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How CPG Brands Can Build Authentic Engagement Strategies

In 2020, nearly 55% of consumers used DTC channels to purchase CPG products or nonperishable items they use on a regular basis.

With fewer consumers strolling the aisles of their favorite big-box stores to buy the products they use every day, brands have had the opportunity to create more engaging omnichannel experiences that help shoppers get to know their brand and create stronger lifetime value.

Take soap as an example of a common CPG product. A soap brand whose products are usually grabbed on a customer’s weekly Target run can leverage social media advertising to engage with that customer on a deeper level.

For instance, the soap brand could share with the customer that its products are good for the environment or safe for children, as well as highlight special products like seasonal scents. This could inspire the customer to start making small changes to their purchases. They might opt for the soap brand’s other products, like disinfectant wipes and laundry detergent.

Soon enough, the customer eventually starts buying all their household products from the soap brand — and all because the brand had more storytelling space through social media.

Your Brand Story Doesn’t Fit on a Product Label

CPG is surging in online popularity across the board. After increasing 5.2% to $19.4 billion in 2020, US digital ad spend for CPG is expected to increase 16.4% to $22.58 billion in 2021.

CPG brands have more opportunities than ever to create an online presence that mitigates the race to the bottom with bargain shoppers:

  • Share what makes their brand unique

  • Give more information about how to use your product

  • Provide personalized product recommendations

  • Offer subscription fulfillment to make the customer’s life easier

An authentic engagement strategy helps customers feel confident shopping for products online that they’ve traditionally purchased in-store. It isn’t just about having a flashy label on a shelf anymore (although strong digital creative assets will certainly help you stand out) — it’s about intentionally curating an image for shoppers of how their life could look if they purchase your product.

How will they feel? Will the product help them feel more empowered, creative, or confident? An ad is no longer about promoting your product — it’s creating a connection with the customer that shows how that product can improve their life.

How to Capitalize on Brand Authenticity Through Online Storytelling

So how do brands create experiences that cause emotional reactions and convince shoppers to stay loyal — and beyond that, to pay a premium?

Consumers have more choices than ever and want to feel good about the products in their homes. Many retail categories have been capitalizing on authenticity through online storytelling for years, but brick-and-mortar CPG brands have been more focused on capturing attention on the shelf.

With consumer behavior shifting more online, CPG brands now have the opportunity to master the art of capturing attention on the digital shelf, as well.

1. Get to know your brand.

The job of a marketer is to understand what’s unique and different about their product, and then broadcast that to the right audience at the right time. However, 69% of consumers distrust traditional advertising.

Brands need to prioritize a strategy that gains consumer trust by being as genuine, transparent and ethical as possible, so they can earn long-term brand loyalty.

Think about your own brand. What is your story? What is your value? How do you make life easier for your customers? Use digital channels to evangelize your message and ensure that consumers have every opportunity to learn the answers to these questions.

It’s important to remember that before you can share your authentic self, you need to understand the story you’re telling.

2. Use social proof to make your point.

Brands can shout their successes from the rooftops, but word of mouth advertising has yet to be beat in terms of earning trust from new customers. These types of social proof can take place in many forms these days.

At a minimum, a brand should have a reviews strategy in place with intentional review collection at the front. Those star ratings and personal reviews can help cut through the clutter in Google searches for high-intent shoppers, or they can start to pique the interest of passive prospective customers through display channels like social media or programmatic advertising.

Influencer marketing can also be used as a lever for social proof. Consumers know that the people they follow are compensated for promoting a product, but any interest piqued by a favorite blogger offering a recommendation coupled with a website full of happy customer reviews will help to earn trust with your customer and that conversion.

The better you understand your audience, the more granular you can get with your influencer strategy. Don’t forget that micro-influencers with niche audiences can be incredibly valuable assets to help share the word of your brand.

3. Leverage user-generated content.

Additionally, there are creative ways to leverage user-generated content (UGC) across different channels. For example, if a customer shares a photo or video about how much they love your product, sharing that on social media could help more new shoppers trust your brand.

In fact, UGC is one of the most authentic forms of advertising your brand can curate. By intentionally calling on your audience to share their own pictures of your product in action or the results of using your product, you’ll be inundated with a bounty of creative assets to use in your social media, display advertising, website product pages, email campaigns and anywhere else you represent your brand.

Authentic CPG Brands Drive Customer Loyalty and Lifetime Value

Earning a customer once is a victory — but it’s a greater victory to keep them coming back for more.

Think about the soap company that also sells cleaning products again. These items only get replenished once they’re used up, so the brand could help customers with an email or a blog with cleaning tips or reminders to clean.

A guide to product usage is also a great way to remind your customers about other product lines, and it gives you the opportunity to sell more of your product line to increase your customer lifetime value.

Think about how you’re engaging on social media, email, SMS and in your brick-and-mortar sales channels. As long as your content leads with being helpful and authentic — and you understand how these channels are working together — you can earn your customers loyalty by making their lives easier.

Today’s shoppers can see through inauthentic sales tactics, and with more choices available, the brands that will continue to thrive in 2021 and beyond will be the brands that master customer engagement.

Your website should be a treasure trove of reasons for customers to love your products, so pull the right levers to lead your audience on a journey of learning and loving your brand.

Noel Liotta avatar

Noel Liotta has spent a decade in advertising, from print to digital, and worn quite a few sales and marketing hats during her tenure. Today, she leads the Partner Program at ROI Revolution and helps solve problems for brands by forging connections with top ecommerce vendors and helping to find untapped opportunities to grow.