As powerful a marketing medium as the internet is, its potential for targeting and engaging traditional supermarket shoppers, predominantly mothers, is at best variable for fmcg brands seeking to gain new customers and sell products.
This is because everyday fmcg brands in the foods, beverages, petfood, household and personal care categories are typically low involvement purchases requiring little more than momentary thought before consumers add them to their trolleys.
High-involvement products and services are considerably different by their very nature. An individual who is about to part with serious money to buy a new car or new washing machine will take their time, do their research online and evaluate the options and promotions that are available to ensure that they get the best deal.
However, fmcg brands face a far tougher challenge getting consumers to engage with them online. Despite this, nearly every fmcg brand now has its own website, which it seeks to actively promote, yet consumers don't typically have the interest, time or desire to visit it.
This begs the question: do some fmcg brands have false expectations and do they really understand how their customers behave online?
Apart from the rare few such as Coca-Cola and Unilever that are starting to use social media sites such as Facebook, when it comes to online marketing, fmcg brands are still curiously reluctant to engage with consumers outside their own website. Brands seem to prefer to invest in independently driving consumers to their own websites, even though it's often more costly, because they own and control the relationship with the consumer.
Not only is this 'control-freak' approach out of sync with a consumer's desire to interact with fmcg brands online, it's also a comparatively expensive and labour-intensive method of reaching and engaging consumers.
Jo Malvern is BeforeIshop product and marketing director at Couponstar.