The breakfast cereal business is highly competitive, with annual U.S. sales topping $10 billion. Each year, food companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars on advertising. Post Foods, which makes GrapeNuts, Honey Bunches of Oats and 13 other brands, is always on the lookout for ways to engage directly with consumers, to boost awareness of its cereal products and cultivate customer loyalty. As part of its digital marketing strategy, the old-line company has embraced emerging technologies. "It's a very competitive space," says Michael Foley, Post Foods' senior brand manager. "You have to try to break through the clutter."
Last year, Post Foods decided to try using Near-Field Communication technology to connect with consumers and encourage them to interact with custom-developed, branded digital content. The company also wanted to see whether the data from the customer interactions would provide insight into consumer behavior and a way to measure the effectiveness of the campaign.
More concertgoers than expected activated the cards and used their NFC phones to access the digital content. "NFC is truly an affordable and effective way to engage our consumers," Foley says. "It is now definitely part of our marketing toolkit."
A Controlled Environment
In 2013, Post Foods hired Camintel Group, a New York City-based startup that develops mobile applications for engagement marketing campaigns, to help develop the NFC solution. In a twist on traditional consumer advertising and outreach, engagement marketing seeks to actively involve individuals with a brand or product through social media or other means. It took just three weeks to design the solution.
Camintel provided the customized printed NFC tags and the cloud-based digital marketing platform, known as Touch2Like, which was optimized for mobile devices. XL Alliance, a cross-cultural marketing and strategy firm that works with Post Foods on digital and social-media campaigns, developed the content, which was hosted on Camitel's servers and could be updated or refined as needed.
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