Amy Naughton, Client Services Director at Jaywing, takes us through the impact of COVID on FMCG brands.
As COVID restrictions lift and we cling to the hope that the roadmap to recovery will continue smoothly, attention in the industry continues to focus on what this means for marketers. Has the pandemic accelerated eCommerce forward five years permanently? Have digital behaviours changed the way shoppers purchase forever?
With Kantar data showing a spike of 15.4 per cent in the UK eCommerce sector as of 21 February, up from 8.7 per cent in 2020, the rise of eCommerce is fact, not theory. The increased demand for online shopping has been a necessity for many – securing a delivery slot (particularly back in Spring 2020) felt like you had hit the jackpot. On the flip side, for others, periods of isolation, the closure of retail stores and the need to balance life’s necessities and treats has driven a huge change in how we shop – and quickly. The acceleration of adoption in retired households who have boosted their online spend by a staggering 229 per cent compared with January 2020 (Fraser McKivett, Kantar, 2020), is just one statistic demonstrating that traditional barriers to online shopping are officially broken.
For brands within FMCG, this shift poses huge strategic decisions in how this affects marketing budgets. 2020 became the year of deploying a crisis management plan to enable brands to retain some levels of salience. While sales for many in the grab-and-go convenience space saw huge impacts to the bottom line, the return to “business as usual” plans are no longer viable. Confidence in spending will grow, and the wallet will undoubtedly become diluted across both online and offline worlds, but it’s unlikely that digital will see a retraction in its importance for marketers.
A truly omnichannel future
In a recent study by WARC, 67 per cent of client-side respondents agreed that eCommerce would be a permanent shift in their category. In addition to this, almost half the respondents cited that increasing the number of sales channels they operate within is key to addressing the shift to eCommerce.
This is reflective of the FMCG brands we work with at Jaywing. Media investment is shifting from channel focus to being based around consumer touchpoints and optimising moments. We are seeking out the most powerful interactions and the impact this has on both sales and brand metrics to optimise brand advantage.
What advice can we offer marketers looking to wrestle the next six months?
1. Spring clean your owned channels
Whether it’s directly addressing pain points within the on-site conversion journey or evaluating eCommerce pages within third parties with fresh eyes, take the time to step back. We’ve seen a surge in brands looking to improve customer experience within their owned and third-party channels. Whether that’s creating assets specifically optimised for eCommerce or a heuristic review and challenge to find 10 quick wins, devote the time to sweat the small stuff.
2. Run a fluid media investment model
Avoid getting locked into a “channel” mindset and shift towards a touchpoint mindset. Create a full digital view of what’s working for reach, visits, conversions and optimise to the tactics that are working. Push your team to be presenting holistic results overlaid into your conversion funnel to give true performance insight, not channel-siloed results.
3. Build out your direct-to-consumer relationship
As social distancing measures end, some audience segments may still be hesitant to visit public spaces, which means connections are only possible digitally. Continuing to invest in and build out well architected direct-to-consumer strategies is the way forward. It also poses many opportunities as a second revenue stream, even when true normality does return, enabling a faster go-to-market strategy, immediate enablement of a stimulating business supply and demand and, perhaps most importantly, owning your data and consumer relationship to fuel CRM.
Borrowing a great example of how this can work from across the pond, Babe wine successfully experimented with DTC by spotting social chatter that emphasised how much people needed a drink. The wine brand gave away $1 million worth of wine to tap into this universal feeling while also driving people to their webpage. The result? An eCommerce website that also serves as a community platform, raising the profile of both the brand and its products.
4. Social listening and monitoring
Social listening is crucial at a time of profound disruption to consumer habits, giving real-time insight into evolving customer needs and behaviours. Pay attention to how your brand is being talked about on social and stay tuned to the broader social conversation.
For brands wanting to take this to the next level, consider how you can utilise data to provide forecasting. Using data modelling based on government API’s, we are enabling clients to look at regional spikes in infection rates to assist with sales modelling, levelling out reporting and brand measures across a “spikey” 12-month period, and planning more efficient media geotargeting.
The acceleration of digital adoption has highlighted the inevitable need for FMCG brands to adapt to new channel integration trends, rapidly fix their shortcomings, and transform their online services to something more durable. Those who want to see long-term success must assess their omnichannel capabilities and develop a roadmap for the new and ever-changing situations over the coming months and beyond.