Campbell Soup Company is quickening its race into the digital future by collecting more first-party data, launching test-and-learn pilots and embracing artificial intelligence (AI) to streamline personalization. These efforts are being spearheaded by Matt Pritchard, who joined Campbell's last summer as VP of digital acceleration — a new role at the company — with a mission to help it better address consumers' changing shopping habits.
Pritchard, who previously held digital strategy roles at GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Health and Kellogg in Europe, is helping modernize a 149-year-old company that's facing pressures both inside and out. Earlier this year, Campbell's CEO abruptly stepped down and recent earnings forecasts have been dreary. There's even speculation that Campbell's, which has been run by a single family for most of its life, could be put up for sale later this month, something an activist investor is reportedly calling for.
While an update is critical for Campbell's, the company recently discovered that the road to digital nirvana is paved with its own perils. In an interview with Marketing Dive last month, Pritchard pointed to a relationship with Chef'd as an example of a recent innovation. Shortly after, Chef'd — facing growing competition in the meal kit delivery space — suspended operations and was abruptly sold, with its new owners promising to keep the kits on retail store shelves — where presumably they could compete against Campbell's offerings — while suspending e-commerce sales. A Campbell's representative said in an email to Marketing Dive that it's no longer working with Chef'd.
Below, Pritchard discusses his team's focus on infusing digital throughout what he calls the 4 Ps — people, process, partners and platforms — while pointing to some of the high and low points during a year of transformation.
The following interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
MARKETING DIVE: From a marketing perspective, what are Campbell's biggest priorities and how is the company moving toward achieving them?
MATT PRITCHARD: As I came onboard, we were very clear that our understanding of the consumer was changing at an unprecedented rate, and my mission with the business was to really help us reinvent and transform our digital marketing capabilities so we can get a better understanding of that consumer and move toward driving personalized consumer connections.
We've done numerous pilots in terms of how we gather first-party data and doing that from a one-Campbell perspective. So instead of doing a brand approach, we've made a strategic shift to drive our first-party data for the Campbell family of brands. We're starting to gather more and more understanding of those people so we can tailor our messaging to them.
A number of CPG marketers have built up their direct-to-consumer e-commerce strategy as a way to gather first-party data. Is e-commerce a big focus for Campbell's?
PRITCHARD: E-commerce is part of it, but also simply growing our first-party database so we can have really meaningful conversations with consumers and say, "Can you share your data with us and then we can personalize the way we communicate with you?"
We're also looking at partners through which we can talk to people. One of the best examples is a partnership we launched three months ago with a company called Fetch Rewards, which is a new way to reward consumers for their loyalty and purchasing our products. You download the Fetch app, scan your receipt after you've done your shopping and then we reward you with Fetch points.
The difference with this scheme is that it's manufacturer-led and not retailer-led so it's agnostic, meaning wherever you buy any of the Campbell's family of products, you get rewarded. The good thing for us is that we start to understand what people are buying and then we can communicate with different messages and different promotions and incentives via Fetch.
How is Campbell's measuring the results of its online marketing. Are you looking at how the work impacts in-store sales?
PRITCHARD: This is probably the silver bullet when you get this right for a CPG company, because even with the great work that we're doing with e-commerce, we're still going to have 90% to 95% of our sales in an offline world, and that becomes a disconnected journey. It's very hard to prove how the activity you do online or in digital relates to sales. We've done some great work really diving in with our brands, looking at visits, looking at what people are consuming, for example, on Campbell's Kitchen, and how can I give them more personalized recipes based on their browsing behavior to make sure they come back and read more recipes.
We've seen some tremendous results with people staying on our site longer, browsing more recipes. With a partnership with IRI, we're now starting to track the people that are coming onto our site and what their purchase behavior is and how that has changed after their visit to our website.
If we can't link it to a sale, then how do we link it to a high-value action? For example, on Campbell's Kitchen, have they viewed more than three recipes or added any of those recipe items to show them were to buy to it? Those high-value actions give us indicators that we're engaging our consumers in a much more personal way and that relevancy is sticky.
There's no shortage of recipes sites online. How does Campbell's Kitchen drive engagement?
PRITCHARD: Campbell's Kitchen is our biggest property within the portfolio with 20 million visits a year. What we've done there is partner with a company called One Spot, which is a machine learning AI-based personalization engine. Based on what you've searched for or what you've viewed previously, we then recommend what other products and recipes you should go to. Working with them, we've seen the percentage of visitors viewing three or more recipes increase by 34%.
"For CPG, our biggest challenge is how do we create a value exchange and provide a reason for a consumer to want to have a relationship with us in whatever form they want."
VP of digital acceleration
Probably the newest thing we've done on Campbell's Kitchen is our partnership with Chicory, which is shoppable recipes. We saw very quickly when we started talking to consumers that they were liking the recipes, but getting that recipe onto a shopping list was really difficult. Chicory gives us the opportunity, with the click of a button, to add the ingredients from beef stroganoff, for example, into your Instacart basket. You can amend it quickly if you have some of the ingredients or you can export it and buy it offline.
I think we're going to see more and more of that evolution. How do we make that consumer journey, the path to purchase, as frictionless as possible and while still early days, we're seeing positive interactions looking at the click rates.
How important is personalization to Campbell's marketing strategy and what are the challenges?
PRITCHARD: It's absolutely fundamental to our digital strategy and to our business strategy. The consumer is becoming ever more demanding in what they expect from a brand. If, for example, we send an email saying "look at this new product for kids" and you don't have kids, you're going to get frustrated and turned off by the brand.
For CPG, our biggest challenge is how to create a value exchange and provide a reason for a consumer to want to have a relationship with us in whatever form they want. For a CPG that's used to having disparate data sources and maybe not much data, how do you bring together the right people, processes, partners and technical platforms to enable us to take all of that data in a way that's robust, scalable and secure?
"One of the first things we did last summer was try to create a personalized content journey on Campbell's Kitchen, and what we saw was it was very labor intensive and we weren't getting the traction."
VP of digital acceleration
Where we're getting to is really being clear on the focus and being mindful of what we're asking for, how we're managing that and only doing that if there's a clear value exchange between us and the consumer.
With so much testing over the past year, what are some of the things that didn't work out?
PRITCHARD: One of the first things we did last summer was try to create a personalized content journey on Campbell's Kitchen, and what we saw was it was very labor intensive and we weren't getting the traction. So we immediately pulled back on it.
Then we looked at machine learning, AI kinds of approaches where you could remove the manual element. Both partnerships with Chicory and One Spot use that technology and are doing a really good job for us.
How has the digital acceleration team itself evolved over the past year?
PRITCHARD: The team has grown tremendously over the last year. When I started last year, it was me and a couple of people. Now there are around eight people.
A big part of my role and the team's role is to build the capabilities within the organization, and we want everybody to be able to go and do these kinds of digital marketing activities. For example, when we did our partnership with Fetch, we set the partnership up and made it enterprise-wide, but then we've empowered the brand teams to go and take that opportunity to run with it in their own brand plan.