Fast-Moving Consumer Goods Require Fast-Moving Social Tactics

Another year is almost upon us and with the passing of 2012 it hardly seems like the same world I recall from 2007, five short years ago when I helped launch some of the first brand pages on Facebook and Twitter. Many of these brands were FMCGs or CPGs as they like to be labeled in North America. What is interesting is looking at how FMCGs have evolved in utilizing social to remain relevant in a category that must remain rapid in terms of its marketing tactics.

FMCG marketers must think on their feet at all times like their customers do. The customer in a store aisle doesn’t ponder for hours if he should buy a bottle of soda, a box of macaroni and cheese or a package of cookies. These are quick buys and social still plays a role in terms of priming the customer to make these decisions.

As a result of this, social for FMCGs is very different from that of other categories within B2C and B2B in that the marketing programs within this category’s social must be quick, use their base audience to do the heavy lifting, be set up to engage with customers and their habits as they exist in the present and to take advantage of the neo-publishing model being adapted at a faster rate by so many brands in order to stay relevant with ongoing conversation in a 24/7 world.

The evolution of social platforms and the move toward more mobility will ultimately lead to even more changes in 2013. But for now, let’s take a look at five examples of brands that offered unique solutions in 2012 and then five things FMCGs should be thinking of as they prepare for 2013.

Five examples of great execution for FMCGs in 2012:

  • Oreo – The launch of the 100-day ‘Daily Twist’ campaign helped develop content around the cookie to create conversation. The brand really took advantage of people’s modern-day media habits by creating content around current events to help align the brand with what people were seeing in the news.
  • Red Bull – With one swift fall, the Austrian energy drink brand may have changed the face of marketing forever. Over 8 million people watched the live jump by extreme sports athlete Felix Baumgartner on YouTube while the jump was shown by more than 40 TV stations and 130 digital outlets. Red Bull’s Facebook post-jump photo of Baumgartner gained almost 216,000 likes, 10,000 comments and over 29,000 shares within 40 minutes, and half the worldwide trending topics on Twitter were related to Red Bull Stratos. In terms of ROI, some analysts predicted the event went beyond a stunt in that it created international buzz. That mass exposure may have led to a change in customer behavior from buying a Rockstar or a Monster to buying a Red Bull.
  • Old Spice – The brand followed up their successful and unique 2011 social campaign with an even more interesting social campaign that allowed users to remix an interactive video in real time. Users felt like they could truly make their own music making the left-of-center campaign very unique in terms of generating word of mouth.
  • Coca-Cola – Coke always launches a number of unique social campaigns but the biggest move by the brand was their “Happiness Is” Tumblr. Although not the first brand to use the platform, the brand understood how to use the platform, populating it with user-submitted photos and old advertising content giving the brand a unique area in whick to recycle and reuse content.
  • Cadbury – The brand announced in 2012 that they would seed everything via social first before going to traditional media. What Cadbury did was adopt the “test-and-learn” modeling that strategists have suggested for some time. They also moved quickly into realizing that the 1 million fans they had on Facebook were not as important as drumming up engagement of those fans whom they could reach as the more important KPI.

Five things FMCGs should think about in 2013:

  • Mobility – Who isn’t thinking about mobile? The issue FCMG’s need to consider further in this emerging area is how to use real-time applications to help inform customers and incentivize purchases.
  • Listening – Brands do a great job speaking, but listening to learn what customers really want out of products is still an emerging area.
  • Publishing – Not every brand is a publisher. Nor will they necessarily be in 2013. But those which can adapt what Oreo, Red Bull and Coca-Cola are doing will be able to track more efficiently how their content helps drive awareness, sales, CRM and product innovation.
  • Short Form Video as a new monetization revenue stream for the brand – Brands usually pay lots of money to media outlets to amplify their message. They then track this marketing expenditure based on success rates of how much product they then moved off the shelves. This may alter as brands begin to produce more original content that they can then monetize using platforms like YouTube and Vimeo. So instead of always having to buy media, some brands may be able to produce content that is underwritten via social channels.
  • Product Placement in Web and Mobile Video with Online Celebrities – There was a whole empire built around brands getting placed in a blockbuster Hollywood movie. But not every FMCG has a budget to afford this. They do however have the creative ability to tap into video influencers ala iJustine and Joe Penna on outlets like YouTube to get their product placed in one of the several videos these celebrities produce per week. Views between 50,000 and 100,000 per video are commonplace. It’s now a matter of brands and their agencies identifying which celebrities align with their target audience and working to figure out the right creative angle to come across as a natural integration. Stephen Colbert did this most famously with Wheat Thins in 2012.