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CPG Marketers Are Going Digital With Loyalty Programs

Use third-party data efforts to connect with consumers

Post Foods' Grape-Nuts Fit cereal

Not long ago, packaged-goods brands were accused of being slow movers in digital. Now, that reputation is changing as more marketers enlist social media and mobile to link loyalty programs with real-world data.

While big-name brands like Coca-Cola and Kraft invest in building up their own programs, a new crop of smaller marketers—including Post Foods—are piggybacking on data platforms to gain traction for their loyalty initiatives. “We’re not the size of a Kraft or a Mondelez or a P&G,” said Jennifer Brain-Mennes, director of media and public relations, Post Foods. “The resources required to build a CRM database and a loyalty program are pretty high if you don’t have significant scale.”

Post Foods’ Grape-Nuts Fit cereal is betting on mobile advertising targeting health enthusiasts to appeal to a younger demographic than the brand is traditionally known for. The cereal maker is running mobile campaigns—powered by fitness app MapMyFitness and mobile reward platform SessionM—that dole out virtual rewards in exchange for watching videos or clicking on ads. “It’s really a psychographic that we’re trying to reach versus a demographic,” Brain-Mennes said.

The results so far are promising. The video campaign with SessionM is generating a 35 percent clickthrough rate and a 90 percent completion rate. And, a sweepstakes that offers prizes including Lululemon gift cards and Fitbit fitness trackers has attracted 68,000 entries.

Heinz-owned Smart Ones and its agency Ferrara & Co. are taking a similar approach to loyalty as one of the first brands to use a new tool from coupon and promotion platform SavingStar. Using the SavingStar app, consumers can snap pictures of receipts to redeem Smart Ones offers. The coupons can also be linked to retailers’ loyalty cards.

The idea is that the app will boost coupon redemptions since offers are based on purchase behavior. “If they’re seeing a promotion that says, ‘Hey, we know that you’re already purchasing Smart Ones at Walmart’ or ‘You’re purchasing frozen nutritional meals,’ [the follow-up offer may be], ‘If you spend $40 in Smart Ones over the next two months, you’ll get $10 back,’ and a lot of people are actually doing that,” explained Ferrara & Co.’s Robert Mills, director of performance marketing.

Not all CPG brands are keen to work with third-party data programs. Doug Rozen, chief innovation officer at MXM, noted these platforms typically group several brands together, making it hard for a single marketer to stand out.

Still, as more brands churn out content, there’s an opportunity for marketers to link digital creative to in-store sales. Kraft’s Food & Family program, for example, uses Web and mobile recipe content to make shopping lists for moms. “We think this is where more sophisticated CPG marketers are going toward because with social, digital and mobile, you now have access to recipes, solutions and other content, whether it be from home or in-aisle, to help you buy products,” Rozen said.

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