The New CPG Customer Journey

Imagine coming home tired after a day at the office, sipping your favorite wine and checking emails - and voila, you receive a personalized treat from your favorite fitness meal subscription. 

It’s a tiny thing for the brand, but it’s a nice treat for you. Tiny delights can add up to an incredible customer experience, and in the current CPG subscription landscape, your customers aren’t following the average b2c customer journey. Delightful experiences and small touches make all the difference.

In a post-pandemic sea of fragmented and fast-paced digital marketing experiences, shoppers are growing savvier and more cautious about their brand choices. 

With sophisticated shopping toolkits at the ready, consumers have high expectations from their CPG brand experiences. They don’t just want to be informed about products; they want to connect with brand’s on a personal level- they want to know if the CEO’s dog is a therapy dog, or if a portion of all profits goes to a specific charity.
Consumers want to interact with brands so when it comes time to choose a subscription, they already know which fits the bill. Essentially, consumer’s demand an experience that transcends the typical “awareness, consider, and purchase” model. 

To stand out from the crowd, CPG companies are investing in new experiences. Instead of putting a new bow on a traditional marketing campaign, top companies focus on building lasting brand loyalty. 

In this blog post, we will explore how leading CPG brands personalize journeys designed around real customer needs instead of product attributes or sales channels. 

What is a “Typical” Customer Buying Journey? 

A customer journey is a map that outlines each customer's path throughout their lifetime with a specific brand. It breaks down the various touch points throughout this journey and how they affect the customer’s decision-making process. 

Before implementing the new “customer-centric experience,” the typical CPG customer journey involved awareness, interest/search, research, purchase, and experience. 

The journey started with awareness-building efforts like advertising and influencer marketing. From there, customers would evaluate their options and choose which brands best suit their needs. They would then purchase the products that best fit their lifestyles before finally using them and sharing their experience with others. 


Why the Difference for a CPG Brand?

Even though the traditional customer journey effectively drives sales, it doesn’t always create brand loyalty. In addition, a customer journey that focuses on the end goal of purchase, and nothing more, can be limiting. 

Within the CPG space, this “purchase-only” mentality can lead to brand repurchase rates that hover between 10% and 20%. Despite substantial brand equity, high advertising awareness, and a solid product selection, some consumers don’t come back for another purchase. These consumers have other priorities or life changes that cause them to focus on spending elsewhere. Brands must re-examine their customer relationships by looking in the mirror and realizing it's time for a makeover!

The purchase phase itself is three different phases for brands:

1. Purchase once

2. Subscribe

3. Cancel subscription

The new CPG customer journey eliminates the third step--cancelling the subscription. With Rodeo’s “just-in-time” subscription feature, consumers are always kept within the lifecycle because they are given control over the cadence of when they receive products. Ultimately, this can help increase a brand’s LTV. 

The “New” Customer Journey for a CPG Brand

A customer journey that places a strong emphasis on product and brand repurchase rates looks quite different from the traditional approach outlined above. This new journey is centered around real consumer needs. It places a renewed emphasis on the individual and their interactions with your brand.


What does that look like?  The new CPG customer journey is: Content Interest, Community Engagement, One-time Purchase, Subscribe, and Just-in-time subscribers. Let’s break down each of these phases for clarity.

1. Content Interest

With the advent of social media and the rise of influencer marketing, brands entered the digital space with a heavy focus on awareness-building. For example, you would recognize Dunkin Donuts immediately if you saw the pink and orange letters up ahead. Brand awareness takes brand recognition a step further. 

Consumers, however, desired to do more than be aware of products; they wanted to be part of them. With this in mind, CPG brands have begun to shift their focus from awareness to interest. They have started to create content that invites customers to engage with their favorite brands in innovative ways.

Dove uses social media to create campaigns that resonate well with the audience’s emotions. Its posts gather more attention than most of the other CPG brands, as reported by Brandwatch

2. Community Engagement

A brand’s social media presence should be more than solely a place for consumers to go when they are interested in purchasing a product. Instead, community engagement channels should be a space where consumers can communicate with one another about their experiences with your products. 

It can mean letting consumers join a mailing list to stay updated on new offers, or engaging in social media content and UGC (user-generated content). 

Community engagement isn’t simply about repurchasing, but rather about creating an environment where customers feel comfortable sharing their challenges and successes with products. It’s a place where they can ask questions, troubleshoot problems, and find new ways to put your products to good use. When a brand’s social media channels are more than just a place to purchase products, they become a place to build lifelong relationships with other customers.

For example, Olipop has nailed this part of its consumer journey that just the name  Their rewards program and how they personally connect with the customer in their buying experience creates a strong community of loyal consumers and Olipop fans.

3. A la Carte Buyer

An a la carte buyer is someone who has purchased a product at one point in time, but for various reasons, has no intention of making another purchase. While this kind of consumer doesn’t necessarily fit into the traditional customer journey, they do fit into the new customer-centric experience. 

The best approach to turning an a la carte consumer into a regular subscriber is to create an experience that keeps them coming back for more. A la carte buyers are often on the hunt for the best deal. They can be price-sensitive and frugal when it comes to their purchases. 

For brands that want to keep a la carte buyers returning, it is best to create experiences that cater to their needs.

4. Subscribe

Subscribers are consumers who have pay regularly for for consistent product deliveries. This can be anything from a monthly delivery of vitamins to a quarterly box full of specialty tea. The core of the subscription model is to deliver a consumer’s favorite products without them having to think about it.

The way that most traditional brands approach the subscription experience is the same way that they approach a one-time purchase. Mainly, brands focus on upselling their best products and enticing customers to purchase the most expensive subscriptions. Then, they offer coupons for additional products and promotional items but leave the subscription experience largely untouched. 

While this is an effective way to increase sales, it doesn’t add much value to the customer experience. Instead, brands should focus on creating subscription experiences with all customer-centric elements that make the overall brand experience great.

Jot, a CPG coffee brand, has reimagined how we drink our daily cup of Joe. They offer coffee concentrate subscriptions and a la carte purchases. To encourage their frequent a la carte buyers to become members and subscribers, they offer special  seasonal flavors. The flavors change frequently and match consumer tastes, so it’s a welcome addition to their regular coffee subscription. 

5. Just-In-Time Subscriber

A just-in-time subscriber is someone who has shown interest in a brand and subscribed for a short period of time, but wants to cancel their subscription. This is the segment of buyers that most CPG brands forget to nurture and loose out on re-engaging them as regular subscribers. 

CPG subscription brands can leverage Rodeo’s just-in-time subscription feature so that the consumer controls the cadence of when they receive products based on their own need. As a plus, they remain a subscriber of the product. This way, they'll receive discounts and rewards at a set time limit (for example, to keep ordering at a discount they have to purchase at least once every 60 days; otherwise, they lose their discount).

The most important part of nurturing a just in time buyer is to understand that just because they don’t want or need your product at the same rate today, doesn’t mean they aren’t fans of your product. Keeping these consumers in your customer journey cycle means they aren’t forgotten and can potentially become consistent subscribers again.

Stand out from the Circus with Rodeo

The new customer journey centers around real consumer need. This experience creates a personalized connection to the brand that most one-time purchases and coupon-based promotions simply can’t match.

The CPG subscription space is dynamic, where trends rise and fall frequently. Be one of the brands that thrive by adapting to the ever-changing demands of consumers.  

By investing in the customer-centric experience, brands can create meaningful connections with customers and foster long-term loyalty. You can achieve this by signing up for Rodeo - the only subscription experience app that comes with expert guidance.

Written by
Archita Sharma