Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Old school marketing revival on the way: Package and product quality

After the advertising clutter paradox in the nineties and nillies, the advent of mobile phone and tablet technology has been heralded as the holy grail of modern advertising. These new technologies indeed guarantee new and improved communications between brands and customers. They also make sure that at the conscious level, there should be a great deal of integrity put into the marketing efforts with these new channels. As a customer, we should therefore welcome these applications, I believe. These modern technologies also have their impact on more traditional advertising. As I suggest below, this is true for traditional above-the-line advertising as well as for the most basic of all marketing communication tools: the product and its packaging.

The advent of said technologies has also been looked at from a more anxious point of view, because some believed this would truly commence the gradual breakdown of traditional (and relatively easy-to-manage) above-the-line advertising.
Recent data seem to suggest otherwise, just like other professionals already hypothesized: Apparantly, we often use tablets and smartphones during traditional media consumption. Modern technologies thus seem to supplement traditional media consumption. The intriguing conclusion is than that these technologies inspire a revival of traditional advertising because these ads can generate traffic on the mobile devices we always carry with us. For those in the business, the above is not really new.

One other side-effect of these modern technologies I have not yet encountered in other’s opinions is even more intriguing, I  believe. The rapidly growing penetration of these devices has led traditional retailers to show up with some great home-shopping apps. These make it more fun and easy for customers to do their home shopping, compared to the purely web-based opportunities that already exist. The steady growth in the use of these services and the to-be-expected rapid growth instigated by mobile devices, will put producers to the test. Whereas the fast-moving consumer goods (or consumer-packaged goods) have so far done well in engaging people online with brand pages (to a massive extent), I predict that they will now have to go back to their core business: their products.

Consider your average Joe possessing a mobile device while consuming the last portion of a box of cereals. What will be the most straightforward action, you think? Will he rapidly visit the facebook brand page and leave a comment? Or will he be more likely to open his favorite online shopping app and put a new pack of cereals in the list? Hypothesizing on the rapid penetration of these apps, I put my money on the latter.

The marketing implication then is straightforward. First, the packaging of products will again become more important. Where some already recognize that the package is the last ad seen before purchase, the package will become the last ad seen before repurchase. CPG producers should thus start thinking about easy and appealing repurchase-facilitation for mobile devices (e.g., QR codes or other techniques that aid a quick adding to the mobile shopping list; think also about related products being easily suggested like another flavour of cereals or milk). Second, this will also put another emphasis on product quality. If the moment of a final repurchase decision will be brought back to the moment of last consumption, it is essential that the product experience is simply great, even at that time (possibly weeks after the initial purchase). So, the long-term product quality will be a main customer-loyalty driver for the high-quality brands. The average Joe's cereals should still be crispy enough to not make him change his mind after finishing the cereals because this very concrete and recent experience is so vivid. This is a different situation compared to in-store decisions where customers are more inclined to rely on rather general brand attitudes. 

Customer loyalty has been an important issue for quite some time now and CPGs have been struggling with it. The advent of new media opportunities should provide them with a format to really take care of it, but I doubt the solution will be based on a social network focus as they have now.

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