Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: Online Shopping is Here to Stay
As we move steadily into 2022, it’s clear that consumers are online more than ever before.
- 88% of retailers are now selling online (Square)
- 40% of online revenue comes from social selling, for retailers selling on social media (Square)
- 47% of U.S. consumers expect COVID-19 to impact how they shop during holiday seasons (Google)
31% of U.S. shoppers started their holiday shopping in June of 2021 (Google)
The pandemic deepened our relationship with the online world. Consumers are now more likely to make online purchases as it becomes essential to stock up on necessities (hello, $30 pack of toilet paper), and in some cases, depend on online shopping for specific items (dog food, dental products, cleaning products, and more). The pandemic changed the way we shop.
It’s highly likely that online shopping will continue to grow in 2022, even among skeptical consumers, as the online buying journey becomes frictionless and more rewarding.
Let’s explore how the online shopping experience is changing for brands in 2022 and beyond, and how you can adjust your CPG marketing strategy to prepare for future Black Fridays, customers craving sustainability, and more.
In-App Shopping & Live Shopping on Social Media
If you’re an Instagram user, you’ve definitely noticed the shift the platform took this year. Instagram has enabled users to buy products while browsing their feeds, without ever leaving the app.
Over the summer, Facebook launched a Live Shopping Fridays: “Live Shopping on Facebook combines the fun of live video with the convenience of online shopping.” The Shopping tab, available in the app only, features products from brands like Sephora, Clinique, or Abercrombie. Digiday reported that Benefit Cosmetics was able to reach more than 1,000 viewers during a Live Shopping event on Facebook, double than what they usually see on Instagram. Last holiday season, Facebook expanded the program to bigger brands and saw the live shopping events to be highly successful.
Get To Know Your Consumers Better Than They Know Themselves
For brands that have a physical presence (brick and mortar stores), a surge of business for their e-commerce platforms means they can acquire new data about their consumers. As the demand for a personalized shopping experience increases, brands are investing more into their CRMs and turn to AI in order to build a relevant direct-to-consumer marketing strategy.
Investing in a CRM can do wonders for your business:
- Gives you customer and product/service insights
- Stay in touch with your customers along the purchase journey, with relevant messaging at the ideal moment
- CRMs like Salesforce Marketing Cloud have strong AI capabilities that allow you to time each interaction with your customers, saving you time and helps you build stronger relationships with them
Be Findable & Aim For A Delightful Online Shopping Experience
As competition has increased, guarantees like “free shipping”, “free returns”, “free trials” became the norm. “Free delivery” remains one of the main drivers for online purchasing.
Intuitive Digital Tip -> Make sure that these features are called out in your ads using Callout extensions, but also in your Google Business Profile (the new Google My Business). Build a solid email journey for customers who either abandoned their cart or just signed up to your newsletter (they want that 15% off coupon), and be sure to update them about sales and provide them with interesting content. Don’t be scared to experiment with emojis on your email subject lines.
Online is where new CPG brands can be discovered, meaning that it’s so important to be searchable and findable. Investing in search optimization and developing a robust online content strategy are key when it comes to scaling your business.
Intuitive Digital Tip -> When done correctly, throwing money into Facebook or Shopping ads is great to build awareness but do not underestimate the power of Search Engine Optimization. We recommend platforms like Shopify or WooCommerce for their SEO capabilities.
Black Friday And 2021 Trends
In 2020, online purchases went up 20% on Thanksgiving and 23% on Black Friday compared to 2019 (Salesforce). Walmart’s online sales grew by 28% compared to 2019. The amount of online shopping activity around the holidays has been growing consistently year over year, and we should be expecting the same for 2022.
According to consumer research tool GWI, in 2021:
- Baby Boomers planned to purchase clothes and gifts/presents both online and in-store, and personal electronics in-store.
- Gen Z and Gen Y planned to buy clothes, gifts/presents, personal electronics both online and in-store, and planned on getting personal care items in-store.
- Gen X is planned to buy clothes and gifts both online and in-store.
Last year, US consumers’ favorite retail giants Walmart and Target decided to close their doors on Thanksgiving with the goal of keeping their employees happy and safe (because you know, the pandemic). This further confirms that the focus is on their e-commerce platforms.
Digital Marketers Expected To Advertise Earlier For The Holiday Season
Online shoppers are adapting to continued supply chain issues and shipping delays by browsing and purchasing weeks, or sometimes months in advance.
Klarna, a consumer survey company, revealed in a recent report that:
- “Half of shoppers will be shopping earlier this year to ensure product availability”
- “45% said that shipping delays and supply chain issues were the reason for shopping early”
- Nearly 40% of them said they wanted to avoid the stress of last-minute gifting
- GenZ and Millenials constitute the biggest spending segments, as 57% of Gen Z and 53% of Millennials said they will spend more for the holiday season in 2021
For CPG brands this translates into starting your Black Friday advertising efforts at least a month in advance of the actual sale. Promotions and discount codes were sent out as early as November 1st last year. This means you need to be planning out your sales and preparing your creative sooner than you ever have before as well. Hence why we’re talking about this in January.
Another strategy is to notify your email subscribers about your upcoming online sales for Black Friday or Christmas. This builds up anticipation and allows online shoppers to plan ahead and allocate holiday spending towards specific items and your brand.
Sustainable & Green Products – An Ever-Growing Demand
According to a Global Web Index 2020 study, “72% of consumers across 20 countries said companies behaving sustainably was more important to them because of COVID-19”. Increased waste due to the pandemic quickly became a concern for consumers as plastic shoppings bags and PPE equipment forced their way into our daily lives.
We’re seeing a trend when it comes to more sustainable packaging, with companies innovating the way they source their packaging materials and puting sustainability at the forefront of their business.
When it comes to sustainability and purchasing, the notion of paying a premium for a better product is becoming more broadly accepted throughout the generations.
GreenPrint finds that:
- “75% of Millennials are willing to pay more for an environmentally sustainable product, compared to 63% of Gen Z, 64% of Gen X, and 57% of Boomers.”
- “76% of Americans would switch their preferred packaged goods brand if they were offsetting carbon emissions.”
In response, brands like Madewell are going a step further than recycling their old products. Consumers would be able to drop off old pairs of jeans in any store for an in-store credit. Now, you can shop for a pre-loved garment online from the brand.
Some will say it’s a step in the right direction, some might see it as another way for brands to make a profit. It’s not a secret that fast fashion is hurting the environment, and consumers are demanding more transparency and concrete actions from their favorite clothing brands. Or switching their shopping habits by thrifting or buying secondhand on Poshmark or Depop. Hence, the increase of slow fashion brands that are using sustainably sourced materials and do their best to produce and ship their goods in an eco-friendly manner.
Support Your Local Small Businesses
According to Google, 60% of U.S. consumers who are planning to shop for the holidays say they will shop more at local small businesses.
Intuitive Digital Tip -> Time to flush out your Google Business Profile and make sure your contact information, opening hours, links, and all that good stuff are up to date. Pairing your Local SEO efforts with a paid strategy will ensure that you’ll be found more easily than your competitors. We can help make that happen.
Google made online shopping even easier within their Shopping platform, allowing you to shop products from different vendors in one interface, with its own cart and checkout process.
Intuitive Digital Tip -> Run Google Shopping ads to boost online sales and increase your website traffic. Connect your Google Ads and your Google Merchant Center in order to run a Shopping campaign. This will allow your products to show on top of the results on the Shopping tab for example.
More Marketing Tools for CPG Brands
According to Retail Brew (an amazing newsletter that we recommend you subscribe to, if you work in retail), the next must-have job for retailers are TikTok influencers. Advertisers getting frustrated with Facebook and Instagram are turning to alternative channels like TikTok, Pinterest, Quora, or even Reddit. But let’s go back to TikTok for a sec.
TikTok for Hire
TikTok is a growing beast with 1.1 billion active users worldwide and is seeing more than 80M downloads every month. For lower CPCs, brands are able to tap into a different market of content-consumers. The amazing (and creepy) thing is that TikTok is very good at nailing down who their users are and what keeps them scrolling.
The format, the tone, the messaging: everything is different on TikTok. This is why brands turn to TikTok experts to create content for them in order to stay relevant or simply because they do not have the capacity to do it in-house. As mentioned in the Retail Brew article, CPG brands like Tula Skincare, Urban Outfitters, Briogeo, and Grove Collaborative are adding the nebulous platform to their media mix. See it for yourself.
Intuitive Digital Tip -> Post 4 to 10 times a day; it can be behind-the-scenes content, a partnership with an influencer, your marketing director or your best friend talking about your product, and don’t forget to jump on trends (as long as they’re relevant to your brand and make people go *chef’s kiss*).
It’s all about entertainment and thumb-stop video creatives. Post content in line with your brand but made with the users in mind; make them feel something. Use hashtags with 300K to 1 million views to not get lost in the crowd.
In terms of SEO, the best you can do is make sure the hashtags are relevant and don’t forget to post this content on other platforms. Yes, it’s a lot. And this is why companies are hiring people to do it for them!
According to a Global Web Index 2021 study that surveyed 5,056 fashion buyers in the US, UK, France & Germany, younger age groups (16-24, 25-34) say they wanted stores and retailers to offer QR codes in-store. QR codes were quickly adopted by restaurants and bars during the pandemic, in order to implement a fully contactless ordering and checkout process, and reduce the risk of contamination. The same report finds that “over 90% of shoppers want technology-based solutions to improve their retail experience”.
TLDR: CPG Marketing and Advertising Trends
The pandemic has permanently changed the way people of all generations shop. Moving more customers online and changing their expectations of that experience.
The continued supply chain and shipping issues have further compounded this, causing shoppers to think far ahead and purchase gifts months in advance to ensure they have them on hand when they need them.
The age-old holiday sales schedule and promotional timing you are used to no longer meet customers’ needs at the right time, and you need to adjust your marketing and advertising strategies to account for that.
Need help developing a full-funnel digital marketing strategy for your CPG brand? We got you!