Should FMCG brands in-house or outsource their digital marketing?

Many important lessons have been learned from COVID-19. The stand out for FMCG brands is that better leveraging digital and embracing ecommerce is the way to go.

As consumers cannot shop in physical stores as frequently as before, they are now inevitably looking for other ways to purchase their goods. This change in consumer habits means the promise of direct-to-consumer (DTC) ecommerce channels is more tempting than ever for FMCG brands.

With DTC ecommerce offering increased access to and control of consumer data, along with the potential to better meet the needs of consumers, it’s unsurprising that more and more brands are looking to fast-track their e-commerce capabilities. And to fully own these crucial channels, many FMCG brands are looking to in-house models for their e-commerce and wider digital marketing capabilities.

Weighing up the benefits of in-housing

In our previous virtual panel event: Are you in, or out? In-housing in 2020 and beyond, Non-executive Chairman, Jerry Buhlmann, explains that in-housing can allow clients to leverage the digital economy more effectively.

He goes on to say that by in-housing, brands can better control their data as there is a shorter value chain. Marketers within these companies can protect their data and create a first-party data strategy that will enable increased transparency and control. 

With digital growing at an exponential rate and overtaking offline, this control is paramount.

For FMCG brands, the point of sale was previously out of their control and they couldn’t reliably connect offline data purchases to online sales. They wanted more control of that data, in order to integrate the product team, the UX team, and the internal systems, so that they could be clearer on customer needs and more sophisticated in the way they advertise to those customers.

Ben Knight, Co-founder of Serpico by Croud, believes that owning more of your data to amplify your marketing activities is a no-brainer, as it lets you reach the right customers at the right time and make the most impact.

Bouncing back after the recession

Jerry Buhlmann describes in the panel how COVID-19, and the resulting recession, has prompted change. Businesses slowed everything down, furloughing staff, and reducing costs where they could as a precaution. We are still nowhere near returning to ‘normal’, but as the recession ends, and businesses can function as usual, marketing will be one of the leading driving forces that pulls those businesses out of that rut.

What brands need as they transition out of this period is different. When allocating budget they need to prioritise initiatives that will give them a competitive advantage and provide tangible value. It is believed that in-housing will be very high up on the list of areas that clients will be looking at.

In fact, research from our report suggests that nearly half (49%) of UK marketers now plan to move more of their digital marketing in-house.

We have seen many businesses suffer as a result of the pandemic and the resulting recession. As brands look towards the return of growth, investment in their digital channels and careful re-evaluation of their approaches is critical. Consumers have moved online to shop on digital platforms and those once-temporary fixes have now become permanent consumer habits.

For that reason, old-style brand advertising needs to shift to fit the demand-led model to provide the same level of care to customers.

In the panel, Jude Bridge, Managing Director at Oystercatchers, emphasised the growing importance of tonality and messaging for brands. There is a desire from customers for more information and for them to stay connected with the brands they purchase from.

In-housing can help these brands remain socially aligned, by using first-party data to create excellent high-volume communications. With support from in-house workers, communications content can be produced and aligned to create consistent messaging across all their platforms to keep those customers informed and interested in the products they’re selling.

What should the future look like for FMCGs?

It’s more important than ever that these brands remain agile so that they can meet the needs of new and existing customers; now, as we enter new stages of the pandemic and as we return to normality.

From our research,

we know that 44% of CMOs in the UK and US believe that the Covid-19 crisis will increase their likelihood of in-housing. The successful experience of a dispersed, remote workforce, gives confidence that fundamentally different ways of working can be embraced.

Moving towards a model with a flexible team, bolstered by expertise on-demand, and focused on consumer needs, will allow FMCG brands to blend agility and scale, future-proofing their marketing operation.

Find out more

Want to know whether in-housing is right for your brand? Take our in-house readiness assessment to get a steer on what’s next. For more information on our in-housing solutions, get in touch.

by Croud
25 November 2020



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