the U.S. alone, over six billion SMS messages are sent every day. Messaging has become integral to our daily lives. People are communicating with one another 24/7, be it with SMS and iMessage or Tik Tok videos. Soon, RCS will mean messaging can shift away from SMS and become more accessible and ubiquitous across devices and platforms.

This presents a unique opportunity for CPG marketers to leverage messaging to increase brand engagement, influence and loyalty, creating an opportunity for brands to be part of everyday self-expression...literally.

Looking Past ‘Shooting Star’ Channels
Diving into popular channels like Tik Tok is catching on because they’re the new, shiny spaces garnering the attention of hard-to-please Gen-Z-ers. Brands repeatedly run to find the next digital channel, exploring ways to stay relevant and diversify their marketing dollars from the Facebook and Google behemoths. Creative teams step in and find clever ways to use these new environments for boosting engagement and cultivating brand relationships in a way that doesn’t intrude on a generation while they’re busy socializing. But people have to want to connect with brands, not just passively scroll through.

Brands have always tried to create this connection by tapping into pop culture, like partnering with popular celebrities to engage their audience. In November, for example, Sprite partnered with LeBron James for a Sprite Winter Spiced Cranberry commercial. While Lebron undoubtedly drives excitement, the commercial as a marketing method inherently fails to truly build a rapport with customers since there is no direct interaction. In fact, 57 percent of users dislike video ads before their content on YouTube. They get in the way of what they are really there to see. What brands need is a channel that is here to last; one that fits into tried and true consumer behaviors.

Why Messaging, Why Now
Conversations have always been the carrot on a string for CPG brands. Brands spend countless hours trying to conjure creative ways to be part of everyday conversations, without the power to directly insert themselves. With messaging, CPG brands can now break into this space for the first time. Digital conversations are riddled with creative opportunities, inherently giving brands the ability to surprise consumers, in delightful ways, and at scale.

Messaging – and the high volume of conversations happening online – was basically made for CPG brands. Think about it: success in CPG marketing has always been about brand equity and frequency. Brands need to stay top of mind so that when people are at the checkout counter, they pick up a Snickers bar because they connect with the brand. They choose Snickers both for what the brand stands for and because they have seen it enough that the familiarity makes it intuitively feel right (essential for that few second impulse decision). Messaging enables this familiarity.

While hot social platforms can be excellent conduits for reaching younger audiences, an always-on presence in messaging can break through to larger audiences and give superfans the tools to share brands with those closest to them – like texting a friend about what to buy for the weekend’s party or asking their mom for cleaning advice after said party. It is specifically geared to reach customers across demographics. Messaging is the glue that connects generations of families and friends.

Not only is the CPG industry perfect for messaging, it also has the most to gain because brands can build upon the foundation they’ve already laid in being recognizable in our day-to-day lives. Leaders in CPG have become synonymous with the types of products they make. We ask for a Kleenex when we really just need a tissue and refer to bleach and Clorox interchangeably. In short, they are already a natural part of our day, and therefore a part of the daily messages we send one another.

By integrating into digital messaging channels, CPG companies can build effective and lasting relationships with their customers and use branded content to further associate themselves with these experiences and emotions – be it relief, hanger, love, stress or excitement. It would be a missed opportunity for CPG brands to remove themselves from the conversations they are already a part of.

It’s Now or Never
It is urgent for brands to dive in now because messaging is still fair game. There are no leaders yet, but with messaging technology advancing at a rapid pace, it’s imperative for brands to grow with the landscape, establishing their mark before it becomes oversaturated.  

For the first time ever, technology is advanced enough to allow brands to break through every conversational landscape, be it messaging, dating, social or productivity apps. Thanks to new advancements that support more sophisticated content, along with new third-party applications and platforms that deliver it in intuitive ways, companies can look to messaging to deliver the right high-quality content like videos, memes, stickers or emojis – the type of content that is core to conversations around the world – at relevant moments in time.

Data from these platforms also offers unparalleled insights. Companies are now able to know when and how often content is being used, ensuring the intended sentiment is being felt by users. AI offers seamless content recommendations while tracking engagement and performance in real time. Brands can hone in on what sentiment is resonating with users directly. For example, Pepsi can know within days if its GIFs about family dinners are not resonating with their target audience and Colgate will know right away if users love their morning routine content and produce more to capitalize on the moment.

Messaging is the single-best investment for CPG brands in 2020 to become ever present while engaging with consumers on a deeper, more personal, level by building both brand equity and frequency in an intimate space. It’s imperative for companies to tune into where their customers are communicating and find the right third-party partnership to get in their line of vision. I believe conversational content is just the beginning of this space for marketers. The smart ones are getting in now and figuring out their role with the opportunity to expand into even richer engagement in the future. Through collaboration with partners at the cutting edge, messaging content has the
potential to offer unparalleled success.

Travis Montaque, CEO, of Holler, a global messaging technology company that aims to enrich conversations by creating and delivering original content to add texture and emotion to messaging environments.

CPG VIEWPOINTS             
                                                                   Early April 2020
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