Online-to-offline (O2O) marketing is designed to translate the growth of online product discovery into in-store sales by bridging two trends: first, consumers are now primarily searching for new products online, and second, the highest volume of retail sales remains at brick and mortar stores, especially for everyday grocery items.
The new way of launching successful products integrates the best practices of digital marketing with traditional retail marketing goals.

What is Online-to-offline (O2O) marketing?

O2O marketing is a full commerce cycle that builds targeted online consumer demand, converts it to in-store purchase, then brings consumers back online to collect their reviews, feedback, and build loyalty with purchasers.

This combination elevates results with better data, better targeting, and a better chance to build direct relationships with consumers.

There are four stages to the O2O consumer journey:

Online discovery

Offline purchase

Post-purchase feedback

Amplification and advocacy

Implement the O2O cycle and you will reap rewards beyond your new product launch:

Get better ROI on marketing across sales channels

Build greater lifetime value (LTV)

Create direct consumer feedback loops

Win with consumers and retailers

Within the cycle are 9 steps to help you convert online browsers into brand evangelists.

We’ll start with the 4 steps in Online Discovery to help you prepare for launch. This first stage meets shoppers where they are, on digital devices seeking online discovery.

Own online discovery in 4 steps

1. Validate your product early

Validate the right audience and eliminate marketing waste early. What do people actually want? What will they pay for?

Use the following questions to help frame your product validation. Then test the concept!

Product category usage

Are you targeting new users or existing?

Is this a net new purchase, or product substitution?

Core consumers

Is the product’s big idea mission-driven?

Are you targeting a certain lifestyle or habit?

Purchase drivers

What are the purchase drivers?

2. Collect data to build your audience

Work with the right online tools to collect data to support building personalized campaigns and relevant audiences that will be ripe for conversion at retail.

Build your target audience with:


Free forums & social listening tools


Keyword research


Evergreen content

3. Hyper-target online to support your retail launch

At this stage, you can start marketing your product.

Effective online awareness-building tactics:

  • Digital and social ads
  • Tag product pages by top-searched attributes
  • Create content relevant to your audience
  • Provide teasers and trials to existing customers
  • Partner with like-minded brands or communities

4. Build trust to create consideration with effective online content

Build advance purchase confidence through reviews and product ratings. Even if you have a few reviews, you can repurpose them on various channels to build trust with your audience.

Once you’ve gone through the first 4 steps, you’re now ready to convert that online demand into retail foot traffic and trial. Download our free guide to learn the remaining stages.

Get your free guide to O2O

To discover the remaining stages of the O2O cycle, you can download our free 50-page guide. It’s filled with advice and tips from 17 CPG experts!