One of the key talking points within the FMCG and retail industry has been the threat of emerging channels and parallel imported products to their businesses. But just how serious is this threat? To obtain a credible answer to this question is like finding a needle in the haystack, as there are an increasing number of distributors and retailers competing in both the bricks & mortar and online operations across Hong Kong, not to mention the complexity of selling to both local consumers as well as the mainland Chinese tourists.
With strong Q2 economic indicators such as retail sales (+12% YOY), overnight mainland visitors (+8% YOY) and day visitors (+19% YOY) recovering to levels not seen since 2013, and with Nielsen’s FMCG Index showing a +4% YOY value growth for July 2018 (following several periods of decline between 2015 to 2017), it has been observed in recent months some of the FMCG companies are offering their official imported products to emerging channels in order to protect their baseline sales. But by doing so are they simply running in panic mode? Given that some of the key account retailers seemed to have given more priorities to certain categories, in-store exclusive brands and private labels, the power of bargaining lessens by the day with decreasing ROIs.
These challenges currently impacts the majority of FMCG players especially those who have products from different COO (countries of origin). For a retailer or distributor their buyers can simply source the same brand from different markets, whilst for some consumers they either cannot differentiate the COO based on the packaging alone. In most cases the parallel imported products offers deeper price cuts, as an increasing number of key account and emerging channel retailer buyers sources their products directly from overseas with favorable exchange rates and economies of scale, by doing so they can afford to operate at a low cost and pass on the savings to their customers.
What are the options for FMCG industry in this ever-changing competitive operating environment? Do they simply sit back and do nothing? Should they slowly retreat their investments and let parallel imported products take over the market? Or do they pile up their products into emerging channels and risks alienating their key account partners?
To answer most of these questions, it has become more critical for the industry to gain an in-depth and holistic understanding the consumer behavior for parallel imported products and the changing dynamics of the new retail environment. Moreover, FMCG players should view this as an opportunity to rethink and reshape their channel and product portfolio strategies, by doing so they can maintain a competitive edge with both consumers and retailers.
Nielsen Hong Kong is pleased to announce the launch of a new consumer insights study in Q4 2018, ‘Parallel Imported Products: A Consumer’s Perspective’. This study aims to provide an in-depth understanding on consumers perspective for parallel imported products, their purchasing journey in emerging channels and their attitude/behavior across the super categories, as well as the key implications for FMCG companies/key account retailers and their roles in this increasingly complex operating environment.
For more information, please contact your regular Nielsen’s contact.