Brace yourself – FMCG is about to weaponise content marketing

Can you remember the last great piece of content marketing you stumbled across? It may have made you laugh, think or even cry. But I’m willing to bet it didn’t make you buy.

Recent research found that 60% of all content created by brands is poor, irrelevant or fails to deliver. Consumers – and brands – are drowning in content, and among all the noise even the most creative pieces are marginalised.

So as much as you align your brands with topics or issues that matter to your customer, is your content doing more than merely raising eyebrows? Now that so many customers are opting for ad-blockers, it’s true that content is king. But are you really expecting the audience to be so inspired they remember your brand as they’re clicking through their weekly shop or browsing instore?

Yet my content cynicism is being rocked. Diageo recently announced a partnership with Amazon on an upcoming video series. This allows Diageo to embed links to products featured directly into the video for purchase via Amazon. This follows hot on the heels of Net-a-Porter adding a purchase mechanic into its online magazine, halting the wild goose chase shoppers find themselves on when they see an appealing item in a print publication and are then left to search for it themselves.

It’s clear that the opening shots of a brand content war have been fired. And I expect this will be fought particularly hard in the FMCG sector.

Forget the hulking shadow of Amazon for a moment. Adding any kind of purchasing mechanic allows a brand to finally close the circle between content and sales. But it’s not just about driving baskets or measuring one piece of content against another – it’s about making your product the hero by helping shoppers solve problems and meet their aspirations.

Recipe for success

FMCG is a natural home for weaponised, shoppable content, since the available options are so vast and varied. With multiple products under the same umbrella, FMCG companies are free to produce recipes, inspiration and guides that combine a range of their own brands in a single piece of content. Why cross your fingers and hope a customer remembers you when they’re next browsing? Close the deal as they consume your content.

Let’s stick with Diageo as an example. A shoppable article on the perfect Eurovision cocktail party could include themed cocktails based on Gordon’s, Bell’s and Captain Morgan, with the entire party’s worth of goods shoppable in a couple of clicks. The average shopper is more likely to fulfil their impulse for these type of products than they if the content was, say, focused on luxury cars.

The opportunity for heavier basket orders is there. But with a purchasing mechanic comes the ability to add incentive. Discounted bundles provide customers with just the nudge they need to click ‘add to basket’ on not one but plenty of your items.

“Throw the perfect Eurovision cocktail party – for £20 less than if you were to buy instore!”

Suddenly there’s a reason for customers to pore over content they would have otherwise forgotten – or never clicked on. With such a prevalence of channels, these new online checkouts are set to be everywhere, from hosted blogs to social, branded publications to video.

When it comes to weaponised content, the opportunities for FMCG are tremendous. Food and drink brands in particular should be sitting up and taking notice. With an increasing number of customers actively searching for affordable routes to healthier lifestyles, diet-based meal plans provide the chance to give customers what they want, at a discounted price – while boosting loyalty by placing multiple items in each shopper’s favourites list.

Own brand battles

Beyond customer satisfaction, shoppable content could prove to be a game changer for the brand-retailer dynamic.

For too long, FMCGs have lost out to own brands – and they only have themselves to blame. In the quest for ever-increasing brand awareness, brand accessibility has been forgotten. You may have spent millions on your brand’s latest campaign, but all you may have done is prompt a consumer to visit a retailer and spot that their product is cheaper than yours.

When FMCG content is shoppable, they call the shots. Retailers may still deliver the order, but there’s the incentive (inspiration, accessibility, discount) for the customer to click on the products they see on the page, rather than abandon the site and browse the sea of competing brands and products at the retailer.

This shouldn’t be seen as a declaration of war on retailers, however. Content is a good sales channel for all sides and retailers will benefit from the more valuable baskets coming their way. But it does redress the balance in what has so far been a very one-sided relationship.

I’m confident that shoppable content marketing will be a game-changer for FMCG brands. Diageo may be one of the first, but with the tech now freely available I believe that rather than a cautious slew of early adopters we’re about to see a rapid shoppable content arms race.

Take it from me – in the not too distant future, ‘great’ pieces of content will be assessed not on engagement metrics, but on their ability to put brands in baskets.

Richard Kelly is chief executive at Adimo

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