Consumers want online relationships with their friends and colleagues. This is evident in the rise of social networks -- both large, such as Facebook, MySpace or LinkedIn, and smaller but rapidly
growing niche communities such as CafeMom. A recent survey from my company shows people also welcome online relationships with consumer brands --specifically, consumer packaged goods (CPG). Seventy
percent of respondents said they already use the Internet to research everyday grocery products. Many (47%) deem branded e-newsletters as their preferred channel of communication for this type of
information, followed by branded CPG Web sites (39%) and online communities/forums (14%).
This data indicates a huge opportunity for brands to create relationships with these consumers. But,
just as with their personal online relationships like those mentioned above, consumers want to control the relationship. They want to pick what brands they enter into relationships with on their own
terms. Consumers also want to be in charge of the type and frequency of information they receive. And they especially want a promise that the relationship will provide real value. When asked
what they want out of their relationships with CPG marketers, consumers responded:
- 48% want information on products
- 46% want savings on the products
want tips on using the products
In fact, when we asked respondents what would ultimately convince them to sign up for a brand's e-Newsletter, most said they would be persuaded by
valuable information and savings offers:
- 76% would sign up for information on specials and savings offers
- 22% for valuable information on new
- 2% for information on where to buy specific products
The data also indicates that many CPG brands aren't doing enough
to foster online relationships with consumers - as only 14% of those polled said they conduct research on branded CPG Web sites. The survey gives a bit of insight as to why. According to the results,
consumers who don't conduct their research at a CPG product web site told us their reason was because:
- Don't know about the branded product sites
- Don't find the branded product sites helpful (17%)
- Don't trust the information at the branded product sites (16%)
CPG marketers should take heed.
Branded sites as well as general savings and shopping sites can attract more consumer interest and grow profitable relationships by populating their sites with product information, product savings and
offers and tips on how to use specific products. Here are a few ways brands can engage consumer on their websites:
- Offer information on how to save money and time. For
example, at sites like Eversave.com and The Coupon Mom, consumers an find articles tips such as how to
save money on baby diapers or pet food, how to entertain kids on a budget and strategies for making grocery shopping easier.
- Provide a community. Foster an
environment where busy consumers can share quick and easy recipes with each other. Some sites such as Eversave Recipes offer
online cookbooks highlighting a variety of member-submitted recipes with themes such as Weeknight Dinners, Best of Burgers and Summertime Treats. Cookbooks like these can easily be printed for quick
reference in the kitchen.
- Consumers like to hear what other consumers think. Users of communities like the ones mentioned above often enjoy sharing their
opinions and preferences by answering polls -- especially when, after voting or providing their opinion they are able to see how the aggregate has responded -- which is both fun and interactive.
Polling also provides an opportunity to present the user very relevant offers and promotions based on their answers.