ORLANDO, FL. — Gone are the days when snack food companies had separate online and in-store marketing strategies. In today’s digital world, both have to mix into one omnichannel strategy.
That was the message from Sam Gagliardi, senior vice-president, e-commerce, with I.R.I. At SNAXPO, held from March 31-April in Orlando, Mr. Gagliardi presented “The New Realities of the Snack Industry and How to Win with E-Commerce,” which highlighted ways companies can create successful marketing and branding strategies that succeed online and in traditional retail.
Mr. Gagliardi first defined what is shaping the current state of the digital marketplace. He said there are two main digital avenues to consumers today: pure play and the omnichannel experience. Pure play means consumers purchase products directly through a third-party distributor like Amazon with no retailer involved. The omnichannel involves shopping through a retailer like Walmart or Target that is building online experiences to mirror its in-store shopping experience.
He emphasized that most commerce today, whether in-store or digital, begins in one place: online. I.R.I. data show that 77% of all purchasing decisions for consumer packaged goods start online.
“So in this world, it’s less about what you own, but where you build your brand presence,” Mr. Gagliardi said.
Today’s growth in click-and-collect models is an example of fusing the online and in-store experience. Mr. Gagliardi said brands need to position themselves in a way to capitalize on this trend.
He said that brands today should follow a “build, drive, earn” strategy.
First, there’s the need to build an online presence. Online grocery shoppers today often select to refill their baskets or carts with the snacks and foods they purchased the previous week. Mr. Gagliardi said it’s imperative to become their first choice of snack.
“You have to win first if you’re going to win at all,” he said.
Online retail is shaped by algorithms, and companies can capitalize on product placement by targeting the right search terms based on products or seasons.
By building engaging and relevant content, creating a library of product images and fostering positive online ratings and reviews, companies can set themselves up for success.
“If you’re not able to capture that traffic and that awareness, then you have no opportunity to go for that online space and the in-store market in terms of that distribution,” he said.
Next, he said companies need to drive consumers to their products by shortening the path to purchase. Companies should build their organic and paid search terms and work with e-retailers to create a retargeting strategy that branches into social media and other online channels.
Finally, food companies need to earn the awareness, consideration, conversation and loyalty of their consumers. He said that when brands do this, they win better search results, increased impressions, more subscriptions and ultimately increased sales.
“You have to explore and find your best sweet spot for winning online,” Mr. Gagliardi said.