CPG brands use sales optimization for this back-to-school season

It’s that time of year: back-to-school. While parents pack snacks and fill backpacks with school supplies, CPG brand marketers are gearing up pivotal campaigns. In 2022, back to school spending reached $37 billion despite high inflation, according to the National Retail Federation, and brands are vying to get a piece of that lucrative market.

For many CPG brands struggling with limited first-party data, there's a significant learning curve to activating campaigns for people who are ready to buy. But with the right martech solution, brands across verticals can achieve higher purchase conversions.

It’s not a cheat sheet. A sales optimization tool, like Epsilon’s Verified Purchase Optimization, can identify individual consumers instead of relying on segments or modeled audiences, meaning CPG brand marketers can identify their best customers and work within their purchase cycles to nurture strong relationships and lifetime value. Not only that, but it can drive better results (than other solutions) without having to spend any more money.

“This is CPG nirvana,” said Dan Perez, vice president of CPG media solutions at Epsilon. “CPG brands can reach consumers and optimize after they’ve seen a particular message. That means I’m reaching people who have yet to buy and not those who’ve already purchased. Brands spend less, reach more people in a more effective way and they can see how it’s working right away.”

Powerful identity is in a class all its own

Brands with limited data—or those who rely heavily on third-party cookies—often use broad segmentation to drive their campaigns. During peak times of year, like back-to-school, competition is stiff and there are fewer opportunities to capture the interest of the consumer.

Modeled audiences can give marketers a sense of who they want to reach, but ultimately contribute to waste. For brands using a sales optimization tool, especially one built on a strong identity solution like Epsilon’s CORE ID, brands can start optimizing campaigns against an individual, not just a segment.  

The end result? Marketers know who is actually in-market, whether they’ve already purchased the product, and if they haven’t, what messages on which devices resonate most. This creates a continued cycle that drives higher lifetime value. Not only are brands finding people in the wild to drive new revenue, they’re establishing a solid purchase cycle with the customers who already love their product.

“It allows you to fine tune your campaign to the most active audiences and drive greater campaign performance,” Perez said. “This has always been a limitation for CPG brands that we can now address. Epsilon’s Verified Purchase Optimization tool fills that gap in the marketplace.”

For CPG brands, who have fewer opportunities to capture the interest of a consumer before they switch to different brand or skip your brand altogether, getting clearer on customer identity is imperative.

Fruits of marketing labor: Sales optimization in the wild

For one Epsilon CPG client, employing a sales optimization tool caused a reduction in ad waste, created higher reach and enabled better efficiencies. This iconic brand is known for selling fresh and packaged produce in the U.S., including items commonly found in lunchboxes across the country. They relied on third-party cookies to power their marketing operations, and in turn, couldn’t see the full scope of buyer interactions across all digital formats.

This meant serving ads to consumers who weren’t in market or had already purchased at the household level. And because they were using directional measurement to allocate budget to the “best” segments rather than individuals, they couldn’t control media delivery and message frequency to get the biggest bang for their ad buck. When it came time for their fall campaign to raise awareness and consideration for their fruit cups, they turned to Epsilon.

Integrating Epsilon CORE ID with purchase data from Circana allowed the brand to identify people that just bought. Leveraging a mix of connected TV (CTV), over-the-top (OTT), online video (OLV) and display ads, they moved buyers through the path-to-purchase. Epsilon’s Verified Purchase Optimization solution, powered by Circana, enabled the CPG brand to make sales optimizations in flight based on purchase data: Once a targeted customer purchased their product, messages to that consumer were suppressed.

With current buyers removed from upper funnel marketing, the brand could optimize their message and reach consumers that hadn’t bought, allowing them to fine-tune their media spend to drive more incremental sales. They also could reactivate buyers when they were ready to buy again.

The results were A+. Over the course of the 14-week campaign, the CPG brand reached 4.6 million unique households within their desired market and suppressed on average 295,000 weekly buyers during the same campaign cycle. Each buyer was exposed to the same advertisement 3.8 times on average and spent about 44 days in the purchase cycle. Campaign efficiencies include a 19% media savings and a 65% lift in household penetration (HHP).

Using Epsilon’s Verified Purchase Optimization solution, the brand saw their year-over-year performance increase three-fold, with a 9.6% lift in HHP

Ace your back-to-school campaigns with greater performance & media efficiencies

With true people-based identity tools like Epsilon’s Verified Purchase Optimization, CPG brands can ace their campaigns for back-to-school season and beyond, driving greater performance and media efficiencies.

When you know who’s actually buying your brand, it becomes possible to attain the seemingly impossible dream of CPG marketing: lifetime value. You can optimize the sparse first-party data you may have by identifying and reaching the right people at the right time, creating campaigns that truly make the grade.

If you want to learn more, visit the Epsilon website.