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Conquering the Four Major Challenges Facing CPG Marketers Today

Valued at nearly $11.5 billion globally in 2021 — and predicted to hit nearly $19 billion by 2031 — the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry saw its omnichannel sales grow by 8.4% in 2022. Of course, the industry deals in essentials that most everyone needs to replenish often and that tend to fly off the shelves quickly, representing ample opportunity for big revenues for brands that can stand out from the crowd.

But the industry is also highly sensitive to constantly evolving consumer demands and perceptions, which can present significant hurdles to success — and which make having a solid CPG marketing strategy critically important.

Looking to ensure that your CPG brand lands in more consumers’ carts? Consider these four top CPG marketing challenges and how to overcome them:

1. Understanding the market

Marketers are often reluctant to spend money on research. In some cases, this can be attributed to having been burned in the past by high-dollar research that didn’t yield useful results — especially considering the price. But research doesn’t have to be elaborate, complicated or expensive to be highly valuable.

Understanding your category will help you find white space and opportunities.  Knowing your customers at a deeper level will help you craft your message and discover the best time and place to connect with them. Most of us have had that experience of talking to a customer and immediately getting inspired. It probably fired you up and made you excited to get back to work.

In this modern era of digital marketing, you can measure the ROI of many of your marketing efforts with a level of precision that simply couldn’t be matched before. Investing to get a 6:1 return is a no-brainer. It makes you feel smart and shows that you’re being efficient with your budget — and it looks great on your next presentation.

But here at Brandon, we challenge you to think of research in these terms: Well-done research can be a 1,000:1 multiplier. One incredible insight can literally change your business. Stop panning in the creek. Instead, find a way to carve out some research budget and start mining some real gold.

2. Breaking through the clutter

Research and understanding of your audience will help you craft the right message that will connect with prospects and better communicate your positioning. To generate more demand for your brand’s offerings, leverage brand awareness ads — and recognize that video is more impactful than other types of ads. (In fact, research shows that two-thirds of consumers consider short-form videos social media’s most engaging form of content.) Further, strive to make an emotional connection with consumers in your brand’s messaging, as this proves to be more memorable — the real point of awareness.

Your research should help you understand where your customers are … and where you can reach them. Social media may be an obvious and budget-friendly choice, but look for other opportunities, too. If your target consumers love music and events, maybe you can look into sponsoring a music festival, a smaller-scale musical event or simply place ads on their streaming music feeds.

Ideally, your messaging will also reach your prospects at an appropriate moment, where it makes sense. If you have a solution to reduce single-use plastics, maybe your ads could be on trash cans at national, state or community parks, where the cans are likely to be filled with plastic water bottles. Using the results of your research, put some thought into your consumers and what they enjoy doing, them meet them there with the right messaging so you can stand out from the competition.

3. Measuring advertising effectiveness

Marketing is often about the new and shiny — and this can often be a trap that’s easy to fall into. “The metaverse? Should we be there? Are we late?” Nah. If you missed that one, you’re probably fine.

Some younger marketers don’t remember the world before digital marketing, when brands and marketers couldn’t measure the effectiveness of every tactic and couldn’t leverage troves of data to get a better picture of what’s working and what’s not.

Over the long term, we’ve seen many marketers overcorrect and overfund these measurable tactics, chasing the promise of a high return on ad spend (ROAS). And why not? Your boss, and maybe your boss’s boss, too, loves seeing exactly what they’re getting for the dollars they spend on advertising. If you can show them positive returns, even the CFO can’t argue with that. But what about brand awareness (or demand creation)? It was the only game in town for decades, and there was no question that it worked. Does it still work? Of course it does …

There are groups dedicated to the study of advertising effectiveness. They’ve studied thousands of campaigns using complex, expensive econometrics and marketing mix modeling techniques. And guess what they consistently find? They find that awareness and demand generation advertising are the real workhorses of your budget. Conversion ads or paid search ads may get all the last-click attribution glory, distorting the appearance of what’s actually working. But they’re often just used as quick navigation to your brand’s website after those other ads did all the heavy lifting. Go ahead and Google “Advertising Effectiveness.” Arm yourself for your next budget meeting. You’ll probably need to educate those who are skeptical (and who often control the purse strings).

4. Achieving brand loyalty

When social media first came on the scene, marketers were quick to jump on the bandwagon and were eager to promote their products and push out their messaging. Many are still doing this, overlooking the fact that social media is an incredible way to engage directly with customers, whether they be super fans, complainers or people seeking assistance.

So, even while the American Customer Satisfaction Index (a barometer of consumer contentment) has been in steady decline since 2018, marketers continue to put their social media focus on follower counts and engagement metrics. They get caught up trying to game the algorithms and make counter-intuitive choices, like posting multiple times a day, or using gimmicks for the sole purpose of earning clicks. This has led them even further from the real opportunity to connect with their customers and prospects on a more personal level.

Instead of focusing on numbers, marketers should focus on creating real connections. They should be responsive to customer comments and concerns. There is no “right” way to do social media, but you can start by having a dialogue with your followers, and understanding what they want from you. By doing so, you can build relationships with customers and create a social media presence that is both informative and engaging — and foster more brand loyalty.

Elevate your CPG marketing efforts with Brandon

Could your CPG brand use the help of a team of marketing professionals to create more awareness of, interest in and demand for your products? At Brandon, our team of certified brand strategists and data-driven marketing professionals has worked with an array of CPG brands in a broad range of categories — and has consistently helped put their products in more consumers’ carts.

In addition, Brandon’s fully integrated marketing firm can cover the entire spectrum of your brand’s marketing needs, from SEO, social media and email marketing to e-commerce, digital marketing, media, creative, analytics, public relations, brand strategy, web design and more. To get started with help ranging from a simple website analysis to a comprehensive strategy tailored to boost the performance of all your marketing campaigns, contact us today.


Cary Murphy

Chief Strategy Officer

Cary Murphy is our Chief Strategy Officer at Brandon. He has been in marketing for over 30 years, starting his own agency from scratch and growing it into a market leader. He sold his agency to Brandon in 2016 and joined their leadership team, bringing his expertise to a wider audience. He’s also our category leader for B2B and CPG, working with clients such as Nucor Steel, Wastequip, Green Giant, Idahoan Foods, and Victory Beer. He helps clients create brand stories and strategies that increase sales, boost customer loyalty, and generate media coverage. He doesn’t settle for the status quo or conventional wisdom. He finds hidden connections and patterns and turns them into compelling narratives that resonate with customers. Cary is a smart and inspiring leader who challenges and supports his peers to do their best work. He believes that discipline is more important than motivation, and that good habits are more powerful than goals. Cary is a leader who combines talent, experience, and passion, with something else. A skill that he learned and honed over decades of practice and experimentation. A skill that helps him uncover the remarkable in both people and products.

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