How do you keep customers engaged and invested in your brand?
Such a great question. As you know, CPGs are new to the DTC game. And I mean that in a broader sense than eComm, in a direct to consumer engagement sense. We have historically built and sustained brands in a rather ‘one-way’ manner. We, of course, do a lot of consumer insights research and try and listen to the consumer, but still in a very ‘episodic’ relationship. It wasn’t until recently, with the rise of digitalization, social media and eComm, that we were able to establish a true dialogue, one where we immediately get feedback and input from consumers.
Social media is crucial here. I recently learned from John Ridgway, our brilliant eComm Marketing Director, that historically, retention had been widely understood as ‘opting in’ an email program, something still very passive (e.g. we push messages to you). Social is a key component of building engagement via a two-way dialogue. PepsiCo has been somewhat of a pioneer in this space; a great example was Doritos Crash the Super Bowl, a campaign started in 2006 in which fans submitted commercials to be shown at the Super Bowl – it ran strong for around 10 years with huge success amongst consumers.
This dialogue has a few fundamentals: first and foremost, tangible value. Product quality – no brand can sustain its value without top quality – and physical attributes, in our industry’s case, stuff like a variety of flavours, textures, calories, pack sizes, formats, etc. Second: is intangible value, which I split in 2 sub-branches: essential and aspirational. Essential values are integrity, sustainability, transparency, the kind of ‘must have’ values of any good corporate citizen. The aspirational branch is where the dialogue becomes ever more important. It is what ‘old school’ branding framed as ‘what the brand wants to be known for’; however, in this day and age, it is less about ‘my brand’ and (way) more about what my brand means to you, personally!
Hence we must value every touchpoint in the relationship with each and every consumer. When we map this out, there are countless ways to actively engage rather than passively push out messages. We traditionally think of TV as the 30 sec spot people watch. Now with streaming and mobile, it could easily lead to other engagements with the brand, giving us the opportunity to know our consumer better. So we can create value to consumer with things like entertainment, connectivity, content that links to personal passions, and so on.
Here is where the dialogue becomes really interesting, especially when you look to a house of brands like PepsiCo, where each conversation will have a different flavour – pun intended