Marketers from some of the world’s biggest FMCG brands including Johnson & Johnson and Pernod Ricard have suggested that their shift in marketing pounds away from traditional channels, namely TV, is being hampered by a lack of education on the effectiveness of digital by the retail giants that buy their goods.
Johnson & Johnson - the company behind brands like Neutrogena, Johnson’s Baby Care and Listerine - has been investing more time and budget into programmatic, particularly in the UK where it has run a number of trials in recent months.
Johnson & Johnson said one of the main challenges it has faced is convincing the trade partners they sell through – Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s for example – that they will shift stock from their shelves by better targeting customers online and on mobile than they can with through advertising to a mass audience on TV.
Speaking at TubeMogul’s ‘TubeMogul University’ event in Lisbon last week, Katalin Spielman head of media for the FMCG giant explained: “When you go to trade, they still want to see [from your media plan] that you are on ITV or Channel 4. It’s easier for them to see that you’re spending enough money on a marketing campaign.”
The issue is being heightened by the challenging environment of the grocery sector. The rise of the discounters has left the ‘Big Four’ behemoths battling falling sales and market share. They need shoppers through the door and beyond their own marketing, rely heavily on brands promoting their wares to as large an audience as possible.
In trying to emulate the lean model of Lidl and Aldi, the larger supermarkets are also scaling back the number of brands they will put on shelves. Tesco has promised to bull at least 30 per cent of its products while Asda is looking to shed at least 10 per cent.
As such, “you need to fight for shop space,” according to Spielman and that means playing ball with the supermarket’s buy-side teams who want to see TV on the media plan.
Spielman said it’s an issue that needs to be solved and “there’s an education that needs to happen from brand side to trade” when it comes to the benefits of increasing focus on digital channels. Proving its value to through engaging content is Spielman’s more immediate solution.
“The more interesting content we can create that lives cross-device the easier it is to solve. [Trade] understand that we have these great insights into Johnson Baby, but they need to fall in love with the campaign. That’s easier than trying to explain that it will be seen by this amount of people with this frequency. If we create more engaging content, it would help.”
Joining Johnson & Johnson at the event was Pernod Ricard which said it faced a similar challenge but its response has been to educate its own sales team who present to the buy-side on the nuances of a multi-screen strategy.
Thibaut Portal, the group media efficiency leader at drinks-giant told The Drum that his experience of the issue varies from market to market, as its media plan heavily depends on a region’s regulations towards advertising alcohol.
“But we have the same challenge,” he admitted. “It’s something we’re starting to address but we’re at the beginning. [Others] might be more advanced but it is something that’s on the agenda for the year to come.”
Its reponse to the challenge has been to change from the inside out. A year ago Pernod Ricard shifted the organisation internally to put its sales team and marketing team in the same department.
“It’s for us to work on what will be said by the sales team [to trade] and really communicate the benefits of digital,” he added. “It rings a bell for some but maybe not for others.”
It's a wider trend that was discussed heavily at the TubeMogul event, with a number of other brands The Drum spoke to saying they had faced similar issues and were, like Pernod Ricard, trying to bring their sales and marketing teams closer in a bid to reslove it interally.