It’s not a secret that consumer goods companies are facing very unique challenges today. Consumers’ needs are more fluid and diverse than ever before. Market conditions have changed significantly and margins have shrunk. Yet, organizations are challenged to generate growth, without compromising scale and efficiency.
Consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies have the opportunity to rationalize their sales and marketing IT landscape and consolidate into an integrated system of engagement for customers and consumers, allowing them to deliver on the need to drive global brands with excellent local execution in a cost effective way. A modular and integrated sales and marketing solution is key to winning in today’s marketplace—and IT can play a pivotal role in driving scale without compromising on agility and speed.
Owning consumer relationships and interactions has traditionally been the focus of retail organizations, but this power is now shifting to CPG companies as they expand digital touch points and retail operations. Some CPG companies have had successes in this area, but, for most, it is time to take action or fall behind. A good example is the introduction of the subscription business model in the men’s razor and shaving market, which is impacting that sector. In this digital era of connected consumers, brand owners have ample opportunity to gain better control of consumer relationships and IT can be instrumental to this change by focusing on enablement of three key capabilities:
1. Transforming consumer marketing through data management platforms
Many consumer goods companies have their campaign data split among several marketing agencies which “own” sections of data about specific sets of target consumers. Such scattered information prevents the business from owning its own consumer data, gaining insights into campaign performance and leveraging consumer data across multiple campaigns. In fact, marketing decision makers in Western Europe and the United States recently indicated “integration of various sources of customer data” as the top challenge in implementing effective retargeting campaigns, per Forrester Consulting.
By adopting a data management platform, consumer goods organizations can collect, synthesize and activate customer and prospect data to power analytically driven campaign management.
2. Enabling web, mobile, social and commerce asset
Consumer brands have an Internet and social media presence to communicate product features and engage consumers. However, in many cases, they face a number of challenges. First, there is a high degree of variances by brand, language and geography, making one small change across multiple sites time-consuming and difficult to coordinate. Even though consumers are often one click away from buying online, some sites don’t offer the opportunity to do so. Research indicates that nearly 70% of Internet users in Western Europe and North America will purchase items on digital devices when possible, eMarketer has found.
The IT department can solve these issues and drive platform consolidation by adopting a single execution platform supporting many brand assets and improving management efficiency. This improves time-to-market and integration with various creative partners involved in the process. In addition, activating out-of-the-box ecommerce capabilities or integrating with third parties can help drive continuity in consumer experience. In the U.S. market, where online retail is more embraced by consumers, several brands offer click-to-buy capability on branded web-sites through third party retail assets.
3. Optimizing point of sale and the Internet of Things (IoT)
The physical point of sales (PoS) is still the place where consumers very often engage with brands and make purchase decisions and sales transactions. Consumer goods companies might develop PoS themselves or team up with trading partners, often deploying commercial assets such as coolers and fridges, vending machines, coffee machines, etc. Conservative estimates indicate that the IoT will reach 20 billion devices by 2020, which will open up a variety of new ways for collaboration between humans and machines in sales and marketing.
IT can drive business innovation in this area by adopting a cloud-based IoT platform that connects machines, collects data, and develops new applications or integrates with existing applications. Connected PoS machines will allow two-way communication that yields unprecedented insights into consumer engagement, consumption and proactive maintenance needs. Various brand owners are piloting these types of solutions today, with an increasing interest as the cost of technology becomes more affordable.
Begin to win in sales and marketing through technology
When IT leaders elevate their role and drive transformation at the intersection of technology and business, consumer goods companies can achieve the innovation and scale they need to significantly improve consumer engagement and win in today’s competitive marketplace.