Currently, U.S. consumers are nearly evenly split between those who are feeling more optimistic about the economy and their own financial prospects, and those who expect continued
While consumers should be more willing to open their wallets if the economy’s gradual improvement continues, the key point for CPG makers/marketers at present is that even
better off and more optimistic consumers continue to be frugal and conservative, in the sense of wanting to “live well for less,” according to a new report from SymphonyIRI’s Times
& Trends, which analyzes 2012 CPG challenges and opportunities based on 2011 CPG trends/data.
Given this scenario, “CPG marketers need to actively respond with products and
strategies that really emphasize their understanding of consumers’ most pressing needs and wants in order to drive purchase behavior and loyalty,” sums up SymphonyIRI Times & Trends
editor Susan Viamari.
SymphonyIRI’s research points to the following factors/trends being most critical in CPG strategies in 2012:
- Shoppers will continue to define
value based largely on price. SymphonyIRI’s MarketPulse consumer survey shows more than half of shoppers still choosing the stores that they shop based on lowest prices, and three-quarters
saying that price weighs heavily in purchasing/brand decisions. While input costs in many categories are moderating, cost pressures remain in some categories. CPG manufacturers and retailers have run
out of ways to cut operational costs, and also “sense the shopper’s ability to pay more,” and will therefore continue to try to be more aggressive about passing costs along to
consumers in the form of price increases.
- Private-label will continue to account for unit sales in the 22% to 23% range and dollar sales in the 18% to 20% percent range. Retailers will
increase assortments and retain the tiered PL pricing/quality offerings that have been proving successful for them.
- CPG manufacturers will intensify their focus on innovation as their
primary private-label-mitigation strategy. Example: Single-serve coffee offerings from leader Keurig (K-Cups) and others are responsible in no small part for the coffee/tea sector’s 14% share of
2012’s most successful beverage launches (versus a historical average of just 8% for the coffee/tea segment).
- Drug-channel retailers will accelerate their focus on evolving store
formats to expand food/beverage offerings.
- Responding to shoppers’ increasing use of digital coupons, increasing tendency to research prices/offerings online and develop shopping
lists prior to their shopping trips, and increasing use of mobile devices to research and receive offers during their shopping, CPG manufacturers and retailers will continue to seek to leverage
digital/social media more effectively.
To effectively compete in 2012, SymphonyIRI advises CPG manufacturers and retailers to focus on three core action areas:
opportunities and risks: Manufacturers should reevaluate sourcing and input sources, and be on the lookout for opportunities to lower manufacturing costs through innovative sourcing, packaging
and product-sizing strategies. Retailers should closely track the evolving competitive set within their channels and by retailer, and adjust their product-mix and inventory-management strategies as
- Evaluate pricing and promotional strategies: Manufacturers should continually reassess and adjust pricing to maintain an optimal price gap between private-label and
national-brand offerings. Retailers should work with key manufacturers to develop cross-promotional opportunities for high-growth categories/brands and key, staple products.
- Enhance product
assortments: Manufacturers should explore product-development opportunities based both on existing and emerging product trends. Retailers should align assortment strategies with consumers’
changing trip-mission and product usage trends.