Brand building is concerned with generating awareness , establishing and promoting company using different strategies and tactics.
More and more Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) Companies are utilizing the social media channels for brand building activities. Social media is no longer just a fad. FMCGs have realized the potential benefits of using social media in their overall brand building strategies. FMCGs are usually advertised through mass media advertising channels with their potential to reach both the intended and unintended customer target. Running such mass media campaigns has 2 distinct disadvantages. They’re
- Mass Media advertisements are expensive to run
- Only one-way communication is possible since there is unidirectional flow of information
Such a scenario is not tenable in the ever changing customer expectations landscape. Customers today seek 2-way communication channels where they are able to share their expectations as well. With the introduction of internet, information is available in every nook and corner. Customers are now more aware and active. Companies should realize that it is highly important to “engage” with the customers as much as possible as soon as possible. The rate of distraction of customers has increased with time due to explosion of available sources of information.
Brand building is about engaging with customers, creating awareness through multiple platforms and hearing the customer expectations. This calls for a more personal level of engagement with customers. FMCGs want more and more loyal customers because they generate repeat business for them. The cost of acquisition of a new customer is much higher than a loyal customer. Therefore, the advertising is targeted towards existing or potential customers.
Traditional Approach of Advertising (Unidirectional Information Flow)
The traditional approach followed a top-down approach where during after the product development customer feedback or concept testing was initiated to gather information about the advertisements from a “small” pool of customers. Most advertisements were designed to persuade the customer to buy the company’s product by first getting the “attention” for the product and then “persuading” them to buy the product. But in this internet age it is no longer to follow this top down approach. Companies need to understand that customer engagement is now an important step towards creating awareness and then persuasion. No longer can companies expect to push whatever they want through the top-down approach to their existing & potential customers.
Why FMCGs Should Use Social Media ?
- Increase Exposure : Mass Media is not the only medium for exposure. It would be suicidal for FMCGs to totally shun the social media bandwagon and concentrate exclusively on the mass media advertising channels. This approach will be extremely expensive to maintain. Through social media engagement FMCGs ca target specific customers profiles as per their products, engage with them and also convert the fence sitters to paying customers. Social Media adds a personal touch to customer engagement.
- Increase Traffic : Information dissemination and sales can increase through Social Media interaction. This increase in traffic can result in more sales and revenue for the companies.
- Provide Market Insight : Social Media platforms are an ideal to provide market insights about the trends and expectations on the ground. Unlike traditional advertising where it takes time to gather the market insights. This delay is unacceptable in the fast changing market dynamics. Companies are expected to be highly responsive to needs and requirements on the ground and position/change their product offerings as per the market insights. A delay can give lead to the competitors and also make customers switch their loyalty.
- Develop Loyal Fans : A loyal fan base is any company’s dream. These fans act as brand ambassadors for the company, influence buying of fellow customers and give a company free PR publicity with minimum cost.
- Reduce Marketing Cost : Traditional marketing is expensive and lengthy. The need of the hour is targeted advertising to existing and potential customers rather than opting solely for mass media advertising. The customer acquisition cost through traditional advertising is much higher than through social media acquisition.
- Improved Sales: A direct impact is on the sales and revenues for the company. Studies have shown that customers engaged on social media take much faster buying decisions. Increased traffic to the social media platforms often results in a higher conversion rate in terms of sales.
Pepsi Refresh Project :
The Pepsi Refresh Project was launched in January 2010. Instead of advertsing in Superbowl, Pepsi decided to take the budgeted money ($1.3M) for running an online advertising campaign. This money was devoted for social causes such as sending care packages to soldiers or building a new playground.
- Each of the user proposals was voted on by visitors to the website and based on these votes, Pepsi picked a few winning submissions each month.
- Substantial Levels of social media activity followed this social media campaign
- 18 million unique visitors
- 80 million votes
- 150,000 Tweets
- 1,000 submissions
- No money on television advertising at all
- Very small advertising budget
- Entire promotional campaigns are created by its customers
- Includes television ads that are shown on YouTube
- Labels are sent in, are photographs sent in by its customers
- Using customer content to promote its product
- New digital marketing environment we are moving from managed messages designed to persuade to authentic messages designed to narrate or tell a story.
Therefore, as we can see that social media should be integrated into the marketing communication plan of any FMCG. Customer engagement should be a 2-way communication where customers expectations and needs are attended in real-time rather.