Female customer uses mobile phone in supermarket

Quotient Partners with Nielsen to Discuss Thriving through Disruption

From the rise in eCommerce, to the adoption of digital promotions, to changing demographics in households and consumer groups, COVID-19 has disrupted multiple areas of the grocery-retail marketplace. As a result, advertisers and retailers have had to rethink how they interact with consumers across every touchpoint.

Quotient’s VP of Data Client Partnerships, Geoff McHale, teamed up with Nielsen’s VP of Digital Audience Measurement, Matthew Devitt, to discuss “Thriving Through Disruption: A New Playbook for CPG & Retail Advertisers.” The webinar also featured special guest Forrester’s VP and Principal Analyst, Sucharita Kodali. Read on to discover their top insights for how advertisers and retailers can create lasting brand strategies that are resilient to change.

Brands Can Drive Meaningful Change

As we’ve seen throughout 2020, advertisers and retailers have a crucial role to play in creating meaningful change. Whether it’s donating money to support consumers during the pandemic or supplying much-needed personal protective equipment (PPE) to frontline healthcare workers, companies have the power to support the communities around them and drive meaningful change.

In fact, consumers actually want to buy from brands that support causes and interests similar to their own. It boils down to the need for brands to understand their consumers. McHale broke that understanding down into three main categories:

  • Understanding consumers from a data standpoint
  • Learning more about their buying habits
  • Adopting the new normal, which McHale defined as the shift to private label and the adoption of digital coupons.

The shift to private label was catalyzed by product shortages during the beginning stages of the pandemic. According to McHale, as consumers lean more into private label, that behavior has the potential to become permanent—aka the new normal for consumers. That leaves brands with the question of how to engage with consumers who are open to change and open to trialing new products. The shift towards digital coupons also helps drive strategy because brands can use data to inform their targeting in a way that isn’t possible with the legacy print free-standing insert (FSI).

Female customer with basket of fruits uses mobile phone in supermarket. Woman in food store

COVID-19 Accelerated the Growth of the Digital Economy

While eCommerce was growing before the pandemic, Coronavirus pushed the digital economy to new heights. McHale believes that the continued adoption of eCommerce will come down to nurturing the consumer for their ideal environment and making it a highly personalized experience. That’s where the hybrid retail model comes in. Many consumers want the flexibility to use a mix of online and offline grocery retail services; embracing hybrid shopping allows brands to serve both camps.

Data: Quality Over Quantity

With this acceleration of the digital economy comes access to a much larger selection of consumer data. But not all data is created equal. Despite the fact that there’s more data than ever before, Devitt believes that brands should focus their data efforts on consumer intelligence that can be collected in a private and consent-compliant way, that reflects unbiased behavior that is relevant to their given brand and that is rooted in actual persistent forms of identity. That is how brands can turn their data initiative into one of quality over quantity.

“The risk of poor consumer data is bias, and the risk of bias is bad decision making.”

Matthew Devitt, VP of Digital Audience Measurement at Nielsen

Data is also critical to enabling advertisers and retailers to thrive. According to McHale, advertiser data has traditionally been around segmentation, clustering and demographics. All of which are important to inform how brands think about the “buyer.” But because we now have access to so many different kinds of data, the situation has shifted to getting data that helps brands understand buyers rather than using demographics to try to reach a specific type of person.

“You are what you buy.”

Geoff McHale, VP of Data Client Partnerships at Quotient

McHale also pointed out that buying tends to follow similar patterns, whether it’s organic products, luxury goods or even certain dietary restrictions. While COVID may have changed the brands that consumers buy, their overall product affinities remain consistent. McHale believes that brands need to build the right data-driven approach to understand who their buyer is and increase penetration. This will allow them to create a shift based on what buyers look like and what they’re doing as opposed to guessing their audience based on segmented data.

In terms of the measurement and optimization of media spend, brands should continue partnering together. Measurement will have to be flexible in how it supports advertisers and retailers respectively because they have different goals. These goals can also vary by campaign. In the spirit of acquiring quality consumer data, consumer acquisition and data acquisition is an outcome in and of itself. McHale believes that audience reach measurement will continue to be fundamental for advertisers and retailers, but outcome metrics will need to remain flexible so they can remain meaningful to both parties.

How Can Brands Build Smart Strategies That Are Resilient to Change

The session closed with all three panelists sharing their thoughts on how advertisers and retailers can build smart brand strategies that are resilient to change. Data emerged as a common theme for retailers and advertisers looking to manage the disruption brought by COVID. Not only should this data be relevant to and representative of consumers—brands also need to understand the rich data they have access to in order to better understand their consumer base.

To learn more about Quotient’s approach to thriving through disruption using data-led marketing, contact us at [email protected].