As sponsors of the inaugural run of the Groceryshop Conference, we had the opportunity to mingle with some of the world’s great brands, as well as some of the other innovative start-ups and service providers helping them win in aisles and digital shopping carts all over the world. Suffice it to say, we took in as much insight, CPG enthusiasm, and snack food as we could. We also managed to pluck a few themes from the whirlwind.
The shopping cart of the future is digital
But everyone knew that already.
This just in: the world’s biggest online grocery markets will grow by US$227 billion in the next five years (according to a new study by IGD). But if Amazon Pantry (not to mention the Whole Foods acquisition) didn’t tip us off to the fact that CPG and ecommerce were about to get a lot cozier, than we probably deserve to be left in the digital shopping cart’s dust.
Converged data will drive business
But it's elusive.
We had some fascinating conversations with other data providers about the power of commerged datasets. (What happens when you marry product ingredient data with Amazon keyword data? What happens when you cross brick and mortar coupon data with online shopper behavior?) The ultimate goal of converged intelligence is to understand customer intention and action in as many facets of the customer’s daily journeys as possible. But easier said than done. The major data divides — between offline and online, between implicit preferences and actual purchase behaviors, between a Facebook ad impression and an Amazon purchase — are still unresolved. Nevertheless, we see huge opportunity to forge new partnerships and connect the disconnected in our continuing quest to John Malkovich our way inside the minds of our consumers.
Prediction > Retrospection
But it takes converged data.
Increasingly, we’re understanding which aspects of customer behavior serve as harbingers of future behavior. By itself, a page view does not tell us much about the mindset of a customer. But when combined with other sources of intel and insight (like search behavior, digital journey mapping, product detail page analytics — and someday, reliable offline attribution — we can learn a lot about the implicit interests and intent of our customers. What do they search? What do they click on? How far through the purchase journey do they take the product? Where do they drop off? Stitched together, those insights have predictive power as well as explanatory power: we know what our customers are looking for, and we know when they have and have not found the answer to their need. Based on that data, we can deduce what we (as manufacturers, advertisers, and business builders) might need to create next to satisfy their future intent. ...And we thought Magic 8 Balls were cool.
Strategic branding creates differentiation
But only if all of your content pays it off.
It’s not enough to have pitch-perfect packaging, a spiffy brand identity, and some hard-hitting value props that pay off the specialness of your ingredient profile. Besides convenience for your customer, one of the more powerful attributes of ecommerce is the richness of the path to purchase — a major topic of conversation for brands and content specialists at Groceryshop this year. With the ecommerce channel, brands have the ability to drive a customer through a purchase journey that is almost wholly curated. If the search results page is the equivalent of the in-store grocery aisle, where your customer is shown a variety of brands from which to choose, then your product detail page is the equivalent of your customer picking up your package. At that point, they’re in your world, reading your value props, evaluating your brand identity, and stewing on your ingredient profile. The difference between your brand’s opportunity when they pick up your packaging in-store and your brand’s opportunity at the digital shelf? The potential to immerse. Not only is the product detail page the right venue to back up and expand on your claims, with A+ Content on Amazon you have the opportunity to promote a vision of how your brand fits into the lives of your customers, functionally and emotionally, through rich content delivered right at point-of-sale. But building this expanded content is as much a science as an art. Brands need to connect with customers on the basis of shared mindsets, value systems, and language (i.e., keywords) — all of which are knowable given the right data.