A seismic shift in global retail is occurring amid profound changes in consumer culture and technology advancement. The race is intense and executing new product innovation is tough.

The ability to meet the growing expectations of consumers is tougher due to

Driving forces of change

Past few years, the Consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers have been struggling in a low-growth marketplace. In the financial year 2018–19, IRI recorded a 2.4 per cent dollar increase in FMCG sales. Without tobacco, the growth subsides to 2 per cent – well below the 3.1 per cent increase across all Australian retail reported by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in the same timeframe.

Increased number of technology-enabled touchpoints, rapid adoption of e-commerce, digital payments and delivery to home has reduced the path to purchase from an in-store.

The increase usage of mobile devices for managing all aspects of daily life, the categories once solely available in store are now just a fingertip away. These changes are a driving force of market fragmentation and channel blurring. The battle for Omnichannel buyers is evolving between Amazon’s order and delivery and retail’s order and pickup.

The marketplace dynamics is shifting creating opportunities for more direct contact with consumers. Meanwhile, competition for the consumer’s attention and wallet is rapidly intensifying as the lines blur between discovery, research, shopping and entertainment. For example, YouTube’s ‘Beauty Try-On’ feature allows beauty product trial in real time during video playback with augmented reality.

Staying relevant

The level of Omnichannel experimentation and present pandemic, forced suppliers and retailers to find new ways to stay relevant with their key consumers and shoppers.

For example, Morrisons became the first UK supermarket to offer discounted perishable food past its “best before” date via the “Too Good to Go” app in all of its 494 supermarkets nationwide. This touchpoint connects users (1.8 million in the UK) with unsold food that might been thrown away by European retailers and foodservice operators. Such concepts will play a role supporting industry players in meeting their quotas around waste.

Concern over loyalties

The Gen Z FMCG consumers are less predictable and less loyal (to both brands and stores) than previous generations. Younger consumers are app oriented multichannel shoppers with different preferences in terms of where they shop and what they buy. Whereas ageing populations are redefining the lifestyle norms of older age.

Everywhere there are examples of smaller, disruptive companies winning hearts and minds through fast thinking and innovation. Global FMCG giants were unable to pace-up and missed millions of dollars in sales to small players. This is evident in Australia, where independently owned craft brewers and local craft distilled spirits gaining share in high-performing segments. IRI reports says in 2019, smaller suppliers delivered disproportionately high growth to Australia’s supermarkets.

Emergence of high-performing small and mid-size players and Industry fragmentation has pushed larger players to take up the cards of merging and acquisitions for future growth opportunities. For example, brewing giant Lion acquiring a 50 per cent stake in Victorian-based Four Pillars Gin in 2019.

Consumers are more concerned about generic goods and opts for personalisation. CPG brands must gain better insight but this causes concern over data privacy, security and intrusiveness remaining pervasive. Research by IRI reveals 75 per cent does not like when websites ask for personal information.

Competitive advantage with Data and Tech

In a constantly changing marketplace it does not matters whether the brand is large or small, being agile is the next step for evolution. The rise of big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning helps CPG marketers to effecting understand and serve their customers. In fact, FMCG is one of the industries that could potentially benefit from analytics and AI as an enabler of competitive advantage.

Enabling digital innovations helps companies to identify customers’ needs, create effective process, optimise personalisation and increase response to insights and actions.