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Making mobile connections meaningful for brands, retailers and shoppers

4 min read

Restaurant and Foodservice

(Photo: Flickr user Caden Crawford)

Mobile is no longer simply a technology that is useful to both consumers and businesses — it is a way of life. From phones to tablets and even watches, the types of communication accessible through the mobile channel seem almost infinite. But that doesn’t mean that consumer packaged goods brands and food retailers should incorporate every single type of mobile communication into their marketing strategies. So how should they approach personalizing those interactions to achieve meaningful mobile connections with consumers?

One of the challenges for CPG brands is getting better at personalization, and mobile marketing can be an avenue for that, according to Tim Burke, director of category leadership at Kraft Heinz. He and several other CPG and food retail experts talked about making connections with consumers through mobile at the National Retail Federation’s BIG Show last month.

Through mobile, brands can do many different things and offer a lot of different content to shoppers who opt in to in-store mobile messaging, which, in the end, encourages larger basket sizes. Mobile is a way to extend the messaging brands want to deliver to shoppers, and it allows brands to “take the opportunities of click and bring it to brick,” he said.

According to Burke, the key to connecting with customers via mobile is striking a balance between meeting the shopper where they are and not inundating them with so much information that they will tune your brand message out.

Messaging and data are important for both brands and retailers because they allow them to adjust their merchandise, manage categories and figure out what type of messaging is the most effective, said Steve McGowan, director of shopper marketing at Mondelez International. Creating authentic personalization breeds loyalty among shoppers, and mobile interactions provide the who, what, when, where and why that leads brands to create that personalization, McGowan said.

However, he warned that the rate of technological innovation and customer adoption is very distracting to consumers, which is something Mondelez works to combat by investing in digital activation that is meant to help drive shoppers to select Mondelez products on their shopping journey.

At Kraft, mobile allows the company to personalize the interactions the brand has with consumers and serve them content beyond just trying to sell them something, Burke said, which helps alleviate the distraction of technology. For example, recipes are a great content vehicle through which brands can interact with shoppers on a meaningful level while also educating them about their products.

When it comes to mobile, Burke said that finding an integrated mobile platform where brands can communicate with customers is key, and retailers’ mobile apps are good places for brands to reach consumers where they already are. He advised that brands look at potential mobile interactions first from the shopper’s perspective, then the retailer’s and then finally the brand’s. And while adoption of mobile technologies and campaigns doesn’t happen right away, it’s important to focus on capturing consumers who are early adopters and influence other consumers.

“You need to be part of your shopper’s eco-system,” he said.

Retailers also need to be mindful of the connections they’re making with consumers when it comes to mobile.

At Sam’s Club, the company operates in what they call the “any era,” a place where consumers can access information anytime, on any device, anywhere, any way, said Tracey Brown, Sam’s Club’s chief member officer. In her eyes, smartphone integration is driving the “any era. Today’s customers know who they are and what they want, and retailers have to figure out who their customers are before they can start truly delivering content and commerce, she said.

Sam’s Club’s existence in the “any era” is inspired by culture, driven by data and executed through technology, Brown said. Consumers are increasingly sharing personal moments and stories online, and retailers need to figure out how to connect with that, she said. They have to plug into the culture and be data-centric.

According to Brown, Sam’s Club uses data to target the members they can win with and create personalized experiences for them. And the retailer also uses data to figure out what customers it’s connecting with today, and who will be worth connecting with in the future.

With all this in mind, the final piece to the puzzle is simplicity, which McGowan said is key to reaching in-store shoppers via mobile. Over-complicated messages just don’t work.

“It has to be a simple, clear, concise message,” he said.


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