It’s the time of day when panic starts to set in. At 4 p.m. on weeknights when people realize that they don’t know what they’re going to have for dinner, they go online and frantically search for dinner ideas. Not surprisingly, some of the most searched keywords on the Internet around that time of day are “chicken,” “chicken recipes,” and “dinner.”
If you’re MyWebGrocer, a provider of digital solutions to the grocery and consumer packaged goods industries, the nightly refrain of “What’s for dinner?” provides an opportunity to fill a consumer need.
In the case of McCormick, the maker of spices, seasoning mixes, condiments and other flavoring products, the 4 p.m. keyword search provides insight into what consumers want and an opportunity to provide them with relevant information and offers at the moment they are ready to make a purchase.
“We know that Americans want to have better tasting food,” says Alec Newcomb, chief strategy officer of MyWebGrocer. “We told McCormick we could help consumers expand their palate as they’re searching for
dinner solutions. When chicken, beef and seafood are on sale at a local grocery store, we offer up recipes to make a new tasty meal.”
Key to this targeting is MyWebGrocer’s Brand Activation Suite, a new platform for connecting brands to consumers through grocery ads. It is designed to act as a kind of closed loop that takes the consumer from the initial search for information to a shopping cart of the necessary ingredients.
For example, when someone types “chicken dinner recipes” into a search engine, a paid ad announcing a sale on chicken at a local supermarket will appear. That ad would typically lead to a digital circular for the supermarket, but before the circular loads, a “lightbox” appears that includes content and recipes for chicken that feature McCormick spices, as well as special offers.
McCormick already has seen strong results from the program.
“When people think, ‘What am I going to make for dinner tonight?’ first they think ‘chicken’ and then they think about flavors,” says Jill Pratt, VP of marketing at McCormick. “MyWebGrocer has the information to help us really target consumers based on things they like to shop for, where they are located, or what’s on sale. We can use that information, along with the insights that we have, to build a win-win for the retailer as well as for the consumer.”
“We shorten the path for the consumer by connecting them with retailers and brands,” says Newcomb. “If we do our job, you never know we’re there.”
MyWebGrocer manages digital circulars for more than 130 retailers nationally, including Kroger, ShopRite and Winn-Dixie, encompassing more than 10,000 grocery stores, and more than 90 major consumer packaged goods brands, including Kellogg’s, Nestlé, Campbell’s, General Mills and Pepperidge Farm.
The Vermont-based company boasts a track record of providing measurable ROI for advertisers; 97 percent of the company’s campaigns have had a positive sales lift, according to Newcomb. By highlighting weekly sale information in search ads, as it did for McCormick, clickthrough rates can improve as much as 200 percent, he notes.
It’s all about targeting consumers with the right information at the right time and providing useful information.
“We are connecting people who have an immediate problem, such as what to make for dinner, with a solution: a recipe and on-sale products from a brand and a retailer in their geography,” says Newcomb. “The technology is making it easier for us to do that.”
As consumers spend less time watching TV and reading newspapers and more time online, it makes sense for retailers to shift from traditional to digital circulars. Using the Web, social media, mobile phones and tablets to view weekly specials, consumers can create shopping lists and add recipe ingredients before heading to the store.
“Digital circulars are more environmentally friendly and they’re also a lot more targeted,” says Newcomb. “Instead of receiving a ton of stuff just because you have a mailbox, now you can get information because you want it.”