Marketing CPG in the COVID-19 Era: A Rebel Webinar

Many marketers in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) space are essentially frozen, waiting for the dust to settle and the market to stabilize. Put simply, that’s a mistake: you cannot afford to go dark.

That was the topic of a recent webinar hosted by Rebels Jess Reilly, Ilana Traeger, and Nina Velic. There is no sign that will announce when it will be okay to resume advertising. Now is the time to take action to retain existing customers and attract new customers.

Building trust and awareness by staying relevant

Laid off, furloughed, or working-from-home, customers are spending more time consuming and engaging with content. This represents an opportunity for CPG brands to join the online conversation in order to grow brand awareness and customer relationships.

But marketers can’t just rush into promoting themselves digitally. Consumers’ mindsets have now shifted dramatically; people are looking for comfort due to high levels of stress, and seek  value as income is uncertain. This is the time to re-evaluate your target audience, assess their mindset, and target your content accordingly.

The good news for CPG brands is that demand for cooking content is high. While stuck at home (and ostensibly cooking), consumers are spending more time in the kitchen, experimenting with new recipes, and showing off culinary exploits on social media. 

Some potential customers are looking primarily for comfort food, while others seek healthy alternatives while routines are disrupted and opportunities to exercise are limited. The best practice is to identify the right audience segments to target, depending on the product and the brand, and serve it up to order.

Key CPG marketing tactics

People are craving human connection while social distancing, and among the most fundamental ways human beings connect is through food. Brands that succeed in this environment are those that show their authenticity and sustainability and/or support a healthy lifestyle. Given how much content people are consuming online, social media influencers also have great potential to reach customers.

Since sending people to stores is not feasible during a pandemic, CPG brands should explore affiliate marketing or partnerships with subscription services in order to have their products delivered. In addition to increasing sales in the short term, these strategies will build long-term brand awareness and loyalty by getting customers to try out the product.

Another particularly powerful strategy is personalization. In general, when customers invest time and information to personalize products, they are more likely to continue buying from the same brand. And the power of personalization has been further amplified by the pandemic: people are looking for some semblance of control over their own lives, and personalization delivers. As an example, this partially explains the popularity of the Nintendo Switch game Animal Crossing: New Horizons, in which players are given tremendous freedom to personalize their in-game avatars, houses, and islands.

Pivoting to a post-pandemic world means raising brand awareness online

One of the central realities of these times is that consumers are less brand-centric now than ever before. This is a challenge for brands, but also an opportunity: customers are more likely to try new products, and with online food sales up nearly 70 percent, there is tremendous potential to reach first-time customers and turn them into repeat customers. CPG brands that want to ride this wave need to diversify their advertising strategies, leverage gamification and loyalty programs, and invest time and effort in both organic and paid media to create and strengthen customer relationships.

It’s time to shift your mindset and start playing offense as you bring your brand into this new reality. If that sounds like a plan, contact Rebel today to find out how we can help.

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