During the coronavirus pandemic, many FMCG brands have established new channels and relationships with consumers. How can they use these to gather first-party data and put it to effective use in their advertising and marketing campaigns?

Fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) brands, also known as consumer-packaged goods (CPG) brands, have historically struggled with collecting first-party data on their customers, their purchasing habits and preferences.

These brands, which include among them everything from packaged foods and dry goods, toiletries, cosmetics, beverages and over-the-counter drugs, are typically sold through third-party distribution channels like supermarkets and pharmacies. As a result, they have access to limited information about their end consumers.

While brands have been making progressive efforts to change this over the past few years, having access to first-party data was still very much the exception rather than the rule for FMCGs. At least, until the coronavirus pandemic.

With food, toiletries and household goods of all kinds suddenly in short supply and customers turning in droves to online channels, many FMCG brands turned to selling direct to consumer for the first time ever, establishing their own ecommerce channels where they owned the entire relationship with the customer. Others began communicating with their customers more directly, inviting them to share their preferences and feedback.

How can FMCG brands ensure that they’re collecting as much of this hard-won first-party data as possible and putting it to work in their advertising campaigns? I spoke to James Patterson, VP Global Operations at The Trade Desk, on how brands can make use of the “gold mine” of first-party data at their disposal to improve and measure their advertising campaigns – particularly at a time when the use of third-party tracking cookies is increasingly scrutinised and restricted. I also heard from Jean-Philippe Nier, Head of Ecommerce at Kraft Heinz UK & Ireland, on how the company is making use of customer data after setting up a new direct-to-consumer channel, ‘Heinz to Home’, during the Covid-19 lockdown.

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