We were thrilled to attend our very first Digital Food and Beverage conference last week in Austin! Not only did we get to catch up with over 270 of our star clients and partners and connect with a lot of new folks, but best of all, we were able to hear the latest insights, trends and disruptive innovation in the digital food and beverage space.
Weren’t able to make it to Austin last week? We’re happy to share a quick recap — here are our top 5 takeaways and most memorable moments (be sure to check out the armadillos!)
1. Owning the Omnichannel: Melding the Digital and Physical Worlds from Online to Offline
Omnichannel unsurprisingly dominated presentations and was consistently highlighted throughout across keynotes, and both tracks of afternoon breakout sessions. As more and more consumers are now blending a traditionally brick and mortar activity into the digital world, brands and retailers alike are now faced with the new challenge of ensuring consistent consumer journeys across a broad range of platforms.
- “ROBO”: Researching Online, Buying Offline – before customers hit the store aisles, many beverage companies like Robert Mondavi and Anheuser-Busch InBev, who may have limitations on direct to consumer online purchases, aim to differentiate their product through online education, as well as those aiming to define new product categories, like PepsiCo startup “Drinkfinity” and Avocados from Mexico.
- Complex, multilayered customer journeys now stretch across “click to collect,” through online order delivery services like Instacart, Doordash, Peapod and Shipt, online direct to consumer, mobile app powered digital store circulars and digital promotions used both natively or loaded to store loyalty cards.
- How are brands and retailers coping? Despite the new complexity tied to the rise of digital eCommerce – the answer goes back to the basics: the right product, at the right place, at the right price, at the right time.
2. “The Instagram Effect”: The Importance of Rich Content
As consumers scroll for products across numerous digital eCommerce platforms, brands must now account for marketing a product that can’t be picked up, examined, smelled or sampled. Ensuring beautiful, aesthetically pleasing product photos and descriptions to engage consumers on the “digital shelf” is just the most obvious of many engagement tactics.
On both the retailer and brand sides, creating moments of “inspiration” require staying on top of trends to drive sales. Some of these tactics range from:
- Shoppable Recipes – digitally “packaged” and easily ready to be added to cart
- Brand partnered and sponsored meal kits – catering to a simple out of the box, delicious, “anyone can do it” meal solution for busy individuals or families.
- Leveraging social influencers – tapping busy mommy bloggers to amateur chefs, paid social campaigns that enable measurable sales lift are championed by companies like Quotient’s own Ahalogy!
3. Leveraging Martech and AI in Designing the Customer Journey
With the average human’s attention span now shorter than a goldfish’s, ensuring a frictionless user experience and ultimate path to purchase requires leveraging new technology and careful attention to a plethora of new details.
- Helping guide consumers to what they want and need through seamless, quick and easy to navigate interfaces is key to optimizing user experience and driving sales.
- Optimizing discoverability – the often overlooked but essential art and science of optimizing keywords, meta tags and employing paid ads are vital in elevating products on retailer pages and in search listings.
- Elevating email — Kenji Gjovig, Albertson’s eCommerce Marketing and Merchandising VP, highlighted the re-design of their email templates to be more dynamic, enabling content and promotions that could be personalized and content swapped in real time based on individual shopper data, driving exponential growth in their email engagement rates.
- Leveraging trends data — companies with emerging products and new product categories, like CAVU Ventures and Thrive Market, evaluate spikes in search google keywords like “sensory trends,” “ingredients,” “flavors,” and “diets,” to help shape their product development, planning, messaging and launches. Other companies rely on platforms like The Muse to access more comprehensive intelligence on trends data from both current and historical perspectives.
4. “The Customer is Always Right”: The Ever-Growing Importance of Consumer Listening
With the rise of digital eCommerce, customer feedback is now enabled 24/7, and companies able to receive and respond to feedback in real time. This feedback now stretches beyond customer reviews, embedding itself into many steps of both a company and product’s marketing journey.
Tim Madigan from Tyson Foods highlighted their “new” marketing funnel, linking a continuous loop of bottom of the funnel consumer community reviews and feedback feeding back up to the top. Tyson integrates ongoing customer feedback into the product development process — adjusting formulations, creating new recipes and making overall adjustments to optimize and develop a better product results for continuously engaged (and repeat purchase) consumers.
- Unconventional approaches to product development — PepsiCo’s “Drinkfinity” – a new product aimed at reducing plastic bottle waste and disrupting beverage industry, used an “anti one-way mirror” market research community of influencer “Alphas.” Convening in an LA WeWork, the group’s ongoing discussions and resulting feedback contributed to the evolution of the Drinkfinity product – and 1000+ donated hours.
- Taking monitoring reviews a step further, tech platforms like Influenster, BazaarVoice and The Muse enable CPG Brands to engage with their respective communities of reviewers and online influencers for continuous real-time reviews, ratings and insights from their consumers.
5. Our Most Memorable Moments:
Quotient CMO Jason Young brought solid insights and great energy to the stage — “New Paradigms for CPG/Retail Digital Commerce Marketing” — showcased not only the evolution of digital conversion marketing, but actual impressive results from real campaigns for brands. He even fit in humor about being seasoned enough to witness the evolution of digital advertising from the very beginning (AT&T’s first ever banner ad circa 1994) while also giving a nod to the anniversary of the first moon landing!
- Using physical footprints to create digital experiences – Ellen Duncan from Coca-Cola and Ivonne Kinsen from Avocados from Mexico’s compelling fireside chat about the challenges of blending the physical environment with the digital world and as well as how to approach marketing an entire fresh produce category was definitely one of our favorites! From cup scanning and “design your own coke” machines at movie theaters, to creating POS QR codes linked extensive libraries of educational and inspirational digital content to drive demand for avocados shed light on many of the brand footprints we’ve probably already seen in person.
Finally, there’s no way we could not mention the ARMADILLOS! (no, not a joke.) Apparently armadillo racing is a local Austin pastime and was front and center at the day one reception. Did you know that they sleep 20-22 hours a day, love eating cantaloupe and are technically their own species group?
Thanks for reading — we hope you enjoyed the recap and we hope to catch you at our next event! We’ll be exhibiting at NACDS’ Total Store Expo (TSE) at the Boston Convention Center, August 25th – 26th. Please feel free to set up a meeting with us by emailing [email protected]
Be sure to check out the Quotient Blog for more updates — until next time!