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The KPIs that matter on Colgate Palmolive's digital shelf

The consumer goods company offered a behind the scenes look at its approach to clean rooms, TikTok and the digital shelf.

Colgate signage near body of water

Continuous learning, creativity and adaptability to change are driving Colgate Palmolive as the 200-year-old consumer goods company forges ahead in an increasingly digital economy.

That was among the takeaways that executives from the company shared on a recent webinar to highlight key initiatives in data and commerce that are helping brands in the Colgate Palmolive portfolio reach new audiences, and transforming how the company operates.

Here are three examples of innovation in how Colgate Palmolive sells products, and reaches consumers:

Digital shelf goes omnichannel

About 60% of sales in the U.S. are digitally influenced. That means brands must understand and ultimately master the digital shelf, just as they spent years focusing on the physical shelf.

The company isn’t only considering ecommerce. Colgate Palmolive believes that the digital shelf is critical for omnichannel commerce that stretches across both physical and digital stores.

It helps that there are plenty of learnings to apply from the planograms of the past.

“In-store considerations like being on-shelf and on-location, our beautiful packaging and our product reputation all have online equivalents in the digital and ecommerce world,” said Colgate Palmolive Chief Digital Officer Brigitte King. “For example, are we in-stock online with successful search placements, product detail page content and quality ratings and reviews? The consumer toggles between in-store and online shopping as a natural habit now, so we have to think about both all of the time.”

Digital tools unlock the ability to gather and analyze data on each part of the digital shelf. That’s why everything gets measured at Colgate Palmolive, King said.

When it comes to the digital shelf, King shared four key KPIs tracked by the company:

  • Availability: Is the inventory available to order and in-stock online?
  • Retail search: Is a product on page one and above the fold, whether organically or with paid search?
  • Content: Is it connecting with consumers no matter where they are?
  • Ratings and reviews: Are they plentiful, positive and recent?

Sharing data at Hill's

The ability to bring data together in one place can bring huge advantages to brands and retailers seeking to unlock key insights to grow their business. It follows then, that sharing data across organizations is even more powerful.

That’s why Colgate Palmolive portfolio brand Hill’s Pet Nutrition built a data clean room with a retailer partner.

Clean rooms are spaces where organizations can share data, while protecting identifying details about customers and proprietary information. They’re becoming particularly important as privacy-oriented changes in advertising are leading to a bigger embrace of first-party data.

This type of data is collected from purchases and loyalty programs, so it contains rich insights about customers and their purchase intent. However, unlike third party data and cookies, there are limitations on how it can travel and be used outside the walled garden of a platform or retailer’s marketplace.

The clean room is a space where brands and retailers can unlock insights from the data that can be applied to different areas of a business. Areas of interest to the team of data scientists and advanced analytics professionals at Hill’s have included purchase patterns, personalization in advertising and reaching new audiences with content.

One question the team has explored is how to increase household penetration of products by discovering or reaching audiences that may be new to a category, or likely to switch brands, said Diana Schildhouse, Colgate Palmolive’s Chief Analytics and Insights Officer.

“Given cookie deprecation and the growing importance of and investment in first party data, we see these types of strategic data part as important drivers of innovation and growth for Colgate as well as for our partners,” Schildhouse said.

The clean room approach echoes what executives have said is a key to innovation in ecommerce at Colgate Palmolive: Hill’s is piloting a new tool, and sharing learnings that can be applied to brands across the company.

TikTok skinfluencers boost EltaMD

During the pandemic, the team at the CP Skin Health division saw how people were paying closer attention to their skincare routine as a way to reduce stress and increase wellness. They also recognized the rise of TikTok.

These two trends ended up coming together as the company launched a presence for the sun care and skincare brand EltaMD on TikTok.

Through partnerships, they set out to provide content on the short-form video platform that was both educational and informational about skincare and sunscreen. A key to delivering the message was the ability to carry trust and credibility, especially as the brand sought to combat the misinformation that can spread on social media. So the team partnered with dermatologists, estheticians and other skin professionals, and amplified successful short-form videos with advertising.

As the content gained traction, EltaMD launched its own TikTok channel by the end of 2021 and soon scaled to 69,000 users in less than a year. A feature with Hailey Bieber that gained 25 million views helped to propel it further.

“By identifying and leaning into trends, ensuring that we align our digital experiments with the needs of our brands and then testing into that opportunity, we were able to reach new audiences, build brand awareness and drive conversion for EltaMD,” said Echo Sandburg, chief marketing officer at CP SkinHealth.

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