Deeper Engagement: CPG Consumers as Fans and Innovators

20 Sep 2017
Elizabeth Silas

How can a brand make ordinary household goods sexy enough to blow up on social media? Some brands, like Dove, have succeeded with social-issue videos; others, like Gain, have hired a celebrity spokesperson. Many smaller brands have gone with early-adopter influencers. Yet, as Ad Age has pointed out, social media spending has not shown spectacular results for most marketers.

When CPG brands invest in social media, they’re looking for conversions. The goal, to advance consumers toward a transaction, is very hard to track. So we wind up looking at numbers such as views, likes, shares, time spent on site. We call this “engagement.” The data analysis silently tracks what the consumer does online.

Brands get very little insight into why the consumers are doing what they’re doing. It’s a shallow kind of listening.

Any time brands actually respond to customers in this arena, however, customers do appreciate it. In Brandwatch’s six-month analysis of CPG brands on social media, the correlation between CPG companies who responded quickly to customer-initiated contact on social media and visibility was clear. Kleenex and Pampers were two of the fastest to respond to customer posts. Hence, they ranked very high in “social visibility” and “reach growth” compared to other CPG brands studied.

However, being responsive is not enough. Shallow listening is not enough.

In order to get in on the conversations that people have about ordinary goods, brands need to:

  1. Ask them what they want.
  2. Listen—both to individuals’ ways of speaking and to groups’ analytics.
  3. Respond in real time, knowing when words alone work and exactly when the time is right for a new product or for improvements on existing ones.

USuggest It and Suggestion Lab, offering socialized suggestion boxes that feature your brand, make this process much more cost-effective and productive. There are a number of ways that asking your customers for suggestions sparks a productive dialogue.

First, the individuals whose positive input gains traction get attention from people in their networks and from your brand.

  • Individuals feel heard. They can even be rewarded, if you choose, with coupons, special offers, or any motivating element.
  • The phrasing of well-‘liked’ and circulated suggestions can be mined to speak to specific demographics in other parts of your marketing campaign.
  • The interests and themes that fire up support can start authentic conversations that draw new eyes and ears, letting you know what consumers want to see and hear and buy—in their own words.

Second, the analytics of groups and subgroups can provide your brand with early signals of changing needs and desires. These signals can precede market changes, predicting disruption as well as seasonal and life-event shifts.

  • The social analytics can be used to test research hypotheses, offering a wider and more cost-effective sample than a focus group.
  • Your brand can offer consumers not only a channel of communication with the marketing teams, but also access to the innovation pipeline. A digital suggestion box helps you dismantle the silo mentality of marketing / R&D / production.

It’s time to stop pretending that customers who ‘like’ your social media content are engaged. Ask them directly what they want and hear it at the moment of consumption—and have ready a cost-effective way to respond and make them feel heard. Listen deep.


Brandwatch. (2017). Social Insights/ The CPG Industry: The Trends Accelerating the Sector Towards Social Analytics.

Link to Source

Stein, L. (2016, February 17). Marketers Keep Spending on Social Despite Lack of Results. Ad Age.


Elizabeth Silas

 Author: Elizabeth Silas

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