How to approach the FMCG sector

Over the last 10 years, Upfront has helped many of our clients win new business in the FMCG sector with the likes of GSK, Mondelez, Coca Cola, Red Bull, Molson Coors, Glendfiddich and Organix. However, it’s a very competitive sector, dominated by a few major players with a big emphasis often put on procurement.

To help our clients with their approach to new clients in 2015, we asked 100 Marketing decision makers from the FMCG sector how they source new agency partners. Here are the findings:-

37% of FMCG Marketers find their agencies through recommendations.

Over one third of the marketers we interviewed look to colleagues or peers – within the FMCG sector – to suggest other agencies. We all know what a difference a recommendation can make, but within the FMCG sector this is very often the starting point for an agency search.

If you have good experience in the FMCG sector, talk to your clients and see if they can recommend you to others. In particular, if they are part of a larger group that owns other brands find out who they know, or if they can promote you internally.

24% look to find new agency partners via networking.

Coming up in 2015, the International Food & Drink IFE event will be held in London in March and look out for the IGD convention in October. Whether you are speaking, or just attending, there will be plenty of opportunities for networking.

FMCG marketers are always hungry for marketing and digital insight, speaking and sponsoring events can be a great way to get their attention. A good example of this is the Future of FMCG events hosted by GADM. We saw client wins coming as a direct result of agency speaker presentations at last years event – and this will be running again in September.

Make sure you map out all the relevant industry events for 2015. Identify who will be attending each event, then call in advance to set up introductions on or around the day.

16% of the companies in the survey use procurement for finding new agencies.

This was perhaps not as high as we expected. We also found that over 56% interviewed didn’t consider procurement important when selecting agencies. However, the rest do: 44% either go through procurement, or at least use them for advice in the process.

Make sure you identify the role of procurement within each organization, as this can differ considerably. Where there is a clear procurement process in place, it’s important that you get registered and begin engaging with relevant procurement decision makers, as well as your marketing contacts.

Understand what procurement contacts typically look for, identify potential review dates and ask for preferred communication. Then keep each contact updated so they have information they need to support your cause internally.

Whilst one major group responded that procurement complicated the process – and agencies can often bemoan the function – we have enjoyed very positive experiences with procurement teams over the years. Often they have helped us to navigate the agency selection process and get our clients on the radar with brand and marketing teams.

14% welcome direct approaches.

We’ve enjoyed good success for our clients using a combination of calling, email and social. The FMCG sector is often a difficult one to get through to people on the phone, so we support our activity with good content, such as video case studies and infographics to help us keep in touch.

This statistic does not suggest that the rest don’t want to hear from you. If your approach is relevant it should be of interest. Make sure you read the likes of the Grocer so you know all about who you are approaching. Innovation is crucial so keep an eye on new product launches and make sure you are up to speed with the fast moving nature of the industry.

Where possible your approach – to Marketing and Procurement – should be joined up with all of the above, including events and using referrals where possible.

Finally, work out who the big groups are. Look at who owns who and how all the brands piece together. There are a few organisations – Unilever, P&G, GSK, Mondelez, Nestle, et al – who own a lot of household brands you will want to target. If you can work out the decision makers and organisational structure for each, this will make your approach far more effective: particularly when it comes to navigating procurement.

Please don’t hesitate to get in contact if you would like further information on our survey, or if you are an agency and would like our help approaching new clients in the FMCG sector.

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