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CPG Brands: If You're Thinking Digital, These Are Your Tools

Consumers Turn to E-newsletters, Search, Branded Sites to Learn About Your Products

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BATAVIA, Ohio (AdAge.com) -- In the latest of several studies showing surprising power for digital marketing among package-goods brands, more than two-thirds of consumers who use the internet have used it to research package-goods products, according to a new survey by Prospectiv, a firm that provides online customer leads for marketers.

The survey, conducted late last year with more than 4,000 consumers culled from Prospectiv's online database, showed a slight plurality of the consumers who use the internet to research package-goods brands (48%) do so primarily to get product information. Another 46% use the internet to seek savings or coupons, while 6% are primarily looking for tips on how to use the product.

Turning to e-newsletters
A slight plurality (27%) in the Prospectiv survey said they got most of their product information from e-newsletters, compared to 25% who favored search and those who favored general savings and shopping sites or branded product sites (tied at 14% each). Only 12% of consumers used seemingly more objective sites run by newspapers and magazines for such research, and only 8% used comparison-shopping sites.

The survey would seem to indicate substantial potential for package-goods marketers to use e-newsletters, either their own or those published by others, said Jere Doyle, CEO of Prospectiv, whose clients include Procter & Gamble Co., General Mills and Nestle. He conceded the makeup of the panel, some of whom were pulled from groups the company had recruited into marketers' e-newsletter programs, could have weighed on the results.

But he said the group overall was made up of people who had responded to a number of online offers and some who had simply responded to a survey request. The survey didn't include phone or mail sampling to reach people who don't use the internet regularly.

The data appears to dovetail with recent research from other sources showing surprising consumer interest in using the internet to research package-goods brands, whose relatively low prices and low glamour once seemed to preclude consumers ever seeking them out online.

Branded CPG websites
Deloitte Consulting last year found 62% of consumers read online reviews, including 17%-18% who read online reviews of household cleaning or personal-care products. In separate studies last year, ComScore found 47% of traffic to package-goods websites came from search queries and that branded CPG sites had seen traffic grow 10% last year, twice the rate of the overall internet population. ComScore also found online display advertising was a significant driver for much of the increased traffic to branded sites.

Prospectiv's survey found broad-based interest across several segments, with 70% of respondents saying they had done internet research on "everyday grocery products," and 63% saying they had done so for health and beauty products.

Mr. Doyle was most surprised by the relative pull of information over promotional offers, though Prospectiv's results are similar to those of ComScore, which also found a slight plurality of consumers using search on consumer package-goods brands for information rather than savings.

Even so, Prospectiv's survey found discounts continue to have particular pull in getting people into branded sites and e-mail programs. Of respondents who said they did most of their product research on brand sites, 52% said they were primarily attracted by savings or offers. And when asked what would induce them to sign up for a branded e-newsletter, 76% said specials or savings, compared to only 22% who said they would be lured by new-product information.

Digital-marketing tools
Prospectiv's survey combined with other recent studies would appear to show considerable power for the digital-marketing tools most employed by package-goods marketers, including search and display advertising, branded websites and e-mail.

John Yengo, partner with Barefoot Advertising, Cincinnati, which handles digital work for P&G and SABMiller among others, said no particular sub-discipline appears to be growing faster than the others, but he said most programs now incorporate sweepstakes or some other response element, such as one last year for Dawn dish soap in which people could enlist friends to join them in populating virtual duck ponds.
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