Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Coca-Cola Leverages New Process Called 'Shared Media' to Engage Shoppers

The Coca-Cola logo is an example of a widely-r...
Some CPG manufacturers and retailers are replacing traditional co-marketing methods with a new form of collaboration called “shared media.” The program calls for jointly developing a strategic approach to communicating with shoppers along path to purchase.

The ideal result: consumers have a better shopping experience, manufacturers boost their brands, and retailers increase traffic and conversion. 

This three-way win is what defines the successful leveraging of shared media, says Alison Lewis, Senior Vice President – Marketing, North America for Coca-Cola. Customization and collaboration have become critical pieces in the process, she added, and co-creation is the way to drive engagement.

Lewis and Jocelyn Wong, Chief Marketing Officer at Family Dollar, presented their experience with shared media in a keynote address at the recent Shopper Marketing Expo hosted by the Path to Purchase Institute and held at the Navy Pier in Chicago.

The trading partners built a promotion that would encourage its shoppers to pick up a beverage and snack for a “moment of happiness” with the family. 



“We want to provide value and enhance the brand,” Wong said. “The focus is on helping the family enjoy more happy times together, such as sharing some leisure time with a tasty snack and beverage.”

She said Family Dollar is a “trusted neighborhood store” that puts its customers on a pedestal and gives them more for less. “We need to connect emotionally with customers. We serve the under-served.”

Through custom research, Family Dollar learned that 40% of its shoppers have an annual income of $40,000 or less and 30% make less than $20,000 a year. Wong called these shoppers “tough and resilient” customers who want quality, but are focused mostly on convenience and price. “We identified gaps,” Wong said. “We need to empathize with our customers and know what they don’t know.”

Along the way, it has become strategically important for Family Dollar to leverage national brands, she noted. Customers are looking for quality brands and are concerned about freshness and code dates. They take pride in their home and seek ways to enhance the family’s happiness. To do so, they may wait for an item to go on sale. 

When Family Dollar decided to partner with Coca-Cola, it became important to gain a deeper understanding of the brand. Lewis explained that Coke is all about inspiring moments of happiness. The marketer is aware that its customers are social and looking for solutions. Word of mouth has always been a powerful influence. 

Coke worked with Family Dollar on ways to drive purchases of its products. The shared media process began with building a foundation based on assessments and shared insights. Both sides sought to fill each other’s knowledge gaps. They then developed a strategy to find that sweet spot to engage the shopper along the path to purchase. Lewis said they asked several questions: 
  • Who is the shopper?
  • What is important to her? 
  • What brand or occasion best fits? 

Both companies agreed it was important to ramp up the use of Twitter, radio and bus stop signage; texts to friends and family; and posts on Family Dollar’s Facebook page. In addition, deals could be presented in circulars, printed on receipts, flashed on digital signs at the shelf, and posted on the Family Dollar website.

More than 25% of Family Dollar shoppers take the bus, so advertising on bus shelters became a key part of the program. Brand messages were posted at the store entrance, and a custom rack was created to show value. 

“We wanted to help [the shopper] say, ‘Yes,’ to more moments of family happiness,” Lewis said. Also, the plan was to establish Family Dollar as a reliable destination for Coke and related products and make it easy for shoppers to grab a drink and a snack. 

Follow-up to the purchase was another important element of the campaign. After the shopping trip, the trading partners wanted to give shoppers a compelling reason to share their experience at Family Dollar. So, in-store receipts were used. Shoppers texted information from the receipt to learn about their reward for visiting Family Dollar.

The companies leveraged both Coca-Cola’s and Family Dollar’s Facebook pages to engage shoppers. Consumers were invited to have a say because the concept of voting is popular, Lewis said. 

“There are so many cross-functional groups within both organizations that must be aligned across and within,” Lewis explained. “Family Dollar and Coke both have profit and loss statements. How do they compare? What is in it for the shopper?”

Shopper measurements to determine how well the program was working included traffic, conversion, frequency of purchase, size of purchase and return on investment.

The executives agreed that shared media requires both trading partners to think and work differently, and then use a more disciplined process to connect with the shopper. They need to work closely to create a mutually beneficial environment and leverage connection points to conversion. 

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