Post updated 30th October, 2017.
I enjoyed my client side time in the world of Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG). It is a great world that allows you to experience the entire spectrum of textbook sales and marketing, including:
- The true power of brand development and branding.
- True integrated campaigns (incorporating experiential marketing)
- The close relationship between sales and marketing.
- The importance of cross-functional (inter-departmental) teams with New Product Development and product enhancements.
- The discipline of implementing a 'Go-To-Market' strategy for every product
- How mass (or global) marketing filters down to local (store level) promotions.
- The power of channel management, category development and category growth.
- Consumer behaviour, psychology, research, insights and their impact on marketing segmentation strategies...
- and the list goes on...
More simply, you have the chance to not only 'ask' but to 'analyse' why someone may buy Dove over Nivea? Napisan over Sard? Maltesers over Flake? Or any of the above products over supplementary products that could fulfil the same need or want.
Although I should be a savvy consumer with my marketing knowledge, I am still a sucker for the marketing techniques and campaigns of the FMCG world in my day to day life. For example, I appreciate well executed branding, good packaging that clearly states a products benefits, enjoy catchy communications campaigns, cannot go past a good 'value' pack and feel the urge to try a competing brand with a decent price promotion...half of the time for something I don't actually need.
How does someone like myself still get sucked in by this marketing?
Aside from the traditional brand and product marketing, there is another aspect of marketing that FMCG companies perform really well and that is 'Customer Marketing', which can also fall under different terms such as Trade Marketing, Channel Activation, Category Development or Retail Activation.
This area generally sits in between marketing and sales and is the expert area for executing the marketing strategy (with the understanding of consumer behaviour) through key sales channels and partnerships.
Fundamentally, this involves facilitating relationships between your organisation and in this case the retail channel to seek greater opportunities for the product to be marketed and seen by the end consumer.
A key aspect is ensuring that relationships are occurring between your organisations divisions (marketing, sales, warehousing, product supply etc) and the customers respective division, sharing key information for a strong product activation at store level and always giving the channel partner a reason (or many reasons) to support your product over your competitors.
What are some of the everyday or practical aspects of Customer Marketing?
- Internal and external stakeholder management
- Corporate communications (specifically for channels)
- Channel campaigns and promotions
- Sales and account management presentations
- Developing and executing point of sale, merchandising and promotional strategies
- Analysing and reporting on data (customer insights, buyer behaviour, store scan data, promotions, competitor trends) to develop path to purchase programs that leads to category growth.
- Facilitating product activation via a 'go to market' program by channel
- Trade public relations
- Trade show, conference and event marketing
- Manufacturer and channel system management and data synchronisation
- Influence product portfolio strategy
The most important aspect is really understanding the opportunities that lie within your sales channels and managing the relationships to benefits from those opportunities...thats it.
How does Customer Marketing go beyond the FMCG industry alone?
There are a lot of industries that participate in trade marketing and have a highly sales-based trade marketing focus. However, the true strength of FMCG is that this industry has a highly marketing-based approach to customer marketing and sales.
FMCG sales and marketing staff can easily shift between their respective departments into each other's roles and this is simply because they share the same fundamental marketing principles.
What other industries can learn is that the core principle behind the success of the FMCG industry is understanding the true power of the brand and how to execute the core brand essence across all functions in their organisation. FMCG does this well as they have no other choice due to the high transactional nature of product purchase and high competitiveness.
Although I have been rabbiting on about FMCG, I have noticed that in the recent 5-10 years another industry is leading the way for marketing on all fronts due to the opportunity of true globalisation and that is software.
With the advent of SaaS (Software as a Service) based systems, I have noticed that channels and partnerships are highly important and international barriers are being shattered through. Companies like Google, Xero, Adobe and Atlassian have taken the model and pushed it further.
The barriers of entry for setting up our Sydney based marketing agency Mind Methods are highly minimised compared to 10 years ago due to SaaS based products!
So, why should I...
- Choose to have an accountant for book keeping over using accounting software such as Xero?
- Go for one of the tens of thousands of financial advisors out there over another...after all, they're all the same right?
- Choose one super fund over another?
- Visit this medical centre over my local doctor?
- Vote for this politician over their rival?
- Choose a barrister over a solicitor ...or an entire legal (or law) firm?
The answer obviously lies in marketing, but supporting your channels through marketing (or customer marketing) helps your target make these decisions in a more credible and effective manner.
Other industries can learn from this approach to marketing to ultimately win and we have noticed our clients increasingly highlighting opportunities in an area that they haven't quite defined yet, but we know is clearly Customer Marketing (or whatever other names you would like to call this area).
A little light entertainment.
And for those of you that get it here is the Foo Fighters song 'Big Me' featuring their version of Mentos...Footos.