Vol. 127 - NO. 39

Blog Startup CPG

SINCE 2019

Strategy Emerging Brands Need to Win at Retail

Joanna Tran is the Content Marketing Manager at Social Nature. She tells the stories of emerging brands who use Social Nature’s platform to drive targeted sampling at retail. Social Nature is the exclusive sampling partner of Startup CPG.

In our highly connected world, more and more consumers are choosing to shop cross-channel. From a recent survey of Social Nature’s community of 750,000 members, 57% of natural product shoppers shop in-store for groceries at least 2-3 times per week and 37% buy groceries online at least 2-3 times per week.

Online channels remain the most common way consumers discover new better-for-you products. And yet 27% of respondents say they never shop online for groceries.

“The search for products and services begins online. Amazon is the world’s biggest search engine, with Google right behind it. Instagram is prioritizing purchasing products on its social platform. Consumers want to search, find and learn about products online before they buy.”

— Kenny & Phil, Co-hosts of the podcast, This Commerce Life podcast

The online-to-offline opportunity

Brick and mortar still maintains the highest volume of retail sales for everyday products. Online-to-offline (O2O) marketing helps emerging brands bridge the behavior of consumers discovering products online with the behavior of in-store grocery shopping.

Consumers are highly engaged and receptive to new products. From our survey, 92% said they are actively seeking new products to support new health goals or lifestyle changes. Others just want to try something new.

Startup CPG brands are highly innovative and strategically positioned to meet consumers desires for new better-for-you products.
“It’s no news that today’s shoppers and consumers live in a digital world. This isn’t just where your brand can be discovered though, it’s where you build trust, build relationships and build brand love.
Digital-first retail marketing is where you can move shoppers from a passive relationship to an active relationship and can close the gap from online only or in-store only, to bring the two together.”
— Ainsley Moir, Creator of Food Brands That Sell HealthyFoodandBeverageGroup.com

So what exactly is online-to-offline marketing?

O2O marketing is a full commerce cycle that generates targeted online consumer demand, converts it to in-store purchase, then brings shoppers back online to collect their reviews, feedback, and build direct relationships.

There are four stages to the O2O consumer journey. Here’s a quick summary below!

1. Online discovery

This is the first stage. The O2O consumer journey starts with meeting shoppers where they are. Find out where they hang out and discover products. Validate your product with them. Collect the right data to build your audience. Hyper-target your audience through paid advertising, partnerships, or referrals. Create content that provides value and builds connection to earn trust.

2. Offline purchase

Once you’ve generated online demand with the right audience, it’s time to convert that demand to in-store traffic with trials and offers. Consumers want to derisk their purchases. Providing an offer such as a free trial or savings coupon will help them overcome their perceived risk of trying your product for the first time.

3. Post-purchase feedback

A new consumer bought your product. That’s just the start of your relationship! At this stage, you want to create consumer feedback loops with product reviews, user-generated content, and online surveys. This critical feedback can help you amplify results across your business.

4. Amplification and advocacy

This is the final stage before consumers start another cycle of online discovery. Before the cycle restarts, this is your brand’s opportunity to create community and amplify the voices of satisfied customers.

Stay top of mind through personalization, create content that further aligns customers with your brand values, and empower their voice by co-creating products. In fact, 91% of Social Nature community members said they love to share ideas for new products with brands. This high consumer engagement in product innovation provides a chance to build close connections with brand fans.

“The future of digital-first retail marketing is about community first and product second. It’s about forming a more intimate relationship with a customer upfront, taking them through the development process, and making them feel a part of the brand.”

— Luke Abbott, Founder, Vdriven Consulting and Venture Studio

Online-to-offline marketing creates a two-way dialogue with your consumers

The pressure is high for emerging brands. According to Inez Blackburn of the University of Toronto, more than 70-80% of product launches in the grocery sector fail.

Once your product is on the shelf, you must prove success to stay on the shelf. By having two-way dialogue with your consumers, you can capture information that will help you succeed at retailer conversations.

The O2O model allows you to capture data on who your audience is and their demand and purchase intent for your product. You’ll also gain a deeper understanding of top product attributes to uniquely position your product in the market.

Online-to-offline marketing puts you in the driver’s seat for demand generation. Now you can drive qualified consumers right to the shelf while reducing reliance and the risk of hoping you’ll get noticed at the store.

Get the full 50-page playbook to O2O marketing

This blog is just a summary of how online-to-offline marketing helps emerging brands win at retail. You can download the free 50-page guide that compiles best practices and tips from 17 CPG experts, including insights from Startup CPG Co-Founder, Daniel Scharff and Managing Editor, Erin Fasano.


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