How To Engage Consumers Everywhere
Guest Post By
Anil Venkat, Marketing.
An alert to all Consumer Packaged Goods companies: Your most loyal, longtime customers are up for grabs.
The "culprit," if you will? Other CPGs. The days when a handful of large CPGs dominated the marketplace are a distant memory. There are hundreds of nimble branded suppliers out there vying for precious space on the shelves of big box retailers. That's because just a meter or two on the shelf of a big box chain can translate into enormous global exposure for any brand.
Consumers now have endless options. And their brand loyalties lie wherever they can get good deals, experience targeted promotions, and find quality products immediately. A CPG can no longer operate under the assumption that consumers will wait and come back to the store again if they can't find their preferred brands. They'll buy whatever is on the shelves at that moment. Rival CPGs are working harder than ever to woo those fickle consumers away from brands that have until recently stood up against every test in the marketplace.
It's time for CPGs to re-evaluate how they do business. First and foremost is a re-assessment of their relationships with retailers. In the recent State of the Store survey by Infosys, 97 percent of retailers said support from their suppliers is vital to ensuring a customer-centric business model. There are so many opportunities to strengthen brand loyalty and the frequency of purchase simply by collaborating in such a way that the retailer and CPG are aligned in meeting the expectations of customers. To be sure, creating a new branding experience is a challenge for CPGs that continue to depend on old business models. In fact, the Infosys survey shows that 40 percent of consumers are no more compelled to make purchases because of existing promotions than they were two years ago.
Strengthening ties to consumers begins with "omni-channel" convergence. In a bygone era, a CPG could rest well knowing that a customer would continue buying a certain laundry detergent after years of coupons and promotions. It was relatively cheap for the company to keep that customer in the fold. Today, however, with the popularity of mobile devices, consumers are accessing product reviews, chatting with their friends, and comparing prices before they even begin to shop. The dynamism of shopper loyalty in the digital marketplace is forcing mature CPGs to focus on building emotional connections with their consumers - connections that drive affinity and trust.
Building emotional connections takes data. Lots of it. CPG companies are discovering the advantages of deploying solutions that integrate different data sources - products, consumers, demographics, point of sale, promotions, and supply chain - across all channels. Sales teams better understand consumer behavior when they're equipped with a holistic view. Without this perspective, trade spends and promotion planning won't deliver the promised return on investment.
There are plenty of opportunities to improve ROI. The Infosys survey shows that only 10 percent of customers have seen companies incorporate interactive digital displays within stores and 84 percent say they have not seen price comparison apps over the past year. There's an undeniable need for IT and sales to collaborate so that consumers keep coming back for more.
Part of the solution involves using robust data solutions to eliminate silos across retail channels. You don't want inconsistent consumer experiences and poor execution at various points of sale. Enterprises need to find ways to perfect their information models because there is no one-size-fits-all solution to bring all of the consumer information together. Sophisticated IT solutions will help enterprises develop bespoke consumer programs that are customized by channel and format. Most enterprises may not have this expertise in-house, so choosing the right technology partner is critical.
The time is now to adopt a retail execution strategy that leverages the power of omni-channel convergence, increases sales productivity, and extracts valuable shopper insights to build a holistic consumer view. With smarter investments in inventory replenishment models, CPGs companies can better position themselves for success.