FMCG Marketing: Closing The Online-Offline Loop

Stuart Elmes


If you were to ask someone what online marketing was, you might hear about Facebook ads, Google algorithms, and pop-ups. If you asked that same person what offline marketing was you’d probably hear about TV, radio, and print. If someone was especially plugged-in, they might make reference to ad-words, sponsored Instagram posts, and augmented reality. But most people would likely conclude that offline marketing was rapidly becoming obsolete, and online marketing was taking over the world. But before we make any grand pronouncements, we should remember that the same experts and trend-watchers who were proven to be premature with their eulogies for brick and mortar retailers are likewise far too eager to pronounce offline marketing dead. In fact, just as in retail, closing the loop and integrating the best of both worlds will be essential for success in 2019 and beyond. 

It’s Not Me, It’s You

FMCG marketing: closing the online-offline loop

Telling consumers what they want is rarely a winning strategy. Every customer wants to have their cake and eat it too. In FMCG we’ve already seen purely digital models evolve to allow the customer to keep the aspects of traditional retail experiences that they like while removing the headaches they don't from the shopping experience. This basic idea of focusing on the customer is driving innovations like Amazon Go stores - which eliminate checkout lines, and click and collect shopping - which makes trips to the supermarket a breeze. When it comes to marketing, remember two things customers have always loved: authentic experiences cooking and eating, and free samples!

Experiential Marketing Will Open Doors (And Web Pages)

FMCG Marketing: Closing The Online-Offline Loop

If you’re looking to build interest in a product or start relationships with consumers, algorithms and chatbots are often the wrong answer. Special events and experiences designed to elicit surprise, wonder, and curiosity will be far more effective than yet another marketing email or banner ad. One of the best examples of experiential marketing we’ve ever seen was the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man busting through the concourse of London’s Waterloo Station to promote the 2016 Ghostbusters film. The human brain is designed to gain pleasure from unexpected events, and if you want consumers to associate your brand with pleasure, a creative pop-up shop, unforgettable event, or free sample will deliver a branded experience that no amount of Instagram tags or email newsletters can come close to. If you're lucky, it might even go viral.

In fact, we’ve seen many online “pureplay” retailers (brands that sell exclusively online) open brick and mortar stores and displays that are designed to provide an experience rather than sell products. Leading mattress brand Casper has opened physical stores designed for fun and sensory experiences to build a bridge to online sales, while makeup brand Glossier has opened lavish showrooms where customers can sample products and share pictures of the results and the opulent decor on social media.

In FMCG the opportunity is there for retailers and brands to open test kitchens, pop-up stores, cooking schools, and perhaps even model farms. Consumers are increasingly conscious of health, wellness, and sustainability, and using experiential marketing to connect with them and provide valuable information will allow you to connect, and build positive word of mouth and social media presence in ways micro-targeted emails never will. 

Offering experiences is a wonderful way to increase conversion rates and integrate online and offline strategies. An email address, app download, completed survey, or social media follow will be a small price to pay for a consumer to gain a memorable experience, whether it’s cooking with a celebrity chef or touring an organic farm with young children. IKEA has capitalized on this trend by launching sleepover parties around the world. Customers register for the contest, and a small number of winners get a sleepover experience that includes massages, snacks, yoga, and product giveaways. The company benefits from news stories, thousands of customer email addresses, and a flood of social media posts from the contest winners and their families. By providing consumers with an eye-opening, one of a kind day, you could earn a lifetime of loyalty and a substantial positive buzz. 

Be Ready For The Moment

FMCG Marketing: Closing The Online-Offline Loop

When you’re giving a wide-eyed, grateful customer a special treat, it’s time to close your loop. It’s essential that you maximize the opportunity to collect data, earn social media follows, and make sure they download your app. But don’t forget your number one priority: sales! This is especially important for retailers who hope to capitalize on trends in product replenishment and subscription services. Retailers like Graze, a British company which learns your snacking preferences and delivers customized packs of healthy(ish) snacks, or HelloFresh, a leading American meal-kit provider, need to translate offline experiences to online sales, before the customer forgets all about that delicious free sample or meal prep class.

It is essential for these subscription and replenishment-driven brands to have a seamless path to purchase, and the answer here seems to be shoppable packaging. Allowing a quick scan, photo, or voice command to enroll consumers will be huge in converting samples and experiences into a lifetime’s worth of sales. Someone who encounters your pop-up or street team or sample stall probably isn’t going to find time in that moment to enter emails, establish passwords, and add billing addresses to create an account. The onus is on brands who need to create the digital infrastructure for immediate purchase, making use of shoppability and voice technology, and connecting with retailers and payment apps to allow prospective customers to breeze through checkout.

Integrate your marketing approach to build on offline conversion and online customer retention, or let sales slip through your fingertips. If you’re looking for proven marketing solutions in shoppable marketing and add to basket technology, you’re looking for Adimo!