3 Ways Social Listening Can Help CPG Companies Build a Better Brand

In the past, CPG companies marketed directly to mass retailers like Target or Walmart. Today, these brands are faced with stronger competition, more connected consumers, and a fragmented customer journey. To counter this, CPG brands like NYX or Procter & Gamble have changed their market trajectory, and more than ever before, they’re going direct-to-consumer. This strategy has created the need to collect and analyze data on their new buyer—the consumers themselves.

With over 4 billion active users per month, social media channels provide the largest set of unique consumer data. The increase in direct-to-consumer marketing means that the CPG industry’s traditional retail audience has shifted to a consumer base that has their fingertips on social. As a result, CPG brands must develop and maintain a social presence that is memorable, stands out from the noise, and builds trust with their audience. With social listening—the act of analyzing and strategizing around the information collected on social—CPG brand marketers can exceed these growing consumer demands. As a brand marketer adept in social listening, you can gather insights into your products, your brand’s influencers, and the values that your audience cares about.

Gather Valuable Product Insight

In the mid-1980's, Coca-Cola spent millions developing a new recipe for their signature product. After 99 years, they revealed for the first time an updated version of the Coca-Cola beverage, which they called "New Coke." The result? Backlash from their loyal customers.

Coca-Cola learned a hard lesson from this debacle—that market research is a vital step in product development. This mistake paved the future of market research, which began as focus groups, but has now evolved into social listening. Had social media existed in the 80s, Coca-Cola could have tested their audience on the new recipe and potentially avoided the flub.

To build a valuable brand, it is critical to listen to your audience. Social listening reveals sentiment and insights from your consumer base at a scale that you can’t generate from any other medium.

To build a valuable brand, it is critical to listen to your audience.

 

Coca-Cola is not the only company who has struggled with releasing new products. In fact, most product launches fail. Often, consumers can’t grasp how to use the new product, there isn’t a market for it, or there aren’t clear differentiators from an established product. How can you increase your chances of success? Through social listening. Pay attention to brand mentions and consumer sentiment towards your brand perception and your current products. If your product is falling short on its claims or if it requires more consumer education, you’ll hear that online. With that knowledge, you can consider altering the current product to the meet the needs of your audience—or you can provide additional resources for an educational campaign.

Identify Top Influencers and Brand Advocates

2017 is predicted to be the biggest year in influencer marketing yet. With 47% of consumers using ad blockers, direct-to-consumer brand awareness can be built through the use of social influencers—people who your consumers trust and follow. Social listening allows you to identify the influential people who already love your brand and your products.

Luckily for the CPG industry, influencer marketing is really effective. The chart below from eMarketer displays the earned value of US influencer marketing campaigns, with CPG food nabbing the top spot.

Influencers “produce inspiring and highly shareable content when they’re allowed to insert their creativity," noted Holly Pavlika, the Senior VP of Marketing & Content at Collective Bias. Consumers are more likely to follow and engage with influencers who they know and trust than they are to follow and engage with brands. Using influencers helps boost conversation and engagement with your brand on social in a context that feels more organic to consumers. As a result, you will maximize brand awareness, boost brand perception, and ultimately impact bottom line.

Understand the Values Your Audience Cares About

A teacher walks into an Office Max and realize she needs to refill her supply of sticky notes. She’s faced with seemingly identical products from two different brands at relatively the same price. What makes her choose one brand over the other? More than any other factor, her perception of each brand will drive her quick, low-cost decision. Brand perception is influenced by many facets, including your brand values. Consumers want to see reflected in your brand the values that they care about as well.

Consumers want to see reflected in your brand the values that they care about as well.

 

Social listening is a powerful practice that can be used to identify and address the principles that your audience cares about. As long as the values that you reflect are authentic to your brand, your audience is more likely to buy your products, advocate for you, and be loyal consumers.

For instance, 3M used social listening to learn that their consumers care about sourcing paper for Post-its and Scotch tape from more sustainable places. Part of their brand mission is to improve lives through sustainability. 3M changed their paper supplier and in turn, bolstered a loyal fan base.

Social is the biggest focus group in history and some of the best market research your brand can find. By combining social listening with action, you’ll make your brand more memorable, unique, and trustworthy—all of which will help drive revenue.

As the customer journey moves online, Spredfast’s platform makes social listening easy so that you can drive these direct-to-consumer experiences in your digital and social marketing.

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Rachel Jamail leads the brand marketing team at Spredfast. Find her on Twitter for a random assortment of thoughts on marketing, yoga, books, and her two favorite (yet very different) football teams - the Texas Longhorns and the Harvard Crimson.