Case Study: How Mars’ Pedigree Acquired New Customers Through Online Sampling In Just 2 Months
The Southeast Asia pet food market is growing tremendously. In Asia, the annual growth rate is expected to be 25% in India, 14% in Thailand & Indonesia and 10% in China & the Philippines. Global spending is only expected to grow, especially in developing regions such as Southeast Asia, thanks to urbanization, popularity of the internet and an increase in pet-product information availability.
However, there is only a scarce number of brands in Southeast Asia that offer an attractive selection of pet products online.
To take advantage of this opportunity and test the demand for pet food online, Mars Petcare, one of the world’s leading pet care providers launched an online sampling campaign using aCommerce’s e-sampling platform.
About the Campaign
aCommerce, Southeast Asia’s leading full service ecommerce enabler for brands, helped set up the online sampling website for two of Mars’ top portfolio brands, Pedigree and Whiskas in the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand markets.
Pedigree is the world’s leading pet food brand that has been providing households with quality dog food since 1957. As a market leader with 30% market share, they are dedicated to providing customers and their pets with the best ingredients and can be found easily at major supermarkets, pet shops and now online on Southeast Asian marketplaces.
The campaign was marketed across social channels such as Facebook, where audiences are targeted based on the parameters like lifestyle, age, interest and online social browsing behavior. The pet owners simply had to click on the campaign link, share their pet type, name, breed, email and address to receive a free sample delivered to their homes.
aCommerce also handled the entire fulfillment and delivery process from picking and packing the product samples to shipping them off to the home of the consumer.
In just over a one month, 100,000 users registered online to receive the PEDIGREE® free samples across Philippines and Thailand. Its product samples include puppy and adult food, a discount coupon to be used for the next purchase, and an information booklet regarding a dog’s well-balanced diet. Phase 1 ‘Try PEDIGREE®’ campaign launched earlier in May 2017 saw 60,000 user registrations in Metro Manila within just 2 weeks.
Benefits of Online Sampling
As the pet food landscape is growing, these campaigns aim to create a strong brand awareness online that will result in sales. Brands are able to promote and test out their new selection of products nationwide at scale, and gain valuable feedback from customers in real time. This can be utilized to optimize the product, communication activities, and sales in the future.
Online sampling provides brands direct access to valuable consumer data via the registration for samples. That information can be further analyzed and used to retarget the consumers to purchase on the brands’ official stores on marketplaces.
It also provides brands with useful insights to understand the demographics, feeding habits, preferences and perceptions of the consumers about their products. For example, Mars Petcare found out that people in the Philippines’ city centers tend to own smaller dogs, with the most popular being Shih Tzu breed. Also, younger dogs are more likely to eat manufactured food while older dogs were fed more home cooked meals.
It’s a potential gateway to a brand.com in addition to a marketplace strategy. Through an online platform, brands can offer delivery, a wide product selection and even package deals, product bundles, subscriptions or a variation of discount strategies to further incentivize shoppers.
Online sampling is a great way for brands to maximize their marketing opportunities. For example, in the PEDIGREE® Philippines case, many people who received the free samples went on social media to share pictures of their dogs with the package received. This led to additional, organic and free exposure for the Pedigree brand.
It’s a cost-effective way for brands to capture the attention of pet-owners via interesting content marketing.
Fuelling Growth with aCommerce E-Sampling Platform
“aCommerce is able to make the entire campaign effective for brands and easy to implement because of the one-stop service approach. We take care of the fulfillment and delivery of the brands’ samples, in addition to providing the digital dashboard to track the real-time sampling performance, delivery status, and reporting,” said Mandy Arbilo, Regional Head of Direct-To-Consumer Ecommerce at aCommerce
- Mars Petcare initially partnered with aCommerce to leverage its offline popularity for more awareness online via the ‘Try PEDIGREE®’ campaign launched in May 2017. It started with PEDIGREE®, the best performing brand under its portfolio.
- Established cost-effective strategy to acquire new customers by building awareness via facebook ads, where key online influencers and multiple pet owners in the Philippines took to social media to thank the campaign for the free samples.
- Fully integrated with social media in the Philippines. 40% of campaign sign ups were driven from the popular social channel Facebook.
- It had a viral effect, leading to 60,000 free dog food samples distributed to pet owners in Metro Manila within two weeks.
- Deliveries were made within 2-5 days.
- The success lead to a phase two launch of the campaign in the Philippines as well as Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia for two of their top portfolio brands, PEDIGREE® and Whiskas.
- More scalable website set up where brands can have the e-sampling website ready to be launched in just two weeks. Standard features include an integration set up with the aCommerce platform, social login, no duplicate registrations, OTP verification, information matching with sample product, registration report and dashboard, amongst others.
- Sampling website with customizable features such as colors, background images and dropdown boxes can be launched in up to three weeks.
“aCommerce has helped us gain deeper insights into our target consumers. Through their e-sampling platform, we have acquired a valuable database which is being used to drive users from “try-to-buy” for our products, available on online marketplaces in the region. The data enables us to make the customer experience in our ecommerce partner ‘shop-in-shops’ more personalized than ever,” said Khachitporn Kruajaruskul PEDIGREE® Marketing Manager, Southeast Asia.
Behind the Scenes of Online Sampling Platform
Fulfillment and delivery is an important factor in the last-mile online shopping experience. If integrated well, it can build trust with consumers leading to their online product adoption.
- Traditional sampling campaigns are done with the goal to get as many products out as possible. However, there is less interaction for brands to actually understand who the target consumers are. There is a lack of immediate feedback, due to a manual processing gap leading to an inability to scale. Brands also lose touch with the consumer as soon as they walk away. With e-sampling, brands have the visibility into valuable data for tracking their exact target customers from start to finish, leading to more sales conversions. The reports from surveying before signing up for a sample also enable brands to understand what drives the customers to try a certain product.
- aCommerce has a dedicated squad in the operations team to manage order fulfillment that include picking and packing, so that all products are sure to be delivered within the time promised without any errors.
- PEDIGREE® distributed 100,000 samples across Philippines and Thailand. Its product samples include puppy and adult food, a discount coupon to be used for the next purchase, and an information booklet regarding a dog’s well-balanced diet.
- 20% of dog owners in the Philippines and 25% in Thailand give their pets dry dog food as the main meal.
As there are only a few brands in Southeast Asia that offer pet food products online, more than 60% of pets are still fed homemade pet food or leftover scraps. E-sampling is therefore a good option for traditional brands that want to test the waters for ecommerce. It is also a good platform to acquire new users.
The bulkiness of pet food packages, large range of products and frequency in consumption make the product an extremely viable candidate for ecommerce.
“In developing regions like Southeast Asia, the pet product market is still an emerging market and the pet food business is growing rapidly,” says Neil Wang, global partner and president for Greater China at Frost & Sullivan. “In line with the region’s economic growth, an increasing number of people consider animals as family members and are willing to make purchases for them.”
Having now a large database of over 150,000 of dog and cat lovers, Mars Petcare is in a great position to leverage its consumer data and pilot the next stage: “try-to-buy”, which allows users to purchase the Pedigree and Whiskas products online.