eComm Surge in New Categories Shines Bright Light on Need to Fix These Fundamentals

Apr 16, 2020

A Closer Look at One Category – Soup – Reveals the Need to Double Down on PDP Pages

Soup has seen nearly 400% eCommerce growth since early March. Consumers are hunkered down at home with this comfort food, making it one of the top 100 fastest growing categories online. But as a quick audit of a few brand Product Detail Pages (PDP) illustrates, that growth is driven more by the urgent need to avoid the grocery store than by brand benefit/communication driven copy or visuals. Just like with the physical store shelf, with only seconds of dwell time in any category – whether it’s soup or any food product – what is revealed is that those brands’ PDP images, videos and copy could be working a lot harder at driving the needed action – to close the sale on that page.

While other categories such as diapers, electronics and pet food have worked to perfect their PDP pages over the years as their eComm business grew, the shelter-in-place phenomenon and surge in eCommerce sales in “non traditional eCommerce” categories has shown a bright light on the need to focus on PDP pages in these newly surging categories. PDP visuals should be insight driven, prioritize brand-driving benefits over features, and have compelling visuals. This is particularly true in food, where this is a category norm in non-eComm communication.

At 4Sight, we mine reviews, e-commerce questions, and social comments to uncover actional insights informed by understanding drivers and longitudinal trends in the category/brands. One area where this is critical is leveraging that data to determine the best priority of communication on a brand’s PDP, as well as category appropriate visuals, work that we have done across multiple consumer goods categories.

In the eCom surging category of soup, pulling out two examples illustrates the point: Progresso Chicken Noodle Soup and Mike’s Mighty Good Chicken Ramen Soup.

Before we even get to consumer and marketing communication, there’s a core operational issue. Neither soup uses all of the allotted visual spaces for images; Progresso uses 5 while Mike’s Mighty Ramen has 4 visuals. That’s like leaving the last 0:10 of a TV copy blank.

From a priority of communication standpoint, PDP pages all must start with answering the “who am I” question with that first image. The consumer needs to know what they’re buying – just like at the store shelf. Both soup brands’ first images are, appropriately, the product itself. Progresso’s familiar blue can versus Mike’s Mighty Good yellow container. So check on that, which is easy.

But there’s only one standout with the rest of the PDP images: Mike’s Mighty Good Ramen’s second image. It’s an appetizing visual of the soup in a bowl, which is a category norm for non-eComm visual communication.

The rest of both brands’ communication is a hot mess of visuals of their labels/ingredients. Absent are a few things besides more appetizing visuals: benefit-driven copy and visuals, and a priority of communication on those brand-driving benefit points of difference (POD). For Mike’s, a full drivers analysis of reviews and eRetailer questions would reveal what those brand-driving POD benefits are (and what competitive vulnerabilities are as well). They may include things like non-GMO, organic, made from scratch, etc., that they call out further down in the PDP, all of which would be benefits they can/should call out in the PDP images (and copy on those images). But that’s the work that needs to be done.

Despite Mike’s one visual of soup itself, benefit visualization is clearly lacking on both Progresso and Mike’s. In offline communication, food and beverage companies have known for years that there are certain category norms in communication. One of the most important of these is showing appetizing images, e.g. the heat coming off the soup, the fizz of a carbonated beverage, or fresh tomatoes on a burger.

There are brands getting it right. One such brand excelling at benefit visualization is McCormick. Take a look at a highly commoditized category like Ground Black Pepper; McCormick has very appetizing images with clear benefit visual communication.

For many of these “non traditional” eCommerce categories in food, to not only compete vs others category competitors, but also to continue that surge in online growth, they need to treat their PDPs with the same attention to fundamentals that they treat any other form of advertising or shelf space communication. And that begins with adhering to category norms and understanding what the brand-driver benefits are that drive priority of communication. The beauty of eCommerce is that the insights on those wants is just a few clicks away in reviews and eRetailer questions.

Link to Progresso PDP

Link to Mike's Mighty Good PDP Link to McCormick PDP