It’s shaping up to be another shiny and bright shopping season. A recent Gallup poll indicates that Americans will spend an average of $752 on gifts this holiday season, while Deloitte’s 2016 Holiday Survey reports that those holiday dollars will yield an average of 14 gifts per shopper. The survey also shows that intended holiday spending on health and beauty aids and cosmetics and fragrances continues to climb. Candy and food purchases should also see an uptick, according to The National Retail Federation. After this flurry of activity, how many shoppers will come back to your brand? In the last few 2017 planning meetings, I have heard several times long-term customer loyalty and engagement were a 2016 challenge and will continue to be an uphill battle in the upcoming year.
The holiday season is an auspicious time for marketers to encourage fans to share their experience about gifts shopped for and received. But this is no small task for CPG brands, which often lack a direct connection to the people purchasing or receiving their products. These marketers sometimes miss out on the opportunity to turn delight into ongoing engagement and loyalty. Retail barriers and interference from other third parties make it hard to connect and foster a direct relationship. So the question remains: How can CPG brands better engage consumers to establish and foster loyalty over the long term?
1. Rent-to-Own Word-of-Mouth Promoters
Eight out of ten consumers say that a recommendation from a friend or family member is the most trusted form of advertising; along with that the lifetime value of a referred customer is 25% higher than that of other customers. It’s no surprise that peer-to-peer experience sharing via influencer and advocacy marketing is a must-have to drive engagement and long-term interaction. Even CPG marketers who have a hazy idea of who their most loyal users are can still benefit from the power of influencers. Marketers can enlist and deploy influencers-for-hire, but CPG marketers especially should be looking for ways to build an owned army of advocates to inspire others to connect with the brand.
2.Provide a Soapbox for Fan Opinion
CPG brands should set a goal to establish a “home” where consumers can share their experience, both the good and not so good. People today are looking to connect authentically and transparently with brands, whether to provide an in-use review or feedback on how to improve the brand experience. Consumers who see brands using their input become more loyal and willing to engage. This goodwill is compounded when they’re given credit for constructive input and ideas. Lays Potato Chips’ Do Us a Flavor is an example of a successful program that gets consumers involved in product ideation, as does Mike’s Hard Lemonade, which additionally welcomes artwork to be featured on packaging.
3. Repurpose UGC Content Heavily and Often
People have quickly become enthusiastic voluntary content producers. Their personal, authentic stories are exactly what their peers trust and seek, real people using real products in real life. CPG brands looking to collect this content can begin by establishing a carefully planned connection with customers. Reward consumer content generators with a branded destination where their creations are showcased and shared — like a gallery for top Instagram photos or a dedicated site for product use ideas. A great example of this is Kraft Recipes, a site launched for home cooks to share their own culinary creations featuring Kraft products. People are able to interact with the brand and like-minded fans, fostering community around the kinship of inspired and creative cooking.
In a time when empowered consumers have so many more options of products to buy and where to buy them, CPG marketers need strategies like these more than ever to meaningfully connect with people and extend the brand relationship past the anonymous moment of product purchase, trial and use.