Web strategy: E-packaging the goods

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Marketers from Minute Maid's Simply Orange joined a growing trend among consumer package-goods companies with the decision to make a Web site an integral part of Simply Orange's launch in April 2001.

Simplyorangejuice.com was launched April 15 shortly before crates of the not-from-concentrate drink from the Coca-Cola Co.-owned entity shipped to stores May 1. "We wanted to create awareness and excitement about the brand prior to its launch and extend the brand promise to our customers," said Bobby Patton, group brand manager-orange juice, Minute Maid. Nearly 50% of the top consumer package-goods sites sell products or market merchandise of some kind online, according to a February 2002 report by Forrester Research.

no sales

Simply Orange, like most other package-good brands, doesn't sell its products online. Forrester found that only 29% of consumer package-goods-manufacturer sites sell products online that they also distribute through offline retail partners. Analyst Robert Rubin found in an earlier study that while 58 million U.S. households use the Internet, consumer package-goods marketers invest only a small fraction of their promotion dollars online.

Plenty of consumer-focused marketers outside the segment use Web sites to strengthen bonds with consumers and boost sales. Consumer package-good marketers "view the Internet as an additional medium as opposed to a technology to integrate media," Mr. Rubin said. "Lots of different industries like apparel and travel focus more." At the end of last year, for instance, Pfizer launched its Lipitor.com site; Nike started NikeRunning.com; and Fujifilm USA relaunched fujifilm.com.

All accompaniments to campaigns with TV and print components, both consumer package good and non-consumer package good sites continue "online a conversation begun offline," said Marlena Schwarz, director of client strategy at Sharpe Partners, the New York shop that created simplyorangejuice.com and fujifilm.com.

Fujifilm, for example, attempts to expand consumers' notion of the brand-Fuji supplies film but also other resources to photo enthusiasts. Fuji's Pictureyourlife.com, an offshoot of Fujifilm.com, targets the casual photo buff. Consumers who register get advice from experts, can share tips with other hobbyists in chat rooms, or send photos using Fuji-branded e-mail. The e-mail function is a viral-marketing technique designed to cultivate brand recognition in a digital medium.

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