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4 Crackerjack Ways to Get Ahead in the CPG Industry

woman using smartphone while shopping for consumer packaged goods

[Estimated read time: 5 minutes]

The CPG industry has always worked with tight margins (not to mention strict regulations!), and a still-not-recovered economy isn’t helping anything. While in some regards, the future looks rosier—Millennials are more brand loyal and less price focused than previous generations, for example—in most, it looks like the landscape isn’t changing any time soon.

How can CPG companies stay competitive against the odds?

1. Leverage Big Data to Inform Business Decisions

According to McKinsey, four things separate winning CPG companies from the rest:

  1. Using sophisticated analytical tools for setting prices
  2. Collecting data from retailers
  3. Analyzing shopper attributes
  4. Generating more granular shopper insights

In other words, the name of the game is big data!

Top-performing companies collect data from every possible source, including not just their own websites, mobile apps, contact centers, and social media, but also full basket, shopper panel, and coupon redemption data from retailers. The insights they glean from all that information gives them the confidence to make bigger, more frequents adjustments to their products, prices, marketing, and more.

Take Reckitt Benckiser, maker of Mucinex, for example. The company analyzed search data from WebMD to track flu outbreaks and predict where the next ones would occur. By adjusting their promotions in those areas to target flu sufferers at the exact right moment, they grew national sales of cough and cold products by 22% over the previous year.

2. Use Demand Windows to Predict Consumer Behavior

Leading companies are using that same big data to identify the “demand windows” in which purchases are made. Strategy& explains the concept like this:

“Companies have to combine a deep knowledge of who is shopping, and when, and where, and why, with an understanding of the emotional and functional benefits of their products. As you make those connections, you gain insight about specific situations, or demand windows, in which consumers want or need to make a purchase. These windows open and close based on different factors at different times...Context is everything.”

baby sitting next to teddy bear

In the past, companies focused on demographics (the who) and consumer goals (the why). For instance, first-time moms tend to purchase premium-brand, natural diapers for their newborns, but switch to a more practical, durable alternative when their babies start crawling. A demand window strategy also looks at the when and the where: Most moms buy their diapers in bulk at big-box stores or online, where per-diaper prices are lower. But when they inevitably have to make a late-night run to the 24-hour drugstore, where the prices are a lot higher, they look for a small package.

3. Differentiate Yourself with a Better Mobile Experience

In the past year, U.S. websites have seen a 20% increase in mobile's share of online sessions, and analysts expect more than half of the total revenue from e-commerce to come from mobile by the end of 2017. Mobile device owners do more online research than the average consumer—much of it while shopping in brick-and-mortar stores (82% consult their phones on purchases they're about to make in a store). And CPG categories are some of their favorites to look up: 45% of consumers research cereal online, 55% soap, and 65% cosmetics.

With over half of smartphone users saying they’ve purchased from a different brand simply because they received a better mobile experience, the channel offers an opportunity for companies to differentiate themselves. And the biggest potential lies in self-service. While two-thirds of customers have a more favorable view of brands that offer mobile self-service, the feature is sorely lacking across the board.

man using smartphone while shopping in a grocery store

To create an optimal mobile experience, consider:

  • Allowing users to access all support channels directly from your mobile app—including chat, phone, video, and social
  • Enabling users to escalate to chat, voice, or video without having to switch devices
  • Using a knowledgebase that can adjust formatting and content length based on channel or device
  • Enhancing your in-app support experience by including videos such as product demonstrations and step-by-step instructions
  • Incorporating a chatbot interface to let customers interact using the same casual, natural language they already use on their mobile device

4. Streamline Tracking and Reporting for Regulatory Requirements

Requirements for tracking and reporting keep increasing, and non-compliance can do serious damage to your brand through delayed product launches, decreased customer satisfaction, and negative PR—not the mention potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines!

Top companies are learning that the right technology can streamline the process and save time, money, and your reputation by:

  1. Making it easy to adjust the types of information you collect: A smart CRM dynamically adjusts which fields are required based on contextual information, and can be configured, without help from IT or the software vendor, as new regulations go into effect.
  2. Maintaining a detailed audit trail: With a CRM that tracks interactions across all channels, you can keep a record of every piece of information each customer has received, and when they received it.
  3. Using threshold reporting: Some regulations require CPG companies to report when a product issue reaches a specific magnitude. The right CRM will automatically generate and send the report when the threshold is reached.
  4. Keeping information up-to-date across all channels: An advanced knowledge management platform can be integrated into every channel, including digital self-service, chatbots, and the agent desktop. It pulls from the same source, optimizing responses for device and audience, which means you only need to make one update to ensure customers receive accurate information everywhere.

Learn more about the challenges facing CPG companies and find out how Astute helps top brands like KraftScotts Miracle-GroMcCormick & Co., and Combe succeed.

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