Kicking Off Jumpshot’s World Tour – Insights On CPG Brands From Chicago

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It was exciting to kick off our Jumpshot Fall 2019 World Tour in Chicago last week.  A great audience at our eCommerce breakfast event, in conjunction with our colleagues at the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA).  We had an overflowing room – the most well-attended breakfast event the MMA has produced – and we’ve got New York and Boston coming up soon.  Check out our Events page for the deets…

In Chicago, our presentation focused on The State of eCommerce, and our latest insights on Digital Paths to Purchase – with a particular focus on Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG).

Chicago & the Midwest: America’s CPG Epicenter

Chicago, and the Midwest more generally, is a great place for a CPG close-up because it is home to so many great CPG brands.  ConAgra, Kraft Heinz, Mondelez International, Quaker Oats, and Wrigley are all headquartered in Chicago, and between them produce over 100 well-known brands.  Expanding slightly in the Midwest, Proctor & Gamble (Cincinnati) and Tyson Foods (Springdale, Arkansas) aren’t far away.

(If we expanded beyond CPG, we’d see that Chicago is home to many other classic brands – including McDonald’s, Walgreens, Ace Hardware, State Farm, Boeing, and Ulta. Many of these share the solid utilitarian excellence of the heartland’s great CPG brands – kind of a marketing equivalent of Big Ten football – but that’s a story for another blog post.)

The Enduring Power of Brands

All of which brings me to my biggest take-away from our Chicago event – the enduring power of brands.  Some have predicted the death of brands in an Alexa-driven world.  Maybe someday, but we clearly aren’t there yet.  My conversations with our clients and prospects in Chicago reinforced what our data shows – that brands continue to resonate with consumers.

Consider two examples…

Roll Tide

Yes – Roll Tide — that’s another football reference – nice catch!  And that’s also a football reference!  Sorry, it’s fall and I’m punchy.  But seriously folks, it doesn’t get much more “Classic CPG” than Tide.  The category of laundry detergent itself is pretty classic CPG – a universally purchased and seemingly low-engagement category.

How differentiated can the brands in this category really be?  Quite a lot, it turns out, at least in the minds of consumers (and for marketers, that’s what matters). Tide was introduced in 1946, and quickly became the world’s leading brand in the laundry detergent category.  In 2009, as Americans grappled with the Great Recession, a survey found that Tide was among the top three brands that consumers wouldn’t want to give up.

Today, despite generally being at a price premium, we find that Tide leads in share of digital transactions, just as it does in offline transactions.  And it leads in loyalty metrics as well.  Only about one-in-five Tide shoppers explore other brands online – a figure that’s about one-in-three for competing brands.

Energizer Just Keeps Going, and Going, and Going…

Another classic CPG category – household batteries.  It is as seemingly utilitarian as one can get, with performance distinctions among brands very difficult to discern.  The category is often cited as one where AmazonBasics has taken over, a harbinger of things to come as Amazon pivots beyond being a marketplace to also being a house of brands.  And make no mistake – AmazonBasics is a powerful force in the category.  But online, it’s no longer number one…

The Energizer brand has Midwest roots, dating to 1899, and is headquartered today in St. Louis.  In 2017, it was neck-and-neck with AmazonBasics – it pulled ahead in the holiday season of that year and has maintained the top position since.

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To paraphrase Mark Twain, the death of brands has been greatly exaggerated.  They continue to resonate with consumers, even in the most utilitarian of CPG categories.  That includes many brands born and sold in the heartlands, like Chicago…

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