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How the Food and Beverage Industry is Making Things Personal

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When we took the time to look at the transformation of the food and beverage industry earlier this summer, we asked a crucial question—can food and beverage companies bridge the gap between online and offline marketing?
While we offered a few examples of companies succeeding in engaging with increasingly digital consumers from the offline space—the “Share a Coke” campaign and the “PepsiMoji” campaign—the truth is that many companies haven’t figured out how to establish a personal connection with their consumers.

Personalization is a critical success factor that players of all sizes are attempting to incorporate into their products and business models. However, they haven’t yet hit the magical formula, as the concept of mass marketed F&B often comes across as the opposite of personalized.

Package Personalization Is Widespread, Yet Lacking

Some retailers and consumer packaged goods companies are finding success by personalizing their actual products (bespoke personalization). However, package personalization is currently the most simple and scalable way for food and beverage companies to deliver the kind of experience today’s consumers expect.

While the “Share a Coke” campaign is the classic example of package personalization, it’s far from the only one:

  • Heinz launched the MyHeinz ecommerce channel to allow consumers to create custom labels for their ketchup bottles.
  • Kellogg’s started their “Photo-on-a-Box” project to let their customers put personal pictures on boxes for Pop-Tarts, Cheez-Its and various cereals.
  • Absolut Vodka started the “Absolut Unique” campaign to create 4 million unique bottles of their vodka, changing their production processes to offer differentiated, colorful designs.

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These campaigns, however, have been available for years. You may not recall or recognize them because they are almost a standard. For food and beverage companies to truly capture digital consumers, personalization must run deeper.

Three Different Ways to Personalize your Products

Recent research regarding global packaging trends from Mintel found that 61% of consumers in the United States feel more positive about a brand when marketing messages are personalized. However, this level of trust is built from truly personal offerings rather than mass-produced packaging.

There are three distinct degrees of product and service personalization that food and beverage companies can experiment with to meet the demands of their digital customers:

  • Mass Personalization: Though products are mass produced, companies can modify them to meet specific customer preferences based on existing data.
  • Mass Customization: Products are still mass produced, but customers have options to customize the products/services themselves (M&M's have been doing this for years)
  • Bespoke: This is a deeper level of personalization than the mass-produced options. Here, consumers are involved in the development process from beginning to end to create a truly unique product with genuine engagement from consumers.
According to David Luttenberger, Global Packaging Director for Mintel, “There’s a parallel path between brands striving to engage customers on a more personal level and consumers’ expectations for packaging to deliver that experience.”

As the digital revolution continues to take shape, basic packaging personalization will become the norm as opposed to a true differentiator in the market. To avoid becoming a commodity, companies must harness the power of big data to better-target their personalization efforts.

Using big data to track demographic, geographical and consumer behavior metrics is what will make bespoke personalization a reality for leading food companies. In today’s mass-produced packaging personalization reality, campaigns like “Share a Coke” create designs without user input, leaving the companies with a quick bump in sales without creating a true relationship with their consumers.

Before you can start reaching deeper levels of personalization, you have to solve the big data challenge. You have more consumer data than ever at your fingertips—you just have to find ways to use it to empower personalization.

If you want to learn how you can use big data to your advantage in the increasingly digital food and beverage industry, contact Signals Analytics for a free demo of the Signals Playbook™.


Written by Erin Stavi unknown-1593201492861-1

Erin Stavi is a Food & Beverage Senior Customer Success Manager at Signals Analytics, a Decision Science as a Service company, that enables global organizations to continuously experience the “aha moment” through Signals Playbook™, a cloud-based analytical intelligence platform that transforms the world’s unconnected data into actionable insights to enhance customer experience, optimize product portfolio health and propel innovation. Erin is a seasoned partner to Food & Beverage companies, devoting years to working hand-in-hand with leading F&B companies such as Kellogg and MillerCoors. She has a background in market research/analytics with a passion for growth and hunger for winning consumer preference.

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Chris Thatcher
5W Public Relations 646-430-5161
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