Search Marketing Key to Offline CPG Sales and Brand Building: Study

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Search Marketing Key to Offline CPG Sales and Brand Building: Study

RESTON, Va. -- Internet searches appear to be a significant marketing opportunity for consumer packaged goods brands, according to findings from a major research study by comScore, Inc. here.

For the study, "The Digital Shelf: the Opportunity for Search Marketing in Consumer Packaged Goods,"comScore said it analyzed the role of online search in generating Web site traffic for the packaged food, baby care, personal care, and home care categories.

The study was conducted in collaboration with Procter & Gamble, Yahoo!, and the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO) to help the CPG industry better understand how to increase sales through search marketing.

"While search marketing has long been recognized as an effective direct response vehicle, it's been largely overlooked by CPG companies, who focus on brand advertising and promotional efforts to drive in-store purchasing," noted SEMPO chairman Gord Hotchkiss in a statement. "This study seeks to demonstrate the potential brand-building impact of search for CPG marketers."

The study found that a majority of U.S. consumers visited Web sites for CPG product categories during the three months ending April 2007, with search driving a considerable percentage of visitors in all of the categories. Food products represented the biggest search marketing opportunity, with almost 44 million category site visitors searching. Baby products reeled in 15.7 million searchers, followed by personal care products with 9.8 million and household products with 1.7 million.

The study further found that a large percentage of the visitors to category Web sites got there after a search query. Sixty percent of visitors to baby product sites arrived there following a search, 47 percent in food products, 27 percent in personal care products, and 23 percent in household products.

"It's evident that a significant search marketing opportunity exists for CPG companies," said comScore s.v.p. of media James Lamberti. "Brand managers should be placing more emphasis on this channel to influence the long-term health of their brands."

As part of the study, comScore undertook survey to discover the attitudes of visitors to CPG Web sites, dividing respondents into two groups: those who employ searched to find these sites and those who don't.

The survey showed that searchers were significantly more involved in obtaining information and demonstrated higher category engagement than those who didn't search. In particular, 73 percent of searchers were motivated by product research, 64 percent were looking for help with the purchase decision, 47 percent were seeking promotions, and just 29 percent were specifically looking for the company website. Conversely, nonsearchers' main motivation was to get information on promotions (59 percent), to do product research (58 percent) or to get help with their purchase decision (44 percent).

"Our deeper understanding of the motivations around search behavior underscores the opportunity to leverage search for more than just direct response marketing," observed Procter & Gamble search innovation manager Randy Peterson. "Search may be one of the most effective means of reaching qualified consumers when and where they are most receptive to learning about our brands. Ultimately this drives offline sales."