Guiding CPG Consumers to Your Product at Grocery

shelves, grocery, CPG, food, marketing, brand, friction
For consumers shopping for CPG requires a GPS.

We spend a lot of time identifying and eliminating points of friction for our clients. We’ve written and spoken about it often. To catch you up, the mobile internet has trained us all that any product or service should be one tap away, or fewer. When we encounter a needlessly complex user flow, we leave and search for an easier way to accomplish our desired task. Leading this trend is the millennial segment (called the Children of Uber in a post by the smart people at Made by Many) obviously because they grew up with the internet and came of age with smartphones.

This is an extreme challenge for any brand using software to provide services directly to their customers. One bad experience and they never come back. Until the next solution fails.

Now imagine you don’t have a direct connection to your customer. They don’t rely on your interface for access to your products or services. In this case, you don’t even get the chance to drop the ball. Someone else does that for you. And in many cases, they don’t feel too bad about it.

For many brands in the consumer packaged goods space, this is the harsh reality. When someone visits a grocery store looking for a particular product, there is no one there to represent the brand. Besides the shelf dominating flagship product of companies like Frito-Lay, friction on the shelf is common and difficult to avoid.

In our recent survey of Millennial grocery shoppers across the country, 83% said they were open to changing brands of just about any product on their grocery list.

And 64% of those respondents said they weren’t sure they’d come back to their original brand once they switched.

For brands offering an interface as customer service – or as the product itself – friction related challenges are difficult. We’ve seen cases of pretty mild bumps in the customer software process causing brand erosion. But for a brand that lives and dies on the shelf, it is vastly misunderstood.

Friction at the Grocery Store

Consider a brand of beans. You plan to make a meal. You know you need the item on your list, “Beans.” In your mind that is a specific brand of beans, in a specific size. You stop at a grocery store on your way home from work, not your usual store. This is not the brand’s fault. The store layout is different, so you travel the length of the store and back to find the correct aisle. Not the brand’s fault.

After two minutes of scanning the shelves, you track down an employee to ask for help. He doesn’t know. “Just whatever’s on the shelf,” he says politely and helps you find something similar. It’s a different size and variety, but it is the right brand. Now you’re totally confused. You’re doing math. Consumers doing math while holding a product is never good for sales. You choose an alternative product. At checkout, the friendly employee tells you the brand you want is on a special display near produce if you want to run and grab them. Too late. You’ve moved on.

There are marketing, production, purchasing and distribution causes for every hiccup presented above. But from the consumer perspective, who cares? You have groceries to buy and meals to make.

On the internet, and even more so in the mobile space, we’ve created paths that are very difficult not to find for someone who is searching. The internet has essentially become a sieve for filtering people to completion of the information they seek, and in many cases a credit card form.

Spending entire days on the internet has trained us to be highly sensitive to breaks in these paths. And every few days, we get off the internet to perform a physical task like grocery shopping. We’re often shocked by the disruptions in our path to complete these tasks. And when we encounter even real-world disruptions, we’ve been trained to look for a back button.

Reaching Millennials to Improve Restaurant Traffic Growth and Loyalty

couple, dining, restaurant, deli case
Today, people have more choices than meal occasions. How do they choose?

Our recent national study on millennials and the dining decision provided some truly insightful takeaways:

  • Genuine customer loyalty and maximizing in-store opportunity are imperative to a brand’s short- and long-term success with this demographic.
  • Growing up with technology always within easy reach, millennials tend to view the world as “me-centric.” They’re accustomed to experiences built for specifically for them. Tweaking your customer interaction and marketing to cater to this mindset can pay big dividends.
  • Given the ever-increasing purchase power of Gen Y, a strong millennial customer base presents not just a challenge, but an exciting opportunity to reverse the no-growth trend. The key is to examine your tactics now, and change them if necessary to get ahead of the curve. Gain their trust and hold on tight.

Do you have your customers’ loyalty? We’re not talking about formalized loyalty programs here, but the genuine support and allegiance of your patrons. In the age of the millennial, loyalty is critical to growth in a no-growth category.

If you’re not sure you have their loyalty yet, consider a few ways you can earn it:

Experience and insights.

This may go without saying, but it’s imperative to provide the optimal experience for customers on every visit and to use every interaction to gain insights – insights you can use to surpass their expectations next time. Make each visit personal and meaningful, and while you’re at it, observe and listen. Watch how they interact with the physical restaurant and the staff, and when they have suggestions or criticisms, take them to heart.

Download the presentation of our national Millennial dinging study: Dining’s L-Shaped Change.

Flexibility

Ask yourself, is the restaurant flexible? Is the staff accommodating? Do you allow customizations to menu items? Will you split the check for large groups? Identify and remove all stopping points for the customer, to make the experience frictionless.

Marketing and operations fluidity

Use each visit to encourage more visits. In-store promotions and creative loyalty programs should be fresh, engaging and create value. Also, consider carefully how your operations and marketing teams are working together. Are they both on the same page? Are front-line personnel aware of promotions so they can inform the customer? Do your marketing plans offer creative ways for employees to deliver meaningful, shareable, frictionless visits? If it’s been a while since you evaluated your marketing tactics, there’s no better time than now.

The early bird gets the millennial

Our research showed that nearly 70% of millennials make the decision to dine at home or dine out in less than six hours. With such a limited timeframe, you must be opportunistic and work to create craving during the decision window. Mind the gap, and make it count.

Showcase your food

Create effective, drool-worthy imagery and entertaining messaging to draw in customers. Is your food indulgent? Embrace it! Show it off with an Instagram post or a tweet. Millennials are in touch with their guilty dining (and social media) pleasures. Don’t just “show the food” – show it off. Nowadays, two taps on Instagram tends to be the currency of the industry.

If your audience doesn’t come to you, go to them

Hit your customer during their decision-making process by utilizing media dayparting and geo-based targeting. Be there when it counts. Take full advantage of the efficiency and flexibility of the same digital tools millennials are already using.

It’s important not to look at Gen Y as an elusive unicorn. Get their attention (and dollars) by capitalizing on loyalty and opportunity. By taking these steps, you can develop high relative awareness for your restaurant. If you build (on) it, they will come.