Daily Management Review

Packaged Food Giants Plan To Directly Push Online Sales To Gather Customer Data


Packaged Food Giants Plan To Directly Push Online Sales To Gather Customer Data
Companies in the packaged food industry are trying to gather more data about the purchasing habits of their customers and this is pushing companies like Kraft Heinz, General Mills and Kellogg to focus on selling of their products to consumers directly through their own online sale channels.
In 2020, the sale generated through its e-commerce wing more than doubled at Velveeta-cheese maker Kraft Heinz and this sale channel now accounts for more than 5 per cent of the total sales of the company globally, said the company’s Chief Executive Miguel Patricio at the virtual Consumer Analyst Group of New York (CAGNY) conference earlier this week.
The “Heinz To Home” website in the United Kingdom, Australia and Europe is used by the company to directly sell its Heinz baked beans and tomato soup to customers by subscription or in bundles directly.
Kraft’s head of international business, Rafael de Oliveira, said at the conference that the sales of the company’s products through its website are “giving us valuable insights into consumer behavior, enabling us to quickly test and learn from innovations”. He added that this online sale channel will be continued to be used in the developed market by the company to generate strong sales.
The e-commerce sales of the company also include the products of the company that are sold through online marketplaces such as on Amazon.com and Walmart.com.
According to market research firm Earnest Research, in 2020, an average of $1,271 was spent by US shoppers in buying groceries online which was 45 per cent year on year rise – driven primarily because of the pandemic which resulted in closed stores and people being restricted to their home amid restrictions and lockdowns. In comparison, there was only a 7 per cent rise in the average spending by consumers in physical stores in 2020 at $3,849.
Two websites of PepsiCo – pantryshop.com and snacks.com, are used by the company to sells its products including Doritos, Quaker oats and Gatorade directly to consumers. Both the sites were launched by the company in 2020.
Manufacturing capacity, automation, and a “ramping up of investments in our e-commerce channel” would be the three major areas that more than 45 per cent of the company’s capital investments over the next few years would be made, said PepsiCo’s Chief Financial Officer Hugh Johnston.
Many packaged food manufacturers are significantly interested to gather data about consumer behaviour on their own even as the major online retailers such as Amazon.com and Walmart.com sit on a large and very valuable cache of consumer data.
“COVID (has) simply accelerated our digital growth and has provided us with yet another source of data and insight,” Monica McGurk, chief growth officer at breakfast cereal maker Kellogg Co., said at the conference.
A direct-to-consumer website focused on digestive wellness was launched very recently by Kellogg, the company that makes Corn Flakes as well as Pringles chips, it said. The online platform will now be used by the company to sell its new Mwell Microbiome Powder for gut health and in the process it will be able to father data customer interest about the product prior to launching it formally and widely.
Kellogg said that over the last year, its e-commerce sales have doubled and now account for about 8.5 per cent of the total annual global sales of the company which was at $13.77 billion in 2020.
“We’re aggressively investing in data and analytics. We are gathering unparalleled insights from the first-party data we collect through our brand websites,” said General Mills’ Chief Executive Jeffrey Harmening.