Here at Chicory, we've spent the last year building out brand new technology that understands recipes and ingredient-level data like never before. And as we've built this out, we've realized that there are all sorts of trends that differ from our assumptions about consumers and shoppers. Just because people are looking at a recipe, for example, doesn't mean that those are the same recipes that inform purchases.

And that's why there's a glaring problem with CPG purchase data. 

In looking at Nielsen's recent report, they explain the difference between "shoppers" and "consumers." Think about the consumer as any potential buyer at the top of the funnel. As Nielsen explains it, the consumer's set of concerns, when it comes to food products, include things like nutrition and tastiness. 

As we move further down the funnel, however, consumers (hopefully) turn into shoppers. Shoppers have a new and separate set of concerns like variety, value and experience. Imagine that you're looking at a recipe: you're in the consumer phase when you're pinning ambitious bakes to your Pinterest boards. You become a shopper once you're in your favorite market's baking aisle, perhaps opting for a cake mix rather than following that from-scratch recipe you pinned on Sunday when you thought you'd have more time to plan for that bake sale.

This difference is unique to the food and CPG space. In other industries, should someone show intent to buy a television, say, by looking at that product on Amazon, they're likely to continue considering that exact product, which is why retargeting works. It might just be a matter of time before that shopper/consumer puts that TV in their cart and pushes "buy." 

For food, however, retargeting is a tricky game. How can you convince a consumer to get your brand of crackers? So much depends on their experience that week or at the particular store they visit. Plus, search data is misleading: it's very unlikely that a consumer will search "where to buy yogurt in NYC," but instead will probably search for recipes or roundups; things like ten ways to use Greek yogurt for dinner. Which is why we've found that it's key to get deeper into the consumer's journey--search terms simply aren't enough for determining purchase intent when it comes to food and consumer packaged goods.

Think, then, beyond the traditional advertising and marketing tactics. With consumers and, to some extent, shoppers moving online, there are new opportunities to monitor and understand how to influence purchases and understand shopping habits that haven't existed before.

At Chicory, we've started to do the following:

  1. Understand the difference between the ingredients people look at often versus the products people buy. And we've been able to realize trends, like people often pair certain ingredients or use booze in their baking recipes around holidays.
  2. Deduce the recipes that get people clicking. We understand that recipes drive a tremendous amount of interest in groceries--90% of cooks use recipes to inform their grocery shopping--but again, while we might see trends among consumers with ingredients like espresso powder, ultimately things like flour, sugar, butter remain the most viewed and purchased by shoppers
  3. Prove that targeting recipes as an indication of purchase intent has produced higher CTRs than traditional programmatic/contextual ad buys. We do this by targeting at the ingredient level, meaning we can present a consumer or online shopper with an appropriate product suggestion whether at the research stage or at the purchase stage. And we can adjust campaigns accordingly.

We know it's just the beginning in terms of understanding how we can address the challenges facing the CPG industry and digital media planning, but we're looking forward to seeing what we can learn next. 

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