USING SOCIAL MEDIA TO MOVE PRODUCTS

How has the consumer packaged goods industry kept up with changing trends in the world of media? A 2011 article by Steven Rosenbaum, entitled “Teaching Brands New Tricks,” seeks to answer that question by examining the previous shortcomings of marketing and public relations 1.0 in the CPG industry. The article also offers strategy and common themes companies should take a look at when implementing their web 2.0 strategies. In the past, all a company needed to do in order to rake in revenue was spend the most money on traditional advertising spots and commercials. Today, a company needs to create a cohesive “brand” for each of its products and become a curator of their content.

According to Steve Addis, who is charge of brands such as Lego, Intel, and Smith & Hawkin, today’s brands need to develop a level of trust with their stakeholders that match the trust that one might give a friend. This is done through having a clear online presence and maintaining transparency in interactions. The business still needs a classic campaign and point of view to support, but needs to recognize the new concept of being “always on.” Anything on the internet can be saved, shared, “liked,” or screen captured these days.  Rosenbaum points out that the attention gained through social media exposure is an audience’s time, and “time is money.”

Rosenbaum provides the example of the coffee chain Starbucks. Starbucks has a clear “story” to their brand; it is easy to understand what the company is all about. The author mentions that Starbucks does not typically spend money on TV advertising or magazine spots. This is because the brand has become the media necessary to gain foot traffic to their stores every morning; signage, logos, and even the design of the stores themselves represent the Starbucks brand and narrative.

Businesses need to stress the importance of developing a dialogue around a brand, and creating content online that is tailored to this dialogue regardless of what platform is used.  The goal of a consumer packaged good presence online is to interact, providing content that allows for creative contribution to the company and even allows for input on future product development. The brand’s presence becomes a space for customers to absorb and share information.

The New York Times article, “Social Media Breathes Life Into Shelved Products” by Tatiana Boncompagni, does a nice job of demonstrating how an interactive dialogue between brand and consumer can drive product sales. Companies will often discontinue products that do not sell extremely well in stores; this is especially true of companies that sell beauty products. In many cases, the women who are loyal to these specific products will begin stock piling them or searching for them on offbeat online market places. By opening up dialogues through polls on Facebook, or responding to customer inquiries, brands such as Bobbi Brown or MAC cosmetics are now able to offer the most voted for “shelved” products for sale online. In addition, making the products only available online or through facebook integrated sales platforms drives potential customers to the web and to company websites.

While there are many companies in the consumer packaged goods industry still learning how to effectively use social media as a marketing platform, devoting key attention to brands and contributing to the online conversation will enable companies to build their presence in web 2.0 in a beneficial way.

-Jen Parravani

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~ by goodpackagedconsumers on September 23, 2012.