Todd Hale, SVP, Consumer & Shopper Insights
With all eyes on the economic recession in the U.S., it’s easy to underestimate the major trends currently reshaping the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry. According to The Nielsen Company’s Retail 2015 Forecast, the pace of change is only accelerating as technology, marketing trends and retail formats converge to redefine how CPG retailers and manufacturers interact with consumers.
By 2015, we predict mass supercenters and e-commerce to be the big winners by dollar share gains, growing by a combined five share points between 2009 and 2015. Warehouse club, dollar store and pet store share will also grow share positions. Nielsen forecasts that supermarkets will continue to lose share, but at a declining rate. While both high-end and low-end niche grocers will grow share, overall share positions will remain fairly low given lower per-store sales compared to larger formats. Other key CPG channels, including drug stores, mass merchandisers and convenience stores, will grow dollar sales but will suffer share losses.
Nielsen expects to see further CPG retail consolidation as retailers look for scale and opportunities to expand their footprint into existing and new areas. Retail consolidation will be most active within the supermarket and convenience channels in the race for scale. Today’s big players will only grow bigger. Industry change will grow faster and more intense in the next five years, requiring advanced, future-focused change management skills among CPG professionals.
Out with the Paper Shopping List, in with the Smartphone
One of the biggest CPG shifts by 2015 is already underway: the use of smartphones to engage consumers and help them make better shopping choices. According to Nielsen, smartphone penetration stands at 23% of all mobile subscribers and is expected to overtake feature phones in the U.S. by the end of 2011. Nielsen predicts that by 2015, smart phones will be the primary enabler of consumer shopping engagements and new technology innovations will generate additional opportunities for retailers and manufacturers.
Coming to a Smartphone Near You: a Personalized Shopping Experience
Driving the rapid adoption of smartphones is the seemingly endless variety of apps, which take full advantage of the smart phone’s geographic location and interactive capabilities. Retailers are already using smartphones as a replacement for frequent shopper cards, sending store coupons and deals directly to a shopper’s phone. Nielsen expects CPG companies to further leverage the smartphone’s location tracking abilities to target communications and promotions to shoppers both in and out of stores, and up sell consumers on other items based on prior purchases. In addition, consumers will have the ability to locate the best available price for a given item, access real-time product reviews and promotions and manage everything from household budgets and pantry inventory to tax preparation and filing.
Prepare for the Future
Consumer packaged goods retailers and manufacturers should focus on the following initiatives now to position their businesses for future success:
- Develop or buy online/digital/social marketing expertise. If you don’t have this expertise today, get it.
- Plan for diminishing returns from traditional media. Newspaper feature ads and free standing insert (paper-based) coupons dominate today, but for how long?
- Nurture retailer/supplier relationships. Have contingency plans dealing with consolidation impact.
- Get more flexible with format planning. Consumers today are flexible and completely mobile, which means we need to get more flexible about how and where we sell our products. Study emerging economies to understand flexible markets. Think about future format planning for your next one to three generations of formats.
- Demand forecasting by category and consumer segment. Understand how changes in demand at the category and consumer level will provide risks or opportunities
- Expand via regional or global opportunities. With slowing domestic population growth impacting sales growth, seek opportunities outside traditional geographies to reach more households.
- Make future management a company strength. Given the pace of change that we will experience over the next five years, future management needs to be a core competency or the chances of your stores or brands being a part of the future will be in serious jeopardy.
- Understand the new faces of opportunity. With an increasingly aging and ethnic population, you can’t afford to ignore generational and multi-cultural consumers. It is critical for marketers to adapt in order to gain the attention and brand/shopper loyalty of diverse generations and multi-cultural families of the future.
Gone are the days when online marketing was led solely by the dotcoms of the world. Today, many CPG companies have embraced online and social marketing and are pushing the envelope further each day. In the midst of considerable consolidation and change, the future will be owned by those companies that harness technology to the make the consumer shopping experience easy, efficient and fun.