CPG Brands Weigh In On COVID-Related Behavior Changes

Before MediaPost's Brand Insider CPG Summit took place Aug. 18, we asked attendees a series of questions to gauge their advertising behavior, with interesting results.

Media spend since COVID-19 hit in March went down by a lot. As much as 64% of respondents said their spend declined by 20% or more. A little more than a quarter (27%) said media spend remained about the same and fewer than 1 in 10 (9%) saw spend decline by 20% or less. Some marketers reported that although they reduced their spend, it was more efficient in the end.

So where did those ad dollars go? More than a third (35%) put it on social, a quarter put it into digital display/video, 15% tossed it into search, 10% put  it into social influence and another 10% said OTT/CTV, with TV coming in last at 5%.

Among the brands that stopped advertising on Facebook and Instagram during the July boycott, seemingly no one tested other social programs, citing a lack of time and/or money. Said one respondent, "We used the time to try to validate cros-over and channel attribution with other current partners. We wanted to test Pinterest and Twitter."

Brands are leveraging delivery-based services to adapt to current purchasing behavior due to increased demand from COVID-19, with Amazon Prime being the top choice of respondents at 30%. A fifth (20%) are using grocery delivery apps, Instacart and Walmart equally, while 10% use Shipt. Some launched their own ecommerce sites such as pantryshop.com, snacks.com, and well.ca.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, many brands saw spikes in performance across retail. As a result, they say their relationships with some retailers have grown.

One person said their relationships with buyers "have actually improved. The old meeting structure was broken. Video conferencing and WFH (working from home) have 'humanized' some customers who were previously more difficult."

And another offered that they were creating more local content and rewards for current players.

Finally, we wanted to know about their biggest marketing challenges in the next year. Not surprisingly, nearly half (48%) cited planning in an unpredictable environment, 14% cited D2C competitors -- with an equal percentage citing Amazon.

The plethora of marketing channels was cited as a challenge by 10%, while another 10% pointed to "other," which included competition from the social platforms, not knowing where the market will be after the presidential election, knock-off competition and global brands. A small number (5%) cited private-label competition.

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