It used to be that food companies could place some coupons in the local Sunday circular and run a series of TV spots in order to successfully launch a new product, boost waning sales on an established good, or promote general awareness of a product line. But with the public having shifted its attention away from print and TV ads and into the cybersphere, some producers have struggled to find new ways of engaging consumers and sharing their food innovation successes.
Kraft Foods isn't one of them. In 2013, having recognized that many shoppers were now using search engines to look for new products and deals, and using mobile and tablet-based apps to build and keep track of shopping lists, the corporate food giant made a concerted effort to increase its online presence as it launched its Fresh Take product line.
Kraft accordingly bumped up its digital marketing spend with Geometry Global— a digital engagement promotion company— and partnered with a large, national grocer to produce a co-branded engagement campaign designed to reach out directly to loyal customers of the partner grocery chain. This was mutually beneficial, in that Kraft offered deals that spurred shoppers to go to the store, and Kraft was given priority ad visibility among the grocer's already-activated consumer base.
Driving Down Cost-per-Engagement (CPE) and Increasing Return-on-Investment (ROI)
One way Kraft maximized its digital spend was to undertake a digital marketing campaign in which the food brand only paid Geometry when customers actually engaged with an online ad. That provided a powerful incentive for Geometry to come up with effective, creative ways of encouraging consumers to engage.
Accordingly, the campaign resulted in more than 20 million online impressions (i.e., delivered views) and 600,000-plus engagements (positive consumer actions)— a healthy 2.9% engagement rate— over a six week period. So how did Geometry and Kraft accomplish this? They relied on light box ads.
Light boxes are small pop-ups that become larger when a viewer moves his or her computer mouse over the ad. The viewer can then view and even take specific actions, as directed within the light box, without having to click away from the original page. Light boxes can deliver videos, games and other fun, interactive content.
Some Kraft light box ads delivered coupons. Others called viewers' attention to grocery store stops to be made by Kraft's Fresh Take food truck, where samples were distributed directly to consumers. Still others showed recipes that tied in with Fresh Take products.
The result? Kraft achieved an impressive CPE of 14 cents— relatively low for a campaign that generated so many hits.
Segmenting the Segment
Kraft's target consumer for Fresh Take was busy, on-the-go women who need quick-prep options for feeding their families. But not every busy mom is the same. Some moms, Kraft knew from its market research, are tech-savvy. Some are stay-at-home mothers; others work. Some cook only on the weekends. Some cook not only to feed their families, but as a hobby.
Kraft recognized these differences and produced different content, tailored to reach out to those various sub-segments. Given the strong engagement rate they realized throughout the campaign, this approach seems to have been highly successful. The lesson for other food companies? There's no such thing as too much consumer research.
Know Your Consumer Backwards and Forwards
If you're not speaking directly to your consumers' interests, your content is getting lost. There's simply too much going on in the cybersphere— your consumers have too much to look at and too many places to visit. You can't market in broad strokes any more.
As Kraft demonstrated, it's worth the spend to get to know your core consumers before you concept. And your concepts should be driven by those audience findings. Your messaging must trigger the motivators for your targeted consumer segments and sub-segments.
Food innovation doesn't take place strictly in the lab, on the farm, or on the production line. Food innovation also takes place in marketing research. Learning more about your customers' wants and needs will help you to better direct your product development. It will force you to get creative. And it will improve your sales results.