SAN FRANCISCO Naysayers used to assert that packaged-goods companies would never have much success attracting people to their Web sites because there isn't much tech sizzle in a bar of soap or box of crackers. New evidence on Web traffic would suggest otherwise. Companies such as Kraft, General Mills and Betty Crocker are attracting new unique users at twice the rate of the Internet as a whole, according to recent data from comScore.
Consumer packaged-goods sites on average grew 10 percent in unique visitors in the third quarter of 2007 compared to a year earlier, when the total Internet audience grew 5 percent, per comScore.
Kraft was the leader, nabbing 10 million visitors in 2007, an increase of 8 percent over 2006. But the runaway winner is Coca-Cola's Web site for its My Coke Rewards program, which snagged only 66,000 unique visitors in the third quarter of 2006 but exploded to 8.6 million during the same period in 2007, an increase of 13,000 percent.
But even with its massive growth, the Coke site, launched in February 2006, has yet to catch up to KraftFoods.com. That site attracts users with a cooking school, message boards, videos and Kraft recipes that are ranked and reviewed by users.
Another comScore comeback story, UncleBens.com grew 1,800 percent from 191,000 uniques in the third quarter of 2006 to 3.6 million uniques in the same period of 2007. Like Kraft, the site features recipes, healthy eating tips, search and e-mail.
Other top packaged-goods sites were General Mills children's venue Millsberry.com, which grew 11 percent; BettyCrocker.com, which grew 7 percent; and Wrigley's Candystand.com, which grew 1 percent, per comScore.
Coke's program generates significant online buzz from bloggers sharing tips and complaints about the process of redeeming reward points and from members looking to buy or sell points from other online Coke customers.
"To date, most CPG marketers have been reluctant to move a significant portion of their marketing budgets online because the Internet is not a primary sales channel for their products," said Carolina Petrini, svp, consumer packaged goods solutions at comScore.
"However many brands have found success by attracting a wide audience online through effective promotions and site activities that appeal to consumers' lifestyles. Savvy brand marketers are beginning to understand the importance of the online channel as a means of engaging consumers, which will ultimately lead to offline sales," she said.