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How FMCG can make the most of data capture

Traditionally, FMCG brands have failed to a greater extent to use the direct channel for engaging customers, especially direct mail, writes Jon Reid, managing director at Mercier Gray Live.

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This has resulted in continued use of mass-market advertising and an inability of FMCG brands to capture customer data and research their customers in-depth to build brand loyalty and long-term customer relationships.

In 2003 in the UK, spend on experiential marketing rose by 27% and is now worth £350m. This provides brands with a perfect opportunity to get more involved in direct activity and capture more meaningful customer data.

There's no doubt that mass-market advertising is great for building brand awareness, but in the current environment FMCG brands need to deliver integrated campaigns that connect with their customers across all channels.

Often brand experience or sampling is planned in isolation without being integrated into the overall communication strategy. Brand experience should be seen as a vital component in engaging with the consumer on the ground and we need to see more planners putting brand experience on clients' media schedules.

The face-to-face interaction between a brand and customer should be the very start of the customer journey or relationship, which is then built upon to deliver "real" customer value. However, so many brands seem to just use face-to-face marketing to sample products and then they abandon any future dialogue or relationship.

FMCG brands should be taking this opportunity to capture as much customer data at the point of contact and continue the brand experience by following the campaign with a phone call, email or DM piece and then use this data to cross-sell other product and brand variants or promote special offers.

If a brand is product sampling a new product and consumers' trial the product and respond well to it, their details should be recorded and future communication sent to promote the brand. These consumers are a captive audience, who have interacted with the brand so are hot pickings for future development.

The data captured through experiential is also a very powerful source of information and can also be used for market research purposes to examine for example, if the exposed consumers have purchased the product as a result of the brand experience campaign, or have recalled it.

This feedback can be used to inform and enhance future campaigns. It can also be used to gain consumer feedback and gauge feeling or opinions about the brand.

I sometimes wonder if FMCG marketers have forgotten the principles of CRM? Or is it that they don't have the systems and tools in place internally to be able to segment their customer database in such detail to deliver specific campaigns?

Brands are constantly fighting to create relationship with consumers, but when experiential marketing presents the perfect opportunity most brands do not seize the initiative to extend the communication as part of a CRM strategy.

With experiential marketing, the consumer has had personal face-to-face contact with the brand and has given permission for the brand to communicate with them on a personal one-to-one level. Surely, this is what every marketer should aspire to achieve?

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