Thursday, March 15, 2012

CPG Websites Turn Visitors into Brand Buyers

There's good news for CPG companies who've been shifting their promotional dollars from print ads, FSIs, direct mail, and other traditional media to online media. A new study suggests they should keep doing it.
A trio of lower-case branded research consultancies — accenture, comScore, and dunnhumbyUSA — have teamed up on a research study to answer the question, "Are your CPG brands maximizing the return on your digital investment?"
What they discovered was compelling: a direct correlation between CPG brand website usage and in-store purchase behavior. The study was based on an integrated panel of one million U.S. Internet users who gave comScore explicit permission to have their online activities continuously measured and matched to their in-store brand buying behavior provided by dunnhumbyUSA.
The research was designed to accomplish three specific objectives:

1. Quantify the retail sales value of the visitors to various brand websites

2. Identify the most valuable features and content that can be provided on CPG brand websites

3. Provide insights and opportunities to further explore online destinations where Internet marketers can best reach their brand buyers and prospects.

The study revealed the following:
- Visitors to CPG brand websites spend 37 percent more than non-visitors on the brand in retail stores.
CPG brand website visitors on average spend $2.86 per household in monthly brand dollars, vs. $2.14 for non-website visitors, a difference of 72 cents. On an indexed basis, website visitors purchase 48 percent more units of the brand. According to the study, "CPG website visitors were highly engaged, valuable customers and frequent purchasers of the brand. They spend more on the brand in retail stores, purchase more units and have more brand purchase occasions than non-visitors."

• Brand website visitors are heavier buyers within a brand's product category, spending 53 percent more than non-visitors on the category in retail stores.
"Engagement with the brand does not translate to exclusivity," says the report, because brand website visitors are more likely to be heavy buyers in the product category than non-visitors. Interestingly, website visitors actually pay 8 percent less per unit than non-visitors; this is likely due to the fact that visitors are downloading coupons.

• Brand website visitors demonstrate significant engagement in particular online areas.
The strongest "Intensity Index" exhibited by brand website visitors was for the Beauty/Fashion/Style website category. Brand website visitors also showed strong interest in Family/Parenting Community websites, with an emphasis on the Food Community category. Brand website visitors were also very active in content-rich categories (News, Portals, Weather) and exhibited significant interest in the Politics site category. Brand website visitors were "relatively experienced users of the web," according to the study.

• CPG brand websites have room for improvement.
The most important website features include compelling brand value messaging, frequent content updates, and content that engages visitors. The study determined that "a compelling online brand experience is enabling a few companies to be extremely effective in generating incremental and profitable sales in the store." Consumers visiting the best of the ten CPG brand websites evaluated in the study spent over 200 percent more on the brand than non-visitors. However, it appears that not enough consumers visit CPG brand websites. Over half of the top 25 CPG brands, defined by household buyer penetration, average less than 100,000 unique visitors to their brand website per month. As a point of reference, two of the top brands get more than 300,000 visitors. The study concludes that "most CPG companies are missing the opportunity to influence brand engagement and brand buying behavior on their brand websites."

According to the study, "Online CPG brand experience influences between 1 percent to as much as 35 percent of a brand's total USA in-store sales," so CPG companies need to better understand how to maximize the potential of their websites.

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