How CPGs Should Use Outdoor Advertising

With so much focus on the amazing potential of digital advertising for CPGs, outdoor strategies can seem, well…a little outdated. But this shouldn’t be the case!

Outdoor advertising is one of the best marketing strategies for CPGs. Why? Because brand awareness is at the heart of CPG success. It’s a tried and tested method of raising recognition and generating sales. 

If you’re launching your own outdoor advertising campaign, look no further. We explain exactly what outdoor advertising is (and the options available), benefits and pitfalls – as well as our top tips for pioneering brands.

Let’s get straight to work.

cpg outdoor marketing

What is outdoor advertising?

Outdoor advertising (or out of home advertising) is an incredibly popular method of offline advertising.

As the name would suggest, it covers pretty much any form of advertising encountered outside of the home. This could include services such as billboards, benches, transit ads, store promotions, posters, and smaller signage.

Before we explore the advantages and disadvantages, here are the main types of outdoor advertising available to CPGs. 

  • Billboards – if you want to make a strong impact and grow your brand, billboards should be top of the CPG outdoor advertising list. With new technology, billboards can also incorporate moving digital images.
  • Transit advertising – adverts and posters on and around public transportation areas (bus, train, subway etc.) as well as adverts attached directly to vehicles with decals. If your vans are already driving around the city – why not take advantage?
  • Street Furniture – use public furniture such as benches, kiosks and street-side signs to display your ads. This is usually an affordable option and targets pedestrians or those with a little more time to stop, sit and watch the world go by.
  • Store advertising – this form of CPG outdoor advertising is usually directly outside stores, inviting customers to shop inside. This could be on walls, roofs or signage, offering significant opportunities for cross-promotion.
  • Events and activities – for more of the human touch, remember it isn’t just about posters and billboards. Events can include product demonstrations, cookery shows, concerts, free trials and tasters. It all builds curiosity and gets people talking.
  • Guerilla tactics – a great strategy for grabbing consumers attention and creating social media buzz. This is a great way of testing out new marketing ideas. Think art installations, large-scale floor ads or flash mobs…the only limit is your imagination.

What are the advantages of CPG outdoor advertising? 

So, you get the impression – there are a lot of possibilities for CPG outdoor advertising.

Many advertisers believe that with the rise of digital marketing outdoor tactics have lost their ability to sell products and raise awareness. There’s no reason why the two can’t work in unison however. If outdoor adverts really didn’t have influence, companies simply wouldn’t invest in them. But how many posters and billboards did you see on your last trip out?

Advantages of outdoor advertising include: 

Reaching customers where they are

People spend a long time commuting to and from work, dropping the kids at school, or walking to and from city center shops. How do you grab their attention during this time? Outdoor advertising of course.

Pervasive yet subtle awareness building 

You simply can’t ignore a billboard or poster the same way you can instantly close a pop-up window. Consumers take-in information without even realizing it, subtly building your brand awareness.

Creative problem solving 

With consistent competition, CPG advertisers work hard to present outdoor advertising in the most eye-catching, effective way possible. New advertising technology only makes this better.

Proven effectiveness 

One study found that 72% of billboard audiences frequently shop on their way home from work, with 24% saying they visited a particular store or bought a specific product because of outdoor ad messaging.

What are the downsides of CPG outdoor advertising?

Outdoor advertising isn’t something to be undertaken on a whim. To run a successful campaign proper research, goal setting and design all need to be approached with care and attention.

Some important issues are:

Manufacturing, maintenance and installation costs

These expenses are simply not present with digital cost-per-click (CPC) options. You don’t want people to get bored with your ads, but there are installation and dismantling costs. How often can you accommodate this?

External weather and conditions 

You’ve invested heavily in an outdoor advertising campaign, but snow and ice cover your design? What about bad weather preventing people from going out, or a discontinued bus route? These are worst-case scenarios, but worth considering.

Lack of location availability 

Large multinationals invest heavily in CPG outdoor advertising. This means prime locations are often occupied by large companies – sometimes for years and even decades!

Limited room for content 

Whether it’s free tasters or transit advertising, you only have people’s attention for seconds. How can you make sure your key message is communicated? Measurability is also an issue here, how can you gain data on effectiveness and impressions?

cpg outdoor marketing

How to capitalize on CPG outdoor advertising

Given the massive advantages, but also significant pitfalls to navigate – how can you make the most of CPG outdoor advertising? Here are our four top takeaways: 

1. Location, location…

Billboards are still viable – but only if placed correctly. No matter how great your design team is, or how tantalizing your products – if your outdoor ad is nowhere near retail stores or consumers daily routes, then it won’t be effective.

Before creating your advert, think carefully about the audience who you want to target. Where do they live? Where do they shop? How old are they and what are their key personas and shopping decisions? It’s all important for creating a successful campaign.

2. Don’t ignore digital

Just because you’re running an outdoor advertising campaign – digital analysis should still play a part! To find that perfect location, adopt a segmentation, targeting and positioning (STP) approach. This involves using digital analysis and data to select the most valuable audience segments for your CPG and position your outdoor advertising effectively.

We’ve already written about the best ways to use analytics for CPG brands, so take a look at this. Focus on collecting first-party data about your audiences (for instance through websites, retailer data, social media engagement, surveys and subscriptions) to build in-depth consumer persona profiles. This will all be useful for geotargeting high-value audiences with laser sharp precision.

3. Bring it home

When you’re thinking about creating a CPG outdoor advertising campaign – the most important data is your customer’s home addresses. Once you’ve found out where your demographics live, outdoor marketing allows you to raise awareness on home turf. 

Drilling down to small and mid-sized markets will make a big difference to your bottom-line. After all, home is where the heart is. Visibility breeds familiarity, familiarity increases trust – and more trust means enhanced sales and loyal customers. So what are you waiting for!? 

4. Design is everything

CPG outdoor advertising relies on brilliant design. This incorporates color schemes (building on your brand identity – but considering advertising needs), blank space (yes, this is important!), imaginative imagery and clear, concise messaging. 

Audiences will quickly forget about your ad if it doesn’t leave a lasting impression – so really spend time planning the design. It’s absolutely essential.

Buffalo Market helps brilliant brands grow their business. 

We are the leading distributor of mission-driven food and beverage brands, specializing in CPGs that are good for the earth and good for you. To get your products in the right stores and in front of consumers – get in touch today. We’re adding new brands to our trucks every day. Let’s start a partnership.


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