By Daniel Hunter

Consumer goods (CG) companies can no longer merely push traditional campaigns through new media channels to reach today’s more product-savvy consumer.

They need to integrate multiple channels to put brands where consumers are, in a way that encourages a more interactive relationship between consumer and producer, not passive consumption of marketing messages.

CG companies appear to be getting the message. In a new Economist Intelligence Unit report, New directions: consumer goods companies hone a cross-channel approach to consumer marketing, sponsored by Oracle, 41% of respondents to a global survey say they expect to sell products directly to consumers over the next year–up from the 24% who currently offer direct sales.

As CG companies continue their experimentation with direct-to-consumer sales–through their own online storefronts or social media–they will need to start thinking more like the retailers with which they have long partnered.

Other key findings include:

· The social media opportunity is finally catching the attention of senior management: 74% of CEO-level respondents say social media is a priority for increasing loyalty over the next 12 months. Nearly twice as many survey respondents (33%) say social media will be a top priority in the next 12 months as those who say it's a priority today (17%) Increasingly, it is not just CG marketers who believe that deeper relationships will enhance brand loyalty and drive product sales, either directly (through digital commerce) or via traditional retail channels.

· Nearly a quarter of CG executives envisage direct-to-consumer replacing retail. Nearly half of survey respondents and other CG executives see their nascent e-commerce efforts as complementary to, rather than alternatives to, existing retail channels. Forty-one percent of respondents say they work with their retail partners on a variety of marketing, sales and service programmes. However, 23% of respondents say that while they collaborate with retail partners, they are also committed to expanding their competing direct-to-consumer strategies.

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