A roundup of technology-driven tools that drive consumer understanding, engagement and conversion on every step of the path to purchase.
Coca-Cola made it official: I’m a loyal fan, according to an email from their Digital Programs website. As a result, I was among the first to know about the “Coca-Cola Insiders Club,” which was set to launch on Dec. 16, 2019, at 11 a.m. EDT sharp (so sharp that they even sent me a digital calendar reminder). Starting in January and over the following six months, I and 999 other “Insiders” were invited to receive a limited-edition “Innovation Box” at home containing three new beverages – some before they hit the marketplace – along with surprises and “swag” to unbox. Membership was opened to U.S. residents, 18 and older, who either prepay $50 or pay $10 a month for the six boxes, contents to be selected by The Coca-Cola Co. in its sole discretion. Sadly, I dawdled before logging on, and within just 45 minutes the website landing page announced that the club was full and I was put on a waiting list
“Pinterest Shop,” a new shopping “profile” hand-curated by Pinterest staffers, was launched on Small Business Saturday, Nov. 30. The launch featured 17 diverse, mission-driven small businesses that uploaded their product catalogs onto Pinterest, which automatically converted them into hundreds of shoppable Product Pins. Pinterest executives say that as a visual discovery engine – and taking extra pains to assert that it’s “not a social network” – its Pinners shop with a different mindset. Execs cite survey data claiming that 48% of Pinterest users find and shop, a level of activity that surpasses Facebook (considered its closest rival for shopper attention), where it’s claimed that only 14% of users shop. According to the same survey, retail brands see a two-times-higher return on advertising spend with Pinterest and 1.3-times-higher return than from traditional search.
Facebook has released a new market research app, dubbed “Facebook Viewpoints,” that rewards users who take part in various surveys, tasks and product trials. The downloadable Viewpoints App will ask users for the basics – name, email address, country of residence, date of birth and gender – as well as other bits like their location, depending on the individual program. Payment is sent directly to the user’s PayPal account. Per a Nov. 25 announcement by Erez Naveh, product manager, the insights gathered will also be applied to Instagram, WhatsApp, Portal and Oculus. The first announced survey will address social media’s impact on personal well-being. Naveh says the program won’t share individual Viewpoints activity on Facebook without permission nor “sell your information from this app to third parties.” However, the fine print says that Facebook reserves the right to share with “Trusted Research Partners,” defined as “advertisers, publishers, programming networks, and other entities studying consumer behavior and audience measurement.”
At the fringes of the IoT, we find lots of new “thingies” for the Internet. This month we bring you PantryOn, touted as a new class of app-centric household appliances, according to this Paramount, California-based startup. PantryOn is designed for monitoring household goods via a mobile app that enables real-time viewing and management of goods; it’s said to be capable of generating shopping lists with an in-app purchase option. It was scheduled to make its market debut in January at CES 2020.
Bitcoin skeptics take note: Lolli, a rewards site and browser extension that enables shoppers to earn bitcoin for buying on its partner-merchants’ sites, has in less than 18 months signed up more than 900 retailers. And a lot of them are household names: Walmart, Best Buy, Petco, Office Depot/OfficeMax, Macy’s, Ulta, Sephora, Nike, Harry’s – just about everyone short of Amazon and Target. The retail partner determines the reward percentage and then either pays Lolli a flat fee or a cut of each sale that comes to them via the web plug-in. Lolli is not a tool for paying with bitcoin as very few major e-commerce sites actually accept bitcoin as payment. (Overstock.com is the most notable exception). But it does represent a step toward all-digital commerce. If you’re not familiar with “Satoshis,” start brushing up now.
SPOTLIGHT: Trade Promotion Management
What’s “third wave coffee”? It’s a movement that considers coffee an artisanal food that, like wine, is worthy of connoisseurship and exploration. So sit back, relax and savor, right? Hardly. Last fall, one of the third wave’s pioneers, Philadelphia-based La Colombe Coffee Roasters, kicked its business into high gear by adopting CPGToolBox’s Trade Planner to plan, track and settle all aspects of the TPM cycle, using a solution that’s built on the Salesforce Lightning Platform. High-speed process automation might seem out of step for a slow roaster of single-origin coffees that’s committed to ethical, long-term trade practices with growers. But La Colombe also has one of the segment’s fastest growing ready-to-drink beverage brands, Draft Latte, considered the first-ever “textured cold” latte. Introduced in a canned version in 2016, La Colombe already is contending with more than 55,000 points of distribution nationwide, managing complex trade promotion activities with a diverse set of retail partners ranging from Walmart, Target and Meijer to CVS, 7-Eleven and Albertsons, plus a wide variety of cafes, hotels and restaurants. The Trade Planner solution gives La Colombe real-time insights to improve its forecasting, manage and settle deductions quickly, and track overall trade spend effectiveness. Another benefit: All of the trade spend data captured by CPGToolBox’s Trade Planner integrated with La Colombe’s existing business intelligence tools.
Like it or not, say experts, the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” is already underway via disruptive technologies such as AI, blockchain, IoT and 3-D printing. Salesforce is trying to catch that wave with the “Consumer Goods Cloud,” made generally available in October 2019. Consumer Goods Cloud is part of the Customer 360 Platform and will enable FMCG company reps to use AI to optimize promotion execution and order management. “Einstein Analytics for Consumer Goods,” being made available this month, is designed to give reps out-of-the-box KPIs such as inventory stock outs or percent orders increase per store visit, as well as AI-powered insights and recommendations specifically tailored to their customers. Inside the store, reps have access to customizable templates based on store or segment types. This mobile device helps ensure that specific store needs are met, from inventory and planogram checks to return order processing and surveys. Salesforce claims that with Einstein Vision, when field reps take a photo of a retail display, a machine-learning algorithm will gauge whether the products are placed correctly and help with inventory control, eliminating manual counting and paper records. This AI functionality is said to be able to make predictive decisions on whether a store is fulfilling its promise to the CPG manufacturer and whether adjustments are necessary. Accenture is the pilot partner in the development and launch of Consumer Goods Cloud, as it complements its Cloud TPM Salesforce-based solution, designed to unlock data silos across sales, trade and consumer marketing. PwC is a design pilot partner.
NOTE: Bill Schober is Editor Emeritus of Path to Purchase IQ. He’s been associated with the Institute since 1994, covering all aspects of consumer marketing with a special emphasis on the shopping experience. He welcomes any questions, comments, requests or pitches about P2P Toolkit, and can be reached at [email protected]