Tuesday, June 14, 2011

P&G Makes Second Attempt at Social Sales

Procter & Gamble wants to sell its consumer goods through Facebook. According to AdAge, the consumer goods company is calling it "social network selling" and they believe that it can "accelerate their e-commerce growth," an area they aren't particularly known for. That may be for good reason, however. This is P&G's second attempt at trying to convert the social media outlet into a sales channel. The first one failed because of internal concerns of alienating their retail partners as well as technical issues with their product fulfillment partner, Amazon, creating a "poor user experience."

The second time around, they believe they have corrected all the pitfalls. Since its relaunch, their own ecommerce site handles fulfillment. Meanwhile, P&G is working with their traditional retail partners like Walmart to join in the effort as alternatives for the consumer to choose from. While P&G may have corrected the technical problems with its ecommerce initiative on Facebook, I don't believe they corrected the real issue that caused it to fail. There are fundamental problems with the strategy of selling via Facebook commerce, the true reason for its failure.

A lot of it has to do with how marketers frame their challenges. My guess is, the marketers at P&G began with the problem of how the company can leverage the social media platform to drive sales further. However, the real questions that needed to answered are: What benefit does the new channel give to the customer? Why go to Facebook for my P&G stuff and go elsewhere to buy everything all at once? Especially since "elsewhere" is a place many people already buy that stuff at anyhow? But Facebook is not that place. It was built for social stuff and has always been driven by things like party pictures and relationship statuses, not shopping carts and order confirmations.

Whether marketers like it or not, the true social experiences are going to continue to be the reason for the new media, which is a fact that isn't going to change anytime soon. Facebook commerce might as well be a square peg going into a round hole.

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