Investing in the Future of Food: Retailers expect all brands to sell & connect with consumers online

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Investing in the Future of Food online marketing Digital marketing ecommerce

Selling direct-to-consumer online either through a branded website or trusted ecommerce retailer has emerged in recent years as way for startups to prove a concept and lay the groundwork for eventual brick-and-mortar distribution, but this once nice-to-have strategy increasingly is becoming a must-have for both new and established brands alike.

Online marketing platform RangeMe’s senior VP of marketing and sales Brandon Leong explains in this episode for FoodNavigator-USA’s Investing in the Future of Food that ‘going digital’ is the biggest emerging trend he sees at the retail and brand level of the food and beverage industry. He also shares what is driving the trend, as well as advice for how brands can make the biggest impact online and where they should focus their energy.

“In the past year, brands are starting to finally realize – both established and young – that if they don’t go digital, if they don’t have a digital presence, if they are not marketing outside of physical marketing … they are going to find it very difficult to continue penetrating the market they are in,”​ Leong said.

He added that retailers are expecting brands of all sizes to be online to share their story and earn their own customers – a concept that may not be as familiar to larger, established brands as it is to startups. But the reality is large brands are losing one or two SKUs at a time to smaller brands that use their online presence to capture consumers’ attention and create brand awareness.

The Amazon factor

As established and new brands start to explore online sales, Leong says the most frequent questions he hears are related to Amazon and when and how to best leverage the platform.

He explained that selling on Amazon will not detract consumers from purchasing a brand direct from the company’s website. Rather, it likely will drive more shoppers to the brand and raise their awareness of the company because consumers may spot something for the first time on Amazon, but then they search for the company’s website for more information.

While Amazon may be a must-have, many brands struggle with knowing which other platforms on which they need a presence in order to maximize their online strategy, Leong said.

‘Aim small, miss small’

To make the most of the digital marketing and sales space, Leong recommends that brands take a bite-sized approach.

“My advice, specifically for brands that are getting into the digital space is to aim small, miss small. Start with a channel, learn how to optimize it. Something you are comfortable with. If you are already on Instagram and doing very, very well then start testing some ad spend. Start figuring out whether or not you can drive traffic through Instagram by spending a little money,”​ he said.

He explained the best way to figure out how much money to spend on digital is trial and error. He recommended testing different advertising packages and then measuring how much traffic they return. That will give brands a better idea of their cost per acquisition, which they can then use as a benchmark for future investment.

Test one item at a time

Given how much of trial and error goes into creating a digital strategy, Leong stresses brands should only try and measure one aspect at a time.

“My second piece of advice is focus on one thing,”​ he said. “For example, if you have a very, very robust email marketing strategy”​ test either open rate, click through rate or conversion rate – not all three at once.

“Don’t touch anything else! Focus on that one metric,”​ and a clearer picture of the brand’s conversion rate on the company’s website will emerge, he said.




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