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Turning Supply Chain Problems Into Brand Opportunities

When there are manufacturing and supply chain problems, here’s how brands can find opportunities to redirect marketing efforts for ROI.

Revolution Digital  |  March 31, 2022
Turning Supply Chain Problems Into Brand Opportunities

If you are a CPG marketer, you’ve probably had more than one meeting about supply chain issues in the past year. OK, probably more than one this week alone. Ingredient availability, manufacturing pauses, shipping delays – it is happening to everyone. When one cog in the wheel is broken, the whole system comes to a screeching halt. Perhaps it’s a reminder of how important every single person is to the overall process, but I digress. Let’s talk about how it affects marketing.

The best laid marketing plans get completely tossed out when you can’t get your product from factory to shelf. Why spend your advertising budget trying to sell a product that consumers can’t buy? The rationale to stop all advertising certainly makes sense on the surface, but it might not be the best plan for long-term success.

A recent Oracle study found that 80% of consumers say delays and shortages could cause them to cut ties with their favorite brands. And if consumers can’t find their favorite brand, they’ll be forced to try a different brand, private label or maybe even a substitute product. Perhaps they’ll even like the new product better. It’s easy to forgo brand loyalties when the brand you’re loyal to can’t hold up its end of the bargain and there’s another option right there, ready to take its place.

So, it’s the job of marketers to make sure consumers don’t forget about their brand, reminding them why they love your brand in the first place. Make them miss you so they are ready with open arms when your product is back on shelves.

But how?

One of the best examples of how to advertise during a severe product shortage happened over the holidays last year. Consumers were pulling out their beloved cheesecake recipes, only to get to the store and find there was no cream cheese. Did Philadelphia Cream Cheese see this as an opportunity to save advertising dollars? No – they did just the opposite. They spent money. A lot of it. And as a result, they became a relatable brand that showed consumers they “get” them.

It was simple and out-of-the-box thinking when the brand told consumers they would pay them to not eat cheesecake on Christmas. In fact, they told consumers they would buy them a different dessert. Umm, what? It might sound crazy, but it was brilliant.

Philadelphia took the opportunity to become part of the conversation that was happening. In fact, they directed the entire conversation to be about them. I am confident that every one of those 18,000 consumers who received money to buy a different dessert, bought that dessert while thinking of Philadelphia Cream Cheese. And I would bet next year when they go to make their holiday treats, they will remember that moment – and grab the Philadelphia Cream Cheese. But more than that, the millions of people who did not get the money got something, too. They got to deepen a relationship with a brand because that brand suddenly became extremely relatable. And to them, it seemed to be the opposite of marketing. Philadelphia was not trying to sell them a thing. Instead, they were trying to add value to their lives and solve their problems for them. And that matters – a lot.

According to a recent Redpoint Global report on consumer opinions about brands, 80% are more likely to buy brands that show they understand them.

How does a brand get to understand their consumers? By listening, of course. Consumers are vocal about their hopes, dreams, problems, successes and even their frustrations with buying cream cheese. You just need to know where to look. And how to listen.

The last two years have taught us all to expect the unexpected, so why not take this moment to do the unexpected. Instead of looking at the supply chain break as a problem, reframe it into a marketing opportunity. As yourself the question: “how can my brand be relatable and add value to consumers during this time?” And then give us a call. We specialize in making brands relatable to consumers. We are always listening.

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