Tuesday, March 19, 2013

ConAgra Scores by Understanding Shoppers' New Media Habits

English: Old ConAgra Foods Logo from, used unt...

All grocery shoppers are not created equal, especially when it comes to their digital habits. 

ConAgra Foods learned the differences by studying how shoppers are using social, mobile and online media. As part of the process, the marketer of such iconic brands as Healthy Choice, Hebrew National, Egg Beaters, and others relied on a panel of shoppers segmented by their use of digital media and the behavior of each group. ConAgra incorporated those insights into its retailer-specific shopper marketing programs that increased sales for both trading partners. 

“It’s all about how to connect with those consumers at a time that can impact their shopping and in a way they feel comfortable with,” explained Liz Mohr, the company’s Director of Shopper Insights, who said the work is part of an 18-month-old initiative called Customer Connect that aims to drive profitable growth for ConAgra and its retail partners.

She made these comments in a recent presentation at the annual Food Industry Summit hosted by the food marketing department of St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. Joining her was Srishti Gupta, Executive Vice President & GM of New Media Solutions and Testing, SymphonyIRI Group.

When Customer Connect got underway, ConAgra reached out to SymphonyIRI Group, which was putting together a panel of shoppers segmented by their digital habits. The panel consisted of more than 5,000 households. It became the springboard for ConAgra to collaborate with retailers in shopper marketing programs. 

ConAgra was enthusiastic about the research because it would help them answer some critical questions: 
  • How are people engaging digitally, not just in their everyday lives, but when shopping for groceries?  
  • What kinds of conversations are shoppers willing to have with their stores and brands? 
  • How important to the decision-making process were consumer blogs, online reviews, and research on brand and channel websites?  

Mohr said that understanding how shoppers interact with the digital space would allow ConAgra to communicate the right message at the right time and in the right place. 

The research found that three key values are on top of the consumer’s mind: time, efficiency and value. When engaging with shoppers digitally, it is essential to deliver on one or more of these values. The food maker also discovered varying degrees of comfort, familiarity and eagerness to use various digital levers available to them.  

Here are the five segments of digital shoppers:   

Technophobes: They are old-fashioned and self-sufficient in how they want to shop, and they don’t want to learn a whole new way of doing things. “They’re not totally engaged,” said Mohr, “so you need to think about how you are talking with them and where.” 

Socializers: They use the Internet as their primary method of communication. They are little more open to digital, but they are still using a paper list in stores. “They love the social aspect of being online,” she said. 

Wired for Work: They have the cool gadgets. They’ll use their smartphones and tablets from home and they might find recipes and coupons online. 

Show Me the Money: They shop, look for deals, and compare prices online, but they are less involved with social networking. Smartphones are under-utilized in this segment, but they might use them in the store for shopping lists. 

Digitize Me: They never leave home without their smartphone. They are highly involved in social networks. They use online coupons and digital promotions.

“Each of these segments over-index in certain stores,” said Mohr. “For example, Target, Kroger, and Safeway have the largest presence of Digitize Me households that are the most digitally savvy.”

From the segmentation research, ConAgra determined the top three digital behaviors: 
  • Downloading coupons
  • Researching recipes
  • Researching product information.

All these behaviors deliver on the shopper’s desire for time, efficiency and value, according to the analysis. ConAgra takes into account its overall strategy and the retailer’s digital capabilities to deliver on those three shopper values powerfully enough to change behavior. The key is to understand how each segment interacts in the digital world. 

The marketer incorporates this understanding into its shopper marketing programs conducted with grocery retailers. For example, HEB and ConAgra partnered with 10 Texas bloggers during last year’s back-to-school season for the third annual Meal Maker Challenge. In the four-week program, each blogger came up with quick and easy meal ideas using a featured ConAgra ingredient. HEB customers voted on their favorite family-friendly recipes, and the two bloggers with the most votes faced off in a final cooking challenge. The program included email blasts, a unique website, Facebook, and in-store elements such as demos. 


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