Consumer packaged goods companies routinely invest millions of dollars seeking to uncover and define universal human truths that will deeply connect consumers to their brands.
CPG researchers often apply advanced techniques from ethnography, psychology and other disciplines in their efforts to forge tighter bonds with the humans who buy their paper towels, soft drinks and beauty products. Focus groups, brand panels, online surveys and other forums are just some of the means by which CPGs identify these personal aspirations and deep consumer motivations. Indeed, the universal human truth has become something of a holy grail for brands — the type of insight that has the potential to unlock equity value, freshen up a stale brand or boost market share.
While universal human truths may be a great way to create emotionally relevant brands, they are based on subjective, observational understanding of consumer wants and needs, rather than objective, fact-based knowledge of consumer actions and behaviors. As consumers undertake their own unique journeys in engaging with brands, CPG marketers must seek the data-driven equivalent of that universal human truth – the comprehensive consumer profile.
The idea of using consumer-driven information to craft brand, product and messaging decisions is especially important for those CPGs looking to get closer to consumers as individuals. The development and use of comprehensive consumer profile is critical for establishing more direct relationships with their customers or for CPGs to define more relevant consumer segments. Further, the next wave of innovation in CPG requires such advancements in data-driven insights.
So how do CPGs create this comprehensive consumer profile?
To a large degree, such data-centric innovations are proxies for consumer-centric marketing innovation. Data should be a focus of investments in innovation. In fact, the collection of more and better data assets should be viewed as a foundation of innovation. Product and distribution-centric innovations must be evaluated in terms of their ability to generate more and better data that provides deeper and more actionable insights about consumers (who they are, how they behave, what they may buy in the future). And they reflect a shift away from only focusing on product-centric and channel-centric innovations.
The imperative in today’s environment is to get closer to the customer — and stay closer. Without the effective use of consumer data, CPG companies will struggle to increase consumer brand engagement and awareness in an increasingly saturated media landscape.
The true power, of course, is in the combination of universal human truths (which help brands define and differentiate themselves) with advanced data-driven and analytical marketing firepower (that can help brands more effectively engage consumers and monetize that engagement). In the future, CPG marketers will find themselves balancing state-of-the-art branding techniques with data science.