22. June 2024

Digital Marketing Maturity of the German FMCG Industry

  1. Which FMCG brands and categories are most advanced in Germany?
  2. What Sets Leaders Apart?
  3. How does the German FMCG Industry compare to an advanced market such as the US?

If you are a brand manager, digital marketing manager, CMO or Sales Director in the FMCG industry, you may have asked yourself these questions before. We now have the answer! Follow along and see how your brand or your competitor performed in this study. Don’t see either? Then use it to learn which brands are setting the standards for digital maturity in your market.

Why we did this

At Watersky Digital, we constantly analyze brands and retailers in various industries. Our work in the FMCG industry has led us to discover interesting patterns when it comes to digital marketing maturity.

How we arrived at our Results

Before we delve into how brands performed, let’s familiarize you with our analytical methodology.

The Watersky analytical framework uses competitive benchmarking to compare brands to each other and therefore define standards that reflect the reality for each industry and each market.

For the FMCG industry benchmarking study, we analyzed the Digital Marketing presence of 25 leading FMCG brands in Germany. This then allowed us to define the norm in this sector.

Brands across various FMCG sub-sectors analyzed in the Study
Brands across various FMCG sub-sectors analyzed in the Study

We then added 13 category leaders from the United States as a global competitive benchmark. This allowed us to measure the digital marketing maturity of German brands against a market we know to be more advanced. 

Each brand is measured against 6 digital channels

  • Mobile Website
  • Desktop Website
  • Search Optimization
  • eCommerce
  • Social Media
  • eCRM

What is actually measured

The analysis uses 200+ quantitative and qualitative factors to assess the digital marketing performance of each brand from a consumer’s perspective. It combines data from 30+ tools, supplemented with normed qualitative data on factors such as UX, Social Media Design etc.

Watersky Digital's Proprietary Analytical Methodology - The Sky Engine
Watersky Digital’s Proprietary Analytical Methodology – The Sky Engine

Now that you know how we conducted our study, let’s reflect on each of the three questions and see what the data showed us!

  1. Which FMCG brands and categories are most advanced in Germany?
  2. What Sets Leaders Apart?
  3. How does the German FMCG Industry compare to an advanced market such as the US?

Digital Marketing Maturity of FMCG Categories & Brands

Our data showed us some expected results. For instance, Nivea & Kérastase emerged as undisputed leaders. However, the data still managed to reveal some surprises. 

Home care brands, even advanced ones such as Persil clearly lag behind other categories. The hygiene category showed surprisingly strong performance with Pampers & Colgate gaining above average scores.

Digital Marketing Maturity in FMCG Industry Subsectors Measured by Parent Company
Digital Marketing Maturity in FMCG Industry Subsectors Measured by Parent Company

Broad range of scores seen across the FMCG Industry

The industry has a broader range of scores compared to industries with lower digital marketing maturity such as health care. Similarly, the spread of scores is also wider-ranging compared to more advanced industries like consumer electronics.

There is a 10 percentage point difference between the average score of home care brands in this study compared to skincare brands.

But even within each category, brands showcase a wide range of scores. For example, in the hair category, Plantur 39 has a maturity score of 47% while Kérastase has a score of 66% showing a gap of 20 percentage points. 

In the FMCG sector, the belief is often that users tend to buy products in offline settings. However, brands such as Kérastase, L’Oréal, Pampers, etc. have understood that digital marketing channels do not just affect online sales. They can also bear an impact in the offline world.

Why Digital Maturity Matters in the FMCG Industry?

Users interact with digital channels in every stage of the consumer journey – not just during the purchase stage. 

They seek information, compare and consider products, purchase them online and have post-purchase experiences such as leaving reviews or signing up for loyalty programs. All of these steps are carried out through digital channels as much as in an offline setting.

While most of the industry is yet to catch up, leading brands have already started leveraging digital to support each stage of the journey. 

Let’s take a look at what truly sets leaders apart.

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Digital Maturity Among FMCG Leaders

As noted previously, FMCG brands vary vastly in how much they have developed their presence on each digital channel. 

Websites tend to be the most uniformly optimized channel across the industry. Similarly, heavy attention is also paid to eCommerce as a channel whether it is directing users to brands’ own websites or leveraging features on retailers like Amazon.

Channel Maturity in Each Category
Channel Maturity in Each Category

Channels such as Search, Social Media, CRM (newsletters & loyalty programs) are yet to achieve uniform maturity in the industry. Get a free copy of the full report to see how brands vary in their channel optimization levels.

Leaders have found a way to support users across the consumer journey cycle. Let’s review this through a couple of examples:

Kérastase is an example of a brand that understands the importance of the pre-purchase or info-seeking stage. On their website, users can interact with their search function to fulfill different purposes:

  1. Learn which product offerings suit their query
  2. Learn which categories may have products that solve their need
  3. Read up on content that helps them understand the product and its usage

Navigation is also set up to be intuitive to users. This is achieved by placing the most important shortcuts in an accessible part of the site.

Example showing upper funnel optimization seen on Kérastase's website
Example showing upper funnel optimization seen on Kérastase’s website

Through search and navigation, they are able to support two early consumer journey stage user goals:

  1. Information seeking on the actual product or content related to it.
  2. Portfolio navigation to find the right product from a range of offerings.

What about the later stages of the consumer journey?

It is rare to find FMCG brands with no social presence in recent times. However, how they manage their presence and leverage these platforms can vary widely between brands.

Brands with lower maturity scores may have moderately active accounts and post regularly. However, advanced brands create communities in order to drive lower funnel conversion. They do this by:

  • Tailoring content to the channel 
  • Leveraging influencers or spokespersons that resonate with their audience
  • Being responsive to comments, etc.

The following is an example from Dove, who focuses on converting lower funnel customers through community building. By creating engaging content that is authentic to the brand, Dove can keep users interested in the content posted on their TikTok account.

This content then can feature products, information on how to use them, where to buy them, etc. This type of content will not just be perceived as promotion if a brand truly engages with the community. 

In this example, a user is actively asking where the featured product can be bought and they receive an active response from Dove that creates a strong conversion pathway.

Dove leverages Social Media to create strong pathways in the lower funnel
Dove leverages Social Media to create strong pathways in the lower funnel

Take a look at the full report to learn how leading brands leverage each digital channel.

FMCG Industry Maturity in Germany vs The US

We now know that there are quite a few brands with higher digital marketing maturity scores in Germany. But how does the German market compare to another large and digitally advanced one like the US?

We added roughly half as many American brands to our benchmarking study in order to be able to compare data. Selecting a similar set of brands in the US, yielded the following results:

The US clearly dominates the top 10 positions or ranks in the study. What’s more? It’s not just hair or skincare brands that feature here. Home care brands such as Clorox and Scotts also compete with categories that are more advanced in the German market.

Maturity Rankings Across the FMCG Sector - Germany vs US
Maturity Rankings Across the FMCG Sector – Germany vs US

What makes US Brands more advanced?

There are two ways in which US Brands stand out:

  1. They show more advanced implementations on popular channels such as the brand website.
  2. They leverage channels that are still underutilized in Germany. 

Let’s review this with an example

One of the channels that is still in a very nascent stage in Europe is email marketing or newsletter marketing. In the US, it is more commonplace. This channel is adapted not only by advanced categories such as skin and hair care but also by hygiene brands such as Pampers.

If we compare two hygiene brand examples, one from each country, we can already see the difference.

Brands in Germany that have an email marketing strategy are yet to showcase advanced implementations. Comparing Gillette to Pampers below shows both a higher frequency of newsletters as well as more consistent design applied by Pampers. (Source: milled.com)
Take a look at the full report to see more examples of differences in implementation between Germany and the US.

Differences in Maturity seen in Newsletter or Email Marketing
Differences in Maturity seen in Newsletter or Email Marketing

Want to know more?

Curious about your brand or a competitor? The answer is easy, you can download the full report here by just clicking this button. It’s free, there are no complex forms! 

Interested in benchmarking your brands vs. competitors?
Write us a simple email and let’s get talking: moin@watersky.digital