How Brands Like Aveda and Kraft Heinz Are Unlocking the Value of Full-Funnel Marketing

Illustration of a shopping cart being filled by a funnel

By Ryan Olohan

Today’s consumer moves seamlessly across online and offline channels to find what they need. A person might discover a product through a digital ad, head to a brick-and-mortar store to check it out, and then use their phone for price comparison and further research. The path to purchase is complex, and it varies considerably by vertical and by individual shopping preferences. Many marketers know this. For years, they have heard that a holistic, full-funnel approach is critical for meeting customers where they are. Now we have the data to prove it.

A recent Nielsen meta-analysis of CPG campaigns found that full-funnel strategies see up to 45% higher ROI and 7% increases in offline sales compared to marketing campaigns across a single purchase stage.1 The data takes into account over 1,300 unique campaigns across 20 different CPG brands, spanning personal care, beauty, food, beverage, home care, and more. Regardless of the category, the implications are clear: full-funnel marketing gets results. Let’s look at two leading CPG brands that have internalized this lesson to their advantage.

Applying a new full-funnel strategy with winning results

For brands that have traditionally focused more on the middle of the funnel, Nielsen found that additional investment in upper- or lower-funnel tactics with Google Ads drives 52% more incremental sales over investing in mid-funnel tactics alone.2 This was certainly true for hair care and body care brand Aveda, which is owned by Estée Lauder Companies.

Despite the meteoric rise in popularity of at-home beauty treatments during the pandemic, Aveda sales weren’t keeping pace with expectations for new customer recruitment, even with their paid media efforts. The company realized that focusing on mid- to lower-funnel media meant it simply wasn’t meeting target consumers where they were spending the most time.

Beginning in the third quarter of 2021, Aveda’s marketing team created a full-funnel YouTube Ads strategy to increase awareness and brand desirability among key segments and, ultimately, win new customers. They created target personas through a mix of Google and first-party audiences. They then mapped their creative and audiences to the right tactical mix of YouTube ad formats.

We identified an opportunity to increase awareness and brand desirability among key segments and bring new consumers to our brand.

The results were undeniable: Aveda saw double-digit increases in website sessions, a double-digit year-over-year increase in search impressions, and significant increases in searches for “Aveda salons near me.” The Aveda Invati product line also experienced strong brand lift in users considering the franchise for purchase (compared to a control group). Overall, Aveda’s North American sales rose significantly as did the sales for the franchise of the campaign. And Aveda exceeded its new customer acquisition goals in North America during this time.

“The results to our business were immediate, with quick lifts in highly qualified traffic just after our full-funnel campaign launched,” said Aveda head of North American marketing Theresa Block. “With our targeted strategy and sufficiency of investment, we identified an opportunity to increase awareness and brand desirability among key segments and bring new consumers to our brand.”

Bringing lower-funnel tactics into play

The Kraft Heinz Company has always been a top-of-funnel marketing machine, but in line with Nielsen data, it has flipped the script. Nielsen found that brands traditionally focused only on upper-funnel tactics experience 20% more incremental sales when they also invest in mid- or lower-funnel tactics with Google Ads.3

Any consumer friction on purchases means we have to be where they are and anticipate their needs at whatever stage of the funnel they’re in.

Over the past three to four years, Kraft Heinz has shifted its media mix to be about 70% digital. One reason is that the company’s testing of lower-funnel tactics, such as e-commerce, is making big inroads with CPG shoppers.

“It is critical for us to leverage lower-funnel tactics, like search, because it helps fuel our first-party data strategy, as well as answer consumers’ questions when they have them,” explains Sanjiv Gajiwala, U.S. chief growth officer of The Kraft Heinz Company. “What better way to reach them [than] when they are literally searching for answers?”

During this period of rebalancing toward lower-funnel consideration stages, Kraft Heinz has become a faster-moving and more data-driven company, implementing agile disciplines and digital solutions across its entire value chain to accelerate growth. And through the use of Google technology, it expects to significantly enhance consumer engagement by tapping into search behaviors to deliver personalized content at scale. For example, by moving from separate TrueView buys to a single Video Reach Campaign buy, the company can activate machine learning to more nimbly identify the right person to view an ad. Part of the Kraft Heinz team’s new YouTube strategy, in collaboration with their media agency, Starcom, has been to further lean into machine learning to find the right person to serve an ad at scale. To enable this, they leaned into Video Reach Campaign formats on YouTube, and as a result have seen increases in view rates and an 11% year-over-year decrease in costs per impression.

“Any consumer friction on purchases means we have to be where they are and anticipate their needs at whatever stage of the funnel they’re in,” Gajiwala said. “Partnerships with companies like Google help us understand through data with industrial-scale tech to improve our media activation, understand the journey from owned through earned and paid properties, and better build messages and innovations for the right moments.”

Pivoting to meet customers where they are

Aveda and Kraft Heinz have united around a common theme — meeting customers where they are. And that means addressing them at every stage of the sales funnel to raise brand awareness, answer questions prepurchase, and nurture people through final decision-making. Now that we have the data in hand, full-funnel marketing has never looked better or been more critical to business success.

To learn more about how Aveda and Kraft Heinz applied full-funnel tactics to their strategies, tune into CPG On Air: Planning for a Consumer-Centric Approach, using the access code CPG.

This article first appeared on Think with Google.

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