Connecting with shoppers on their path to purchase in stores begins online more than ever for McCormick & Co, the global marketer of herbs, spices, and seasonings for the food industry.
The company is avidly using sophisticated digital tools to boost brand awareness and prompt sales for partners such as Wakefern Food Corporation, the largest retailer-owned cooperative in the U.S. and operator of 220 ShopRite stores in the northeast.
“Over the last five or six years, we went from 20% of purchase decisions being made before going to the store and 80% in store to today where it’s inverted. Eighty percent of the decisions are made before leaving the house. Consumers are connected,” said Jerry Wolfe, CIO and Vice President of Digital Commerce for McCormick
He outlined the company’s digital marketing strategy and tactics in a recent presentation at the annual Food Industry Summit, hosted by the food marketing department of St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. Joining him was Cheryl Williams, Vice President of Digital Commerce and Innovation at Wakefern Food Corp., operator of ShopRite stores.
Wolfe said digital retail tools increase basket size and total spend because shoppers today go online to find recipes and product information. For marketers and retailers, he added, “it’s about getting on the [shopping] list.” Since McCormick’s mission is to “save the world from boring food,” Wolfe said, the playbook is clear: Flavor gets you on the list, and digital usage increases flavor purchases.
That was the thinking that prompted the marketer to become the first CPG brand to deploy the Brand Activation Suite and Lightbox from MyWebGrocer (MWG), a provider of digital grocery solutions. MWG takes print-ready circulars and makes them digital for some 130 retailers. Mouse-over and one-click technology allows consumers to create their own shopping lists.
The Brand Activation Suite is a platform that connects consumers with local grocery products. The Lightbox ad units and landing pages can to be used in all digital tactics, including search, social media, email and mobile ad campaigns. The Lightbox enables consumers to click on any optimized ad and find a list of local products on sale. MWG completes the path to purchase from a keyword search, to an optimized landing page, to a retailer shopping list, to the final list of products at nearby stores. Brands can promote weekly sale items through this platform and drive traffic directly to a sale.
The Lightbox solution works with paid search as well as display media. By injecting weekly sale information into search ads, click-through rates reportedly have improved as much as 200%, while conversion rates are doubled.
“The Brand Activation Suite provides an efficient and highly relevant way for McCormick to reach customers nationally with flavorful food solutions while they are engaged in the path to purchase,” said Wolfe, not long after activating the solution for McCormick’s brands. “We’ve already seen double our normal consumer interaction with these ads and, more importantly, sales impact at the grocery shelf.”
In his presentation, Wolfe praised MyWebGrocer’s technology platform for its ability to drive digital connections between consumers, grocery retailers, and CPG brands. “What they do is provide the infrastructure to meet high-value consumers who are increasingly doing things such as looking at circulars online. Sitting behind many of the services that Wakefern provides is technology provided by MyWebGrocer.”
Williams of Wakefern was equally enthusiastic about the solution. “When a consumer comes to the ShopeRite web site and signs in, MyWebGrocer knows they have seen the ad, and here’s her loyalty card number.”
Wakefern is using digital advertising to convert shoppers at the “moment of truth,” she said. With a nod to her co-speaker, Williams added that the goal is to expose supermarket shoppers to McCormick products through online advertising.”
Wolfe said surveys show that about 72% of all meals are prepared at home, but three of four consumers (76%) are bored with their recipes. That’s because the average household in the U.S. uses nine recipes on a regular basis.
Those statistics prompted McCormick to work with MyWebGrocer to create a feature called FlavorPrint on the brand’s website. The service suggests how consumers can flavor their meals, while delivering personalized recipes using McCormick ingredients.
The website at McCormick.com invites consumers to sign up to find the flavors they will love. Simply list favorite foods and McCormick analyzes the flavors to create a unique FlavorPrint.
The explanation on the website reads: “All of our recipes and seasonings carry FlavorPrints, too. Now you’ll know right away which flavors to expect, plus we’ll match you with new dishes and flavors we know you’ll love.”
Wolfe said the FlavorPrint service delivers recipes “based on knowledge of consumer’s behavior and purchase history. It’s a total meal solution for the consumer and a win-win for our retail partners.
“If there was ever a time and place for retailers and manufacturers to harness insights and really make a difference with consumers, it is now,” he said.
The brand’s website has icons for several social media with Facebook and Pinterest being the ones that benefit McCormick the most. The latter is second to Google for driving consumers to McCormick.com for recipes and flavor ideas.