CG Cos. See E-Commerce Efforts Complementing Traditional Channels

eiu-cg-consumer-engagement-channels-mar-2012.jpgGlobal consumer goods manufacturers are seeing the potential for traditional and direct-to-consumer initiatives to complement each other, according to an Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) survey, sponsored by Oracle, released in February 2012. This is partly reflected by the equal importance they see in diverse channels for consumer engagement: while in-store marketing has been more important than social media to their consumer engagement efforts over the past 12 months (73% vs. 54% giving them a top-2 box score on a 5-point scale), the two are on par when it comes to their perceived importance over the next 12 months (74% vs. 73%).

Digital Channels to Increase in Importance

Although more respondents gave co-marketing with a retail partner (61%), print/TV ads (60%), and consumer loyalty programs (59%) a top 2 box score than online channels such as digital marketing (53%) and email (50%), that gap will soon narrow.

Over the next 12 months, a higher proportion see the importance of digital marketing than in the past year (66% vs. 53%), while almost half see mobile devices as important, a significant increase from 35% who rated the channel as having been important to them in the past year.

Brand Awareness, Sales Top Direct to Consumer Objectives

Data from EIU’s “New directions” indicates that the top objectives of CG marketers’ direct-to-consumer initiatives are to enhance brand awareness (70%), increase sales (69%), and to a lesser extent, to increase interaction with the brand (59%). A significant proportion also want to gather consumer insights to improve the product (44%) or improve marketing programs (35%).

Overall, 41% of respondents say they work with their retail partners on a variety of marketing, sales, and service programs, though 23% say that while they are collaborate with retail partners, they are committed to expanding their competing direct-to-consumer strategies. Indeed, 41% say they will sell products directly to consumers over the next 12 months, up from the 24% who currently offer direct sales.

Budgets Reflect Approach Mixed Approach

22% of respondents say they have increased the share of total spending dedicated to trade promotion (partnering with retailers and wholesalers) to complement direct-to-consumer programs. Another 29% say consumer marketing programs have had no effect on trade promotion spending, while one-quarter of the respondents have shifted some trade promotion budget to direct-to-consumer programs.

Other Findings:

  • 73% of respondents intend to use social media over the next 12 months to promote products or services as part of a marketing campaign, while 63% plan to use the channel to gather feedback to drive product/service requirements, and 62% to provide customer service. 41% plan to use the channel to sell products. This represents a 71% rise from 24% of respondents who said they had used social media to sell products in the past 12 months. Although there has been a lot of discussion on the future of “social commerce,” a Booz & Company estimate released in January 2012 forecast the dollar volume of goods sold through social media to rise sixfold by 2015, to $30 billion from $5 billion in 2011. The company limited its estimate to hard goods such as electronics, apparel, and movie tickets.
  • Most CG marketers say purchase data (61%) is important for garnering valuable consumer insights, while about 2 in 5 say lifestyle data is important, and about one-third consumer demand data and market data.
  • 72% agree that their ability to capture and analyze large data sets (“big data”) has improved their efforts to attract and retain customers.

About the Data: The EIU survey is based on a survey of 221 CG executives. 31% hailed from the Asia-Pacific region, 27% from North America, 28% from Europe, 10% from the Middle East/North Africa, and 3% from Latin America. 40% were C-level executives, and the remainder were senior executives and managers. All respondents were from companies with over US$1 billion in revenue.