Fast Moving Consumer Goods/Consumer Packaged Goods
By Jamey Wagner and Rebeca Arbona
The outlook for the fast moving consumer goods/consumer packaged goods sector for 2013 resembles the sector’s forecasts in 2012 or even 2011. Social media, mobile and online retail will be big areas of focus as will the need for brands to mind their digital footprints. These seismic shifts in consumer behavior are incredibly important, but we must be careful not to overemphasize any single method or technology. We must respond to the new ways consumers prefer to shop and engage with brands, but we also need to remember that no one behavior applies to all consumers in all cases.
Brands must continually find ways to keep connecting with consumers or they will lose relevance quickly. While new media and emerging technologies are instrumental in helping brands connect with consumers more effectively, we must not forget that these methods aren’t always the best way to communicate with every consumer in every case. For example, a recent study by Hitachi Consulting reveals that approximately two-thirds (65%) of Britons still prefer to shop in-store, rather than online.
The consumer mindset
One of the things that is so remarkable about the way the internet and mobile have changed our shopping habits is that the benefits extend far beyond convenience. Social networking, reviews and pricing transparency allow us to comment on, complain and compare our purchases, from largest to smallest. When we are in “gatherer” mode, these tools enable us to find the right price, the best quality or the most individual and unique item. We are now able to forage from the comfort of our homes but, we still like to shop in more traditional ways.
Think about how you get your groceries. Despite years of hype, web grocery services have yet to take off and, though we think it remains very promising, 2013 won’t be the year it hits the tipping point. As much as everyone loves to complain about this mundane chore, we also don’t seem to want to change the way we do it. When supermarkets remodel and move items around, consumers go batty. Objectively, it’s not that hard to learn a new store layout. We do it enthusiastically any time we discover a new retailer we love. But that’s because the stimulating in-store environment stokes our desires—we go into hunter mode, scanning for items that pique our interest and prepare to pounce when we spot the right object or deal. When it’s time to provide for basic necessities, such as staple goods like milk, eggs and butter, our shopping style tends to be more passive and our expectation for novelty or excitement is not as high when we are prepared to gather.
From package design to retail space and website design, special attention must be paid to how people shop for different items and whether convenience should be emphasized, (allowing people to find, gather and get out), or whether it's necessary to create a more stimulating experience, online or in-store, that awakens the senses, engages, and spurs on the hunting mode that impels consumers to linger, browse and “stalk.”
"Smart brands embrace digital platforms not merely to sell more products, but as a means to deepen brand relationships."
AN EMOTIONAL CONNECTION
Smart brands embrace digital platforms not merely to sell more products, but as a means to deepen brand relationships. Rather than using social media as a megaphone to blare out your own agenda, use it to listen to consumers and understand what matters most to them.
Establishing and maintaining the emotional relationship between a brand and its consumers has always been a vital part of brand management. Due to the closeness consumers now feel with brands through TV commercials, ads, internet experiences, branded videos and social media, this emotional connection is more important than ever. Just as Marshall McLuhan famously conveyed through his “the medium is the message” maxim, when it comes to shopping, the experience is an integral part of what we’re consuming. From a product’s form and design to its packaging, from the physical retail environment (or lack thereof) to the use of digital technologies to connect, inform and inspire co-creation, we must always keep sight of the emotional relationships consumers have with a particular brand and consider how we can support, build on and enrich that relationship.