Many marketers’ understanding of local is limited or just flat out inaccurate. But consumer expectations in recent years have shifted so dramatically alongside advances in targeting and delivery that it’s really not their fault.
Marketers across every sector of B2C commerce are all struggling to better understand why local matters. How can they use it to their advantage? How can they make meaningful connections and drive sales?
It’s estimated consumers will spend approximately $4.9 trillion in retail sales this year. Brands must expand their definition of local in order to make more meaningful connections with consumers – that not only reach across all devices and screens, but speak meaningfully when they grab a consumer’s attention.
We spoke with research industry analyst Rebecca Lieb to learn what brands must do in 2015 to pull ahead of their competition in the world where media is converging while consumer-shopping behaviors are doing just the opposite.
You’ve spoken about “converged media imperative,” whereby brands, “must combine their social, corporate content and advertising reach or risk connecting with the fleeting customer.” Do you think this is a realistic ask of marketers?
Rebecca Lieb: When we conducted research on this topic, the use of the word “imperative” in the title was no accident. Over 60 percent of consumers use two screens on a daily basis. Additionally, around a third use three or more screens. The potential for fragmentation and disconnect — of messaging, of brand, of identity, of look and feel and calls-to-action — is just too high a risk to bear.
The market is too competitive and consumers’ attention spans are too short. Brands have no choice but to orchestrate and synchronize media, content, channels and devices throughout the customer journey. Otherwise, they risk not being relevant or recognized across these media channels and screens. That can kill everything from their campaign ROI and customer loyalty, to bottom-line revenue.
In a recent AdWeek article, you said: “Facebook is getting these CPG companies — the Cokes and the Pepsis and the automotives — to look more seriously at their mobile advertising products.” How important is it for brands to approach mobile and social as a unified initiative?
Rebecca Lieb: To reach consumers with impactful messaging, brands need to be everywhere consumers are, whenever they’re engaging digital. They are spending more and more of their time on mobile devices. Mobile usage has surpassed not only computer time in this country, but television time as well. Mobile is the first screen now, not the second or the third. So why wouldn’t CPGs lead with their mobile strategy?
Furthermore, what consumers do on mobile devices is primarily snack on social content. Facebook and other social channels are an enormous component of mobile behavior, as with desktop and tablet devices. Let’s not forget that with more than 1.3 billion users, Facebook is the largest media platform in human history.
That’s a pretty compelling argument for CPG brands that need to get in front of eyeballs if they want more people buying their products. And that’s even before you account for the targeting capabilities of platforms using hyper-specific and hyper-local targeting to further increase relevance with all the different audiences within their massive user base.
What’s one big misconception that CPG brands have about local marketing? And what do you think is needed to help change it?
Rebecca Lieb: I see that many CPG brands either ignore local entirely — which is a big mistake — or assume local must be exceedingly granular: a block-by-block, or Zip Code-by-Zip Code strategy. “Local” must be better understood by CPGs and more inclusive of actual consumer behaviors before brands can derive success from it.
Brands can start with regional definitions to test the waters before drilling down further. So in December, for example, promote iced tea in the South and warm coffee beverages in the Northeast. See how it goes. Then, further tailor and focus those messages for the audiences in those areas based on consumer response and engagement. A “test, listen and learn” approach can unlock massive opportunities in local, so when you get down to geo-fencing or even just a more refined approach to local search, your brand is delivering the right content in more impactful ways.
Rebecca Lieb a strategic advisor, research analyst, keynote speaker, author, and columnist. Her areas of specialization are digital marketing and media, with a concentration in content strategy, content marketing and converged media. You can follow her on Twitter @lieblink.