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All Roads Must Lead to Consumer Engagement

Clarkston sponsored last week’s annual Consumer Goods Technology (CGT) Sales and Marketing Summit, Datatopia: From Big Data to Meaningful Customer Dialogue.   Big data, social media, trade promotions and mobility were all key topics of discussion within the context of driving consumer engagement.

Of particular interest was Gary Vaynerchuk’s opening keynote address, where he focused on the value proposition associated with engaging the consumer through social media.  His advice was to forget ROI calculations and realize that social media helps “sell stuff.”  From his perspective, that is all that matters and the inexpensive nature of social media is a “no brainer” investment…especially when focused on engaging directly with the consumer.

Gary outlined that the key to leveraging social media is to realize that it is not just one channel of social, but instead many channels that require a unique mix. When each is approached purposefully, data and insights can be appropriately leveraged. For example, Pinterest is simply a database of what consumers intend to purchase or hope to buy in the future.  Mining this data and using it to engage potential buyers ultimately helps manufacturers  take back some of the relationship with consumers and could even help to reduce trade spend.  That said, social media is a long-play – it may not sell stuff day one, but if used right, Gary advocates it will pay off.

Clarkston believes that those Consumer Products companies that differentiate on consumer engagement will see results.  However, to do this and effectively execute much of what Gary is describing, companies must have the capabilities to create actionable insights from all their consumer data – syndicated, POS, loyalty, coupon, survey data and social media.  It is only then that mobility, trade promotions and again social media can be effectively used to engage consumers.  In our experience, and based on some recent research using our Analytics and Insight Indicator, we believe that most Consumer Products companies are not yet efficiently using available data to create the ideal level of intimacy with their consumers. And, without an understanding of the consumer, even “no brainer” investments like social media will not pay off in the end.