When Facebook pivoted hard toward pressing brands to take out paid advertising on the site a few years ago, one of the first verticals to be essentially left behind was CPG. But food and beverage brands have caught up big-time since then. Now there’s vast and continually growing dialogue between CPG brands and the 1.15-billion-member global community of consumers who use Facebook.
“CPG brands must make frequent lightweight interactions with the consumer to continuously remind her of what they stand for, what they are uniquely able to do, and what the brand stands for,” Erin Hunter, Facebook’s global head of consumer packaged goods, told CPGmatters.
“They’re distinct from, say, car manufacturers that need to reach consumers in a concentrated, focused period of time when they’re in the market for a car. Consumers are in the market for packaged goods their whole lives, and brands can reach them continuously. To reinforce their brand message, they should reach the right people, persistently, with their unique value proposition.”
Indeed, illustrations of CPG brands that leverage Facebook advertising, and of brands that do so in partnership with retailers as well, are beginning to abound. Anheuser-Busch, for instance, wanted to increase the reach and frequency of its most engaging Facebook-page posts for its Bud Light brand over a four-week period in December 2012 to increase brand preference among consumers ages 21 to 34, and drive sales.
Importantly, Bud Light ensured that the flavor of the Facebook campaign reflected the fun and witty personality of the brand: One highly engaging Facebook ad showed someone pouring a Bud Light from a smartphone. “This targeted campaign allowed us to identify and amplify our top content,” reported Lucas Herscovici, vice president of digital marketing for Anheuser-Busch.
Bud Light also worked with Datalogix, a database of supermarket consumers that matched consumer purchases with Facebook IDs in an anonymous way based on loyalty-card data, Herscovici recently told Advertising Age. “In today’s world on Facebook,” he said, “you need [paid] media in order to reach consumers at scale. We have 17 million fans across our brands, but we know when we post something in our pages we are not reaching all of our fans, we are only reaching a certain percentage of our fans because Facebook has algorithms that control that. So if you really want to reach a bigger audience, you need to put money behind it.”
So by advertising on Facebook, Anheuser-Busch saw a six-fold return on its advertising spending, according to Facebook, and a 3.3% sales lift among households that were exposed to the ads, versus a control group. Frequency averaged more than five times over the 28-day period.
The Bud Light campaign on Facebook reached 22.8 million U.S. households, representing about 20% of the U.S. population. And the “smartphone Bud” page realized an 18-fold increase in reach, to 16 million unique users after the post was distributed with Facebook media. It “tie[d] fan exposure of our [Facebook] ads to a notable uptick in offline Bud Light sales,” Herscovici said.
Similarly, Lysol used Facebook to drive awareness and sales of its newly launched Power and Free hydrogen-peroxide-based cleaner that Reckitt Benckiser had developed to clean as well as bleach does but was as safe to use as water. The product was more than four years in development when it was launched in mid-2012. Reckitt Benckiser wanted to use Facebook advertising to achieve massive scale, build brand equity and drive product sales among the target market of U.S. females 25 through 54 years old. It was one of the company’s biggest product launches in years.
Lysol’s strategy was to “recruit” moms on Facebook to serve as product evangelists to others. In a three-month campaign, Lysol first ran Facebook ads to gain new fans for its Facebook page, then focused largely on increasing the reach of its page posts, which centered on the safe and friendly aspects of Power and Free cleaning products. It posted colorful images of parents playing with their children and text such as, “Like if you love how Lysol Power and Free lets you clean without the harshness of bleach.”
The result? At the end of the campaign, Datalogix studied the ROI and determined that Reckitt Benckiser got a double return on its advertising spending, reached more than half of its target demographic (determined with 95% accuracy), proved three times more efficient at reaching that target than spending on TV, notched an 8-point increase in purchase consideration and a 7-point increase in brand awareness.
“This has suddenly step-changed the trajectory of the Lysol brand within the cleaner category,” said Laurent Faracci, Reckitt’s CMO. “Facebook is a key partner to help the company be better and more competitive overall. We stepped back and said, ‘Wow: We’re touching people now.’”
Facebook also is working directly with retailers in ways that optimize not only the online presence of the supermarket and discounter chains, but also of CPG brands that the chains advertise on the site. “We’re now at a tipping point in the way that technology and innovation helps us do promotion to the consumer and what retailers are doing with their own frequent-shopper info,” Hunter said.
“We have partners such as Kroger, Walmart and Target that are able to direct promotions to the right consumer to ensure that they’re getting their messages to the right people. That is going to significantly change the way manufacturers and grocers work together on promotions for the consumer, and you can see that in the types of things our best clients are doing with mobile news feeds.”
For example, Lysol Power and Free found that two target blocks of advertising on Facebook helped it reach about half of its target audience during the three-month campaign, mostly by using the site’s news feed to reach moms who check their mobile phones on the go. By the end of the campaign, more than 70% of impressions had been delivered via mobile news feed.
Indeed, every social medium must find its footing on mobile platforms these days. But Facebook initially struggled with that. Accessing Facebook during the process of shopping in brick-and-mortar stores also was relatively slow in coming, and some observers still would like to see Facebook help brands do a better job of reaching and influencing consumers via smartphones.
But now Facebook has more than 750 million mobile users. And Hunter maintained that even CPG-brand advertising on Facebook is garnering its share of activity from women when they’re out shopping.
“The latest statistics from eMarketer showed that people are accessing their Facebook news feed an average of 14 times a day,” she said. “It would be kind of surprising if Saturday-morning grocery shopping didn’t include some of that activity. Both men and women are influenced by their smartphones through the course of the day, and that’s an opportunity for CPG-brand marketers.”