Brand Innovators 2022 Outlook: CPG

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In the first installment of our new 2022 Outlook Series, Brand Innovators talk to CPG CMOs and marketing leaders for insights into what to expect next year, and how the category will innovate.

As CPG marketers look ahead to 2022, these brands are building on the transformations of the last two years in everything from digital innovation and ecommerce to purpose-based marketing and commitment to social justice.

“The volatility that most industries have experienced since the COVID-19 pandemic began won’t stop as we move into 2022,” said Zena Arnold, Chief Digital & Marketing Officer at Kimberly-Clark. “Data and technology will continue to play a critical role in our marketing, in everything from research to creation, and activation to measurement. Brands that embrace the new relationships they must cultivate with their consumers in this digital-first world will see deeper engagement and higher growth – at an accelerated pace.”    

“In 2022, I’m predicting we’ll see a resurgence of insights-driven creative to balance out the waning trust in available platform/device data during digital campaigns,” said Liz Caselli-Mechael, Head of Content & Digital, Nestlé S.A. “While I’m a lover of ongoing optimization, we’re finding that mid-campaign data can’t be the be-all-end-all for smart marketing decisions, and we are putting additional focus on pre-campaign audience insights to design effective content, no matter the data constraints.” 

The way in which people consume media will have an impact on the CPG business, as far as how brands purchase ads. Linda Bethea, Head of Marketing at Danone, predicts a shake-up in the streaming market. “The rapid proliferation of streaming services has created chaos for both consumers and advertisers alike as they try to navigate an increasingly crowded and fragmented space,” Bethea said. “Consumer confusion and frustration will drive consolidation.”

Stacie Medley, Director, US Media at Kimberly Clark believes consumer behaviors will drive the conversation. “As we settle into our new reality, I am fascinated by the changing shopping behaviors that are emerging. With the acceleration of digital commerce and the on-demand convenience that we have all come to expect, I anticipate there will continue to be major shifts in how we see people engage, experience, and purchase brands.” 

Purpose-based marketing and social justice will continue to play a key role in how brands communicate with consumers next year. “Understanding and living brand purpose from the inside out was put under a microscope over the last 18 months and will continue to shape how brands authentically connect with consumers in 2022 and beyond,” said Rachel Ferdinando, Chief Marketing Officer at Frito Lay.

“Keeping purpose at the core of our brands will continue to guide all that we do and be more important than ever, no matter how the environment around us changes,” Ferdinando continued. “For us, purpose isn’t just a wildly overused and sometimes misused word – it’s how we operate. At Frito-Lay, our true business isn’t simply selling snacks, it’s about sparking joy. We had established this purpose well before the pandemic, and the last 18 months has only validated that we needed to lean into our purpose that much more. Take the 2021 Super Bowl. We could have shifted our creative strategy or limited our involvement – but instead we had our largest presence to date with three spots, featuring Cheetos, Doritos, and our full portfolio of beloved brands. We leveraged relatable insights, innovative technology and humor to connect with consumers in a way they’ve come to expect from our brands. We understood the profoundness of this moment – a time when the country came back in celebration for the first time in what seemed like eternity. We knew how important it was for us not to just deliver a commercial, but to spread smiles. When executed with intent, purpose creates a connection that transcends anything we can ever manufacture, and when you live and breathe your purpose, real magic can occur.”

“Since the onset of the pandemic, consumers have demanded action from brands on the issues they care about most and will continue to do so in the future. So it’s critical for brands to understand where and how to elevate these shared values. But you need to go beyond donations or philanthropy,” said Ciara Dilley, Vice President Transform Brands, FLNA at PepsiCo. “Tying purpose-driven work to business growth is where you start to see real change. When we can make purpose a part of our capabilities and talent it moves the needle further toward long-term change. For example, with our Stacy’s Rise program, we collaborate with executives within Frito-Lay and high-profile female trailblazers to work with our founders as mentors, sharing their particular expertise to help see the program through. This not only offers an invaluable service to our founders that will hopefully help them grow their business, but it begins making waves of change within our internal team. They are awakened to how they can not only help drive the business forward but also make change outside of our walls towards a larger purpose. It keeps the cycle of purpose-led work going.” 

Pandemic-driven trends from experimenting in the kitchen to ordering groceries online will likely continue into next year. During the past two years, people had to pivot and accomplish new life skills without much warning,” said Jill Pratt, Chief Marketing Officer at McCormick. “Several consumers were in the kitchen for the first time or the first time in a long time and developed new expertise in the kitchen. Other consumers elevated and expanded their creativity as they went from cooking a few meals a week to breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the entire household. Our digital teams adjusted their content to meet our consumers where they are on their cooking journey and offer a helping hand virtually.”

“While people are starting to dine out and enjoy a prepared meal, they are still cooking far more at home than before the pandemic as many of these new skills have become habits,” Pratt added. “McCormick  consumers gained a lot of confidence in the kitchen during this time and are excited to bring their family and friends together over a home-cooked meal. We should all take time to reflect on the learnings, whatever they may be for your industry, and continue to be present with engaging content for new routines.”  

As ecommerce continues to grow as a viable channel to sell groceries, digital marketing will continue to innovate around the channel.

“Having worked in China, I am always amazed by the innovation and speed to scale in ecommerce there,” said Linda Lee, Chief Marketing Officer of Campbell’s Meals and Beverages. “It’s a great market to find inspiration as well as foresight to what’s to come.  My prediction for 2022 is that live commerce will gain critical traction in the US.”

Mark Wakefield, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Nutella, Chocolate & Snacks at Ferrero expects the “premiumization” trend will grow in importance in the coming year. 

“Across categories, people are increasingly willing to pay more for products that are more delicious, more nutritious or just feel more special than the next thing on the shelf,” he said. “Consumers are making distinctions about just how premium things are and are making choices to trade up or trade down between brands given the occasion. This bifurcation will only become clearer as people make more choices as we start to return to celebrations and find new ways to get together.”

“When you show up to your first dinner party in months, you'll want the dessert, candy or bottle you bring to feel generous,” he continued. “And when we treat ourselves, we really want it to be worth it. Premium products will continue to be growth drivers for many different categories. For both manufacturers and retailers, this presents an opportunity to give lagging categories a boost and improve margins in a time when every trip counts.”

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