• Insights

The New Rules for Reaching Today’s CPG Buyers

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, trips to grocery and drug stores might have become fewer and further in between, but basket sizes and dollars spent per shopping session are up considerably. Indeed, the pandemic has had an interesting impact on the resilient CPG space, where many categories that were in decline experienced sudden and sustained growth. For many CPG categories—including cleaners and disinfectants, baking items, canned and dry goods, and frozen foods—new buyers have been an important growth driver, and continuing to engage these new buyers going forward will be key to sustained success.

As part of Samba TV’s ongoing partnership with Catalina, we recently integrated CPG shopper insights with TV viewership data to understand how CPG brands can better connect with new category shoppers during the COVID-19 era. As presented in our latest webinar, the results of our analysis were intriguing. In addition to new shopping habits, consumers’ TV viewing behaviors have been equally disrupted by the pandemic—which means reliance on historical viewer data to reach new groups of shoppers just doesn’t work anymore. 

Consider the following: 

  • Overall linear TV viewing for new buyers in the soup category held steady between February and April, but the type of TV content changed as they spent significantly more time watching news networks and youth entertainment networks. Five of the top 10 shows consumed (highest indexing shows compared to the US overall) by new soup buyers in April were not on their top 10 list in February. Also, seven of the top 10 networks consumed by new soup buyers in April were not on their top 10 list in February. 

  • New buyers in the vitamin category increased their overall linear TV viewing between February and April by 2.4%, but the type of TV content they watched also changed. Six of the top 10 shows consumed by these buyers were not on their top 10 list in February, and eight of their top 10 networks in April were not on their top 10 list in February. 

  • New buyers in the disinfectant category increased their linear TV viewing between February and April by 4.9%, across all categories except sports. Eight of the top 10 shows consumed by new disinfectant buyers in April were not on their top 10 list in February, and four of their top 10 networks in April were not on their top 10 list in February. 

The dramatic shift in viewing habits noted above clearly demonstrates that marketing success in the future requires closely watching the new buyers to your brands and categories, evaluating their media behaviors, and optimizing your ad campaign to ensure that you’re reinforcing their purchase behavior. The bottom line is that you can’t assume that the new CPG product buyers of today have the same media consumption as buyers pre-COVID.

One way to implement this strategy is real-time optimization, which Samba TV and Catalina tested by a simulated optimization against our new vitamin category buyer target. For this test, we assumed that a vitamin brand spent $2.1 million in national TV ads at a household CPM of just over $22. For that budget, the brand received 77 household GRPs (gross ratings points, i.e., the percentage of the target market reached multiplied by the exposure frequency). It also did pretty well against the new vitamin category buyer target, receiving 9% more GRPs for the target. But while that 9% increase looked good, the reality is that there were many networks that did a better job of reaching the new vitamin category buyer target. Networks that generated potential 20-30% increases included ESPN, Discovery, Univision and Telemundo.

With these learnings in mind, we simulated what would happen if we cut budget from the networks that barely over-delivered to our purchase target and moved those dollars to some of the networks that performed better, including the four mentioned above. The overall budget stayed the same, but the results were significantly different:

  • The reallocated schedule actually had a lower household CPM than the original schedule—14% lower. Who doesn’t like a lower CPM?
  • More importantly, the reallocated schedule delivered 24% more GRPs against our new category buyer target—all for the same budget.

The combined power of Catalina and Samba TV to operate off of viewership and purchase behavior data in nearly real time gives brands the opportunity to identify and capitalize on opportunities. In the current media environment, shopper and viewer behaviors are in a constant state of flux. Within these shifting patterns lies a great deal of opportunity for savvy brands that commit to identifying and reacting to meaningful shifts as they happen.


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