NEW YORK: Brands in the FMCG category which are seeking to drive up ecommerce sales may need to consider emotional factors as well as rational ones, a leading executive from Reckitt Benckiser has argued.

Michele McNamara, the firm's etailing team leader/food, drug and mass, discussed its work with ecommerce site Peapod at the Brand Activation Association's (BAA) Marketing to the Omni-Channel Shopper: EAST 2014 event.

Reckitt, which makes brands like Finish and Veet, began leveraging Peapod as a distribution channel around three years ago, and has thus gained an insight into the incentives and hurdles relating to habits in this space.

"The mom who is shopping on Peapod: she still has a certain amount of guilt about not going to the store and picking out each and every grocery, [piece of] produce, steaks, or even the Cheerios," said McNamara.

"She has guilt about doing that. So if we can somehow take that guilt away as a barrier for her, she's more likely to engage." (For more, including how the company has sought to build online sales, read Warc's exclusive report: Reckitt Benckiser and Peapod put emotion into ecommerce.)

Reckitt has, in the first instance, sought to ensure that factors like its product selection and pricing are the same on Peapod as they are in bricks-and-mortar stores.

However, McNamara suggested that the right digital strategy does not simply involve duplicating what is happening in physical stores.

"It's really about emotions," she said. "Yes, it's great to tie in with how mom's acting in store. But I need to figure out a way to layer Peapod on top of what's happening in store."

A recent report from Kantar Worldpanel, the research firm, predicted that annual ecommerce sales in the FMCG sector will hit $53bn worldwide by 2016, compared with $36bn at present.

The study also discussed the obstacles that prevent brands and retailers from placing more emphasis on this channel – and asserted they were often "perceived rather than based on how consumers actually behave".

Among the main concerns were that digital sales would cannibalise the in-store equivalent, and that online shopping will erode brand loyalty. According to Kantar Worldpanel, the opposite is true in both cases.

Data sourced from Warc