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Retail media’s growth is continuing across apps. The latest is Uber Eats, which is adding sponsored items to the grocery and shopping experience.
Uber Eats partnered with Criteo Commerce Media to add the new advertising option for CPG brands who are looking to promote brands and products. Sponsored items are listed on search results, similar to how advertising is displayed on Amazon and other marketplaces.
In the coming months, Uber Eats said it plans to launch additional formats, surfaces and markets.
“Uber is uniquely positioned to connect brands with consumers at every stage along the path to purchase," said Travis Colvin, GM of new vertical ads at Uber Eats, in a statement. “As investment behind commerce media continues to accelerate in 2023 and beyond, we’re focused on broadening our capabilities to enable CPG brands to unlock the full potential of Uber’s advertising platform.
PepsiCo served as the alpha partner on the project, which allowed the company to promote brands such as Pepsi, Doritos and Gatorade.
"We are always testing, learning, and experimenting with new platforms to become even more savvy and effective across our ecommerce business,” said Alison Dempsey, head of ecommerce customer marketing at PepsiCo. “...Sponsored Items allows us to connect with Uber customers at the point of purchase, driving awareness and conversion of our brands.”
It’s the latest evolution for Uber Eats from a restaurant-focused delivery service to a full-fledged marketplace offering goods from a vast swath of retailers. The company put a focus on expanding Uber “not eats” last year, and has since advanced capabilities for grocery delivery , as well as grown its assortment through partnerships with stores in convenience and even office categories. On the company’s recent earrings call, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said advertising was a key and fast-growing piece to the puzzle of the business.
“I think we're executing particularly well algorithmically as it relates to improving our marketplace efficiency on the delivery side, higher percentage of batching orders, and using deep-learning techniques to drive down cost per transaction on the delivery side,” Khosrowshahi told analysts. “You add on top of that our advertising product, which continues to grow at high rates – advertisers are up 70% year on year using our platform.”
Introducing advertising yields additional revenue opportunities for the platform. It also stands to become more valuable as the assortment grows: The more products available, the more sought-after premium space becomes. Plus, the Uber Eats’ data could prove valuable for advertisers across the web, leading to an additional business line.
“Delivery is no longer restaurant-based – it’s all-things commerce – and Uber is paving the way for the industry by developing advertising solutions that integrate commerce moments into consumers’ daily lives,” said Brian Gleason, Chief Revenue Officer of Criteo, in a statement.
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Campbell Soup Company CEO Mark Clouse offered thoughts on messaging amid inflationary shifts in consumer behavior.
After months of elevated inflation and interest rate hikes that have the potential to cool demand, consumers are showing more signs of shifting behavior.
It’s showing up in retail sales data, but there’s also evidence in the observations of the brands responsible for grocery store staples.
The latest example came this week from Campbell Soup Company. CEO Mark Clouse told analysts that the consumer continues to be “resilient” despite continued price increases on food, but found that “consumers are beginning to feel that pressure” as time goes on.
This shows up in the categories they are buying. Overall, Clouse said Campbell sees a shift toward shelf-stable items, and away from more expensive prepared foods.
There is also change in when they make purchases. People are buying more at the beginning of the month. That’s because they are stretching paychecks as long as possible.
These shifts change how the company is communicating with consumers.
Clouse said the changes in behavior are an opportunity to “focus on value within our messaging without necessarily having to chase pricing all the way down.”
“No question that it's important that we protect affordability and that we make that relevant in the categories that we're in," Clouse said. "But I also think there's a lot of ways to frame value in different ways, right?”
A meal cooked with condensed soup may be cheaper than picking up a frozen item or ordering out. Consumers just need a reminder. Even within Campbell’s own portfolio, the company can elevate brands that have more value now, even if they may not always get the limelight.
The open question is whether the shift in behavior will begin to show up in the results of the companies that have raised prices. Campbell’s overall net sales grew 5% for the quarter ended April 30, while gross profit margins held steady around 30%. But the category-level results were more uneven. U.S. soup sales declined 11%, though the company said that was owed to comparisons with the quarter when supply chains reopened a year ago and expressed confidence that the category is seeing a longer-term resurgence as more people cook at home following the pandemic. Snacks, which includes Goldfish and Pepperidge Farm, were up 12% And while net sales increased overall, the amount of products people are buying is declining. Volumes were down 7%.
These are trends happening across the grocery store. Campbell is continuing to compete. It is leading with iconic brands, and a host of different ways to consume them. It is following that up with innovation that makes the products stand out. Then, it is driving home messaging that shows consumers how to fit the products into their lives, and even their tightening spending plans.
Campbell Soup is more than 150 years old, and has seen plenty of difficult economic environments. It is also a different business today, and will continue to evolve. At the end of the day, continued execution is what’s required.
“If it's good food, people are going to buy it, especially if it's a great value,” Clouse said.