How to leverage digital marketing for FMCG brands

By Paul Morris
12/09/2012 note: View my updated FMCG Digital Marketing article on this very topic now rather than reading the below passe muck!

To begin with why bother leveraging digital marketing for FMCG brands?

Well firstly digital can be used as a great direct response tool, even for FMCG’s e.g. driving brochure requests, downloads, brand exposure, email subscriptions, sales (yes sales!), etc.

You need to be where your consumers are. As more key audiences go online, such as the key FMCG target market of Mums looking for reviews, ideas for the family, socialising, friend endorsements, help, etc you HAVE to be there.

Digital should not be used just for short term FMCG tactical campaigns involving microsites, games, video and virals but should also be used for longer term influence and engagement.

Digital has been proven in several studies, such as those by the European Interactive Advertising Association (EIAA), to massively help build FMCG brands (particularly in areas such as Facebook – have a look at how many people like/ love chocolate bars!)



Whilst SEO and PPC are hugely important in other industries e.g. retail the importance is certainly less in FMCG (but still present). Few people type in searches such as ‘5 star toilet paper’ however there are still key searches you need to optimise for such as brand, product name, product category, [your product] review, straplines, etc. Also remember to optimise for universal search (website, video, images, maps, product feeds, etc)


Nike+ is a great way of building a platform around your target audience and engaging with them. Whilst it’s difficult to achieve the level of Nike+ you can still create engaging platforms e.g. healthy recipes around your products.


Use digital as an amazing real time feedback loop to get suggestions from consumers and further improve your product and marketing activity (both on and offline). Companies such as Unilever have done this with crowdsourcing by engaging mums in contributing ideas for new products and its Peperami advertising ideas generator almost removed the need for a creative advertising agency.

Social Media

Outreach where appropriate (in terms of interjecting in relevant conversations) and also engage when your brand is being talked about online. Digital, particularly mobile, has become greatly integrated in to all our lives and increasingly people are turning to social search as a short cut to finding brands they can trust. Not only that but these brand mentions and inbound social links to your online properties result in you ranking better in the natural search results as well.

There are many cases of FMCG success stories in social media including Marmite using Facebook ad units, Pringles being huge on Facebook and the Cadbury Gorilla but also several still managing to mess things up e.g. Nestle with orang-utans.

Partner Sales

Do what P&G did by putting ‘where to buy’ links on its European websites to direct consumers to its own sites and to other partner sites including Amazon, Tesco and Boots.

Also make sure you partner, or at the very least engage, with influential customer portals. E.g. Mums on MumsNet.Com.

Behavioural targeted ads / contextual / DSG’s (demand side platforms)

Engage with the right audiences and optimise for your desired outcomes e.g. sales, sign ups, engagement, brochure requests, video views, etc.

Offline and online integration

Obvious advice is mentioning your url, facebook or twitter on packaging/ in adverts.

You should also be optimising for dual screening on laptops, tablets and mobiles so when people have been hit by your brand messages offline it is easy to find your brand online and make sure online ‘develops the story’ with more detailed information, videos, games, brochure downloads, etc.


Engaging with your current userbase with informative and fun information that keeps your brand at the forefront of their mind is key. McCain Foods did this well by improving not only open rates, click through rates and onsite dwell time but also engagement rates within certain hard to reach segments – in their case ‘brand resistors’. They also did some great measurement analysis to ascertain value from their ECRM campaigns (Details can be found on Felix Velarde’s site)

It’s also worthwhile outreaching and acquiring data to email. Whilst purchased/ renting lists rarely works for FMCG’s, if you engage with sites such as,, etc and offer competitions or free samples in return for the customers email address you do stimulate brand recall, product trials and thereafter have their information for ECRM campaigns.