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What can social media do for FMCG brands?

Posted by
23 November 2010


Social media is earned media, right? How do you get people to spread the word about a new soap, a typical fast moving consumer good (FMCG)?

In a recent report by Randall Helms – Suitably Social (PDF) – he provides some reasons why FMCG brands have an issue with social media:

“(FMCG’s have) relatively low brand resonance compared to some other types of branded products and services. This is partially a function of price (since low price generally equals low involvement), as well as ubiquity breeding apathy.”

I’m not convinced by those arguments. Google and Twitter are both free, available everywhere and great brands. But they are remarkable: they provide a fantastic product that is hard for others to replicate.

As we know, advertising is for those that don’t have a remarkable product. Does this mean FMCG brands should stick to advertising and forgo social?

Hell No.

The gold standard of awareness creation via social media was for an FMCG brand – the Old Spice Guy campaign. And it beats many standard advertising campaigns hands down for results.

I mean, it almost immediately lifted sales!

Here is a good summary of the campaign and its results, but to sum it up – Old Spice marketed to an audience with an audience creatively on a grand scale.

Ah, but I hear you say: the Old Spice Guy never spoke about Old Spice. The link with the brand was ‘merely’ an emotional connection.

True. But if you are going to play to the product’s strengths of an FMCG brand, you better be sure that they really are remarkable. Else you need to go the creative, emotional and less product-y way.

One avenue is to engage key influencers in a remarkable way like Old Spice did.

But hang on a minute. What about this sharing fad? Sharing is so now! ;) Ergo.. Can’t I make people share stuff under the banner of my brand?

We’ll deal with the sharing ‘fad’ and whether your brand can get people to share stuff in a next post.

RAAK’s top list of FMCG brand’s campaigns on social media:

1. Old Spice – by a country mile.
2. Whopper friend sacrifice – very creative use of social media AND directly related to the brand!
3. Skittles – much maligned in the marketing community but very good value for money awareness creation none the less.

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  • Posted by Randall Helms
    January 13, 2011 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    hi there,

    Thanks for featuring my report – I hope you found it interesting.

    I think you’ve taken my words slightly out of context here, as the quote you’ve used is not saying that FMCG brands should avoid social media, but that they have certain difficulties compared to, say, aspirational lifestyle brands like Nike or Starbucks. Nowhere in my report do I say that FMCG brand managers should avoid using social media. In fact I agree with you about Old Spice, since I used that campaign specifically as an example of a successful usage of social media to market an FMCG brand.


    Randall Helms

  • January 13, 2011 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    Hi Randall, I did not say that your quote indicates that you say FMCG brands should avoid social media. I said they have an issue- a particular issue – with social media. That is correct is it not?

    Neither do I say that you say that FMCG brand mangers should avoid using social.

    What I did say is that I disagree with you that FMCG’s issue comes from low price and ubiquity.

  • Posted by Randall Helms
    January 14, 2011 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    hi Wessel,

    No, on a second reading, I guess you didn’t really say that. I probably shouldn’t leave comments at 7 in the morning. ;)



  • January 14, 2011 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    No worries, and by the way – its an insightful paper.

  • Posted by Lucy Hardicre
    October 4, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    “”(FMCG’s have) relatively low brand resonance compared to some other types of branded products and services.”"

    I agree with this point; I feel that it is far harder to gain emotional attachments to FMCGs. However, I think social media, when used in the right way, can help build trust and attachment to a product.

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