Hungry Eyes: How to Make Your PDPs More Edible for Maximum Conversion
The battle for share of stomach has been raging for decades. According to monthly sales data from the USDA, roughly 51% of U.S. consumers’ food dollars were spent away from home before COVID-19 – a trend that had been growing since 1997 as foodservice and delivery options proliferated and better served our time-starved, convenience-craving American lifestyles.
COVID-19 disrupted this trajectory, however, shifting significant traffic back into retail and food at home. In fact, since March 2020, U.S. consumer spend on food away from home dropped from 51% down to about 30%. Online grocery sales saw a large and sustained growth trend as shoppers moved to click-and-collect and home delivery and as retailers expanded omnichannel capabilities and partnerships with delivery services like Instacart and Shipt.
And the spend statistics don’t lie. According to a recent report from Acosta, 55% of U.S. shoppers reported eating at home more often since the pandemic began, and over a third anticipate eating out less or even not at all “after the pandemic,” 1) because of fears and concerns about the pandemic’s effects not truly being over, and 2) in order to save money versus more expensive food delivery and foodservice options in this period of economic uncertainty.
This new habit of food at home has prompted both positive and negative experiences with food preparation. 35% of shoppers claim to have found a new passion for cooking during the pandemic, while 25% say they are tired of having to cook more at home. No matter the reaction, however, 40% say that meal planning is the biggest challenge in this new food-at-home reality, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to a society that had shifted the majority of its meal planning and preparation to foodservice prior to 2020.
What these consumers could use more of is inspiration and direction to help them with quick and easy meal planning. And the food and beverage brands that strategically share such inspiration and direction along the path to purchase, but more specifically at the point of purchase on the digital shelf where the shoppers are now shopping, will drive greater conversion and win disproportionately in the short and long-term.
Ever Heard of Shoppable Recipes?
Many food brands and foodie influencers alike have sought to create recipe content online and make it shoppable with “add to cart” and “add to list” links directing to shopping list apps and grocery retailer platforms.
This is a good strategy; however, instead of just bringing the shopability to the recipe, why don’t more brands bring the recipe to the shop? It’s fascinating, but if you “walk the digital aisles” on Amazon.com, Walmart.com, Kroger.com and other leading retailer sites, very few food and beverage brands leverage recipe content on their product detail pages to inspire and engage their shoppers’ minds and appetites for greater conversion.
How to Cook Up Your Content
While a brand’s product detail pages must be planned strategically, there is more than enough real estate across image carousels, A+ content and video to feature food inspiration and recipe content. And for food brands, what could be more strategic than showing your shoppers new ways to include your products into their daily diets?
Here is a range of PDP executions worth referencing as an effort to help all brands continuously push the boundaries with the latest best practices.
GOOD: At a minimum, food brands should display imagery of their food “in action,” either complimenting a main dish or playing a creative lead role in an appetizer, snack or entrée.
BETTER: Taking it one step further, brands should enhance their recipe imagery with an enticing or catchy recipe name as well as copy clarifying both the featured ingredients and steps for preparation, no matter how simple. Image carousels afford the room for the recipe name, but A+ content modules provide more room for ingredients and directions.
EVEN BETTER: The Oreo and Ritz brands from Mondelez do a fantastic job featuring recipes for their leading snack brands within their image carousels, inclusive of ingredients lists, written instructions, visual step-by-step guides and finished products ready to eat. The image carousel format is ideal for simple recipes due to limited size and image count, especially on mobile.
BEST: And for more involved recipes, leave it to Campbell’s® to “take the cake” with complete recipes, including ingredients, measurements, step-by-step guides and finished dish imagery baked within it’s A+ content – a great use of this often underleveraged below-the-fold product page section, which is typically only seen by the more involved shopper (i.e. the shopper you’re trying to inspire and convert!).
FUTURE: My hope for the future is to see brands both within the same CPG organization and across organizations creating soft and hard bundle meal kits inclusive of all the ingredients for a complete meal preparation, as well as linked cross-sell charts and cross-selling content within their PDPs to help visually bundle their “tastier together” solutions for greater average order value and conversion.
In summary, with more consumers shopping for groceries online and preparing food at home, there is more opportunity for thought-leading food and beverage brands to engage and inspire them and help them solve their challenges, which will continue to include meal planning as consumers seek meal variety. By bringing the recipes to their product detail pages, brands will build stronger equities and relationships with these shoppers and ultimately drive up their sales and search rankings long-term to engage new shoppers in the future.
You’ve got this. Have some Shelf Confidence!
Unlike the physical shelf at retail, which remains fixed between annual line reviews and planogram resets, the digital shelf is a living, breathing, constantly evolving curation which must be mastered and remastered with constant vigilance and dedication.
But don’t worry. You don’t have to do this alone. We’re here to help.