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Meeting liquid expectations: Marketing’s role in the digital path to purchase​

CPG companies are developing integrated, cross-channel strategies to stay relevant in an increasingly interconnected world.

As consumers make digital technology a natural part of their lives, their shopping habits have evolved rapidly. Their expectations have become ‘liquid’. Given the chance to pay seamlessly for one product or service, they ask why they can’t pay seamlessly for everything. If they experience personalization on one channel, they start to expect it across all channels. Meanwhile, they value content and social media that reflects their lifestyles – yet complain of “app fatigue” as companies compete for their attention with proliferating channels and platforms.

In response, leading CPG companies are not just keeping up with emerging digital technologies – they are focusing on creating intuitive and meaningful consumer experiences across key channels and formats. And, increasingly, their marketing teams are playing a vital role in making this happen.

For success across today’s digital path to purchase, three critical elements come into play.

Developing meaningful experiences

To build customer loyalty, leading CPG companies are creating seamless and personalized experiences. For many, this means working with retailers to target consumers through a combination of online and offline channels. In a sector as competitive as CPG, however, there is no shortage of rival initiatives vying for attention. How can CPG companies ensure their initiatives stand out from the competition?

Marketers’ deep insight into consumer needs plays an essential role here. Whether developing more flexible click-and-collect for busy professionals, or offering digital coupons personalized to specific segments, marketers’ knowledge of their consumer base ensures they are developing initiatives that support their brands and engage with the most valuable consumers, shoppers, and households.

Experimenting with disruptive technologies

Consumers are increasingly open to wearable and nearable technologies. In turn, CPG companies see these technologies as a few frontier in customer engagement. Whether developing technologies to alert consumers to the products they need to replenish when they next visit a store, to working with retailers on personalized and location-based special offers, the possibilities are endless.

For many CPG companies, however, the challenge is in deciding which technologies to prioritize and dedicate investment. Backing the wrong technology, or offering a service that doesn’t “click” with the market, can be extremely damaging. Once again, marketers will be key in deciding which combinations of technologies will work best with the consumer base.

Preparing to atomize data

Digital technologies are harvesting consumer data like never before. CPG companies are using this data to design increasingly personalized shopping experiences that reflect consumer habits wherever they are – whether at home, commuting to work or on vacation. Yet too many CPG companies are already beginning to feel paralyzed by the sheer scale of data that they are gathering. Marketing teams play a critical role in ensuring this data is used effectively as a means to engage with consumers. To do so, they recognize that success isn’t just about gathering more data, but applying the next level of intelligence that comes from extensive consumer insight.

CPG marketing teams’ in-depth understanding of changing consumer behavior already plays a crucial part in the digital path to purchase. Their contribution does not, however, end here. As they look ahead, marketers will play a growing role in making digital innovation part of the company’s DNA. Whether working more closely with sales teams to ensure new initiatives are adopted successfully, or building partnerships with retailers for combined impact, marketing is key to the digital future of CPG.