What The Rules Of Dating Can Teach CPGs

What can the rules of dating teach consumer goods companies as they navigate an environment that is complex, continually disrupted, and highly competitive? Here are three points to consider.

What The Rules Of Dating Can Teach CPGs

by CMO.com Team

Posted on 02-27-2018

When it comes to personal relationships, we know there is no one path that fits all. The journey from first meeting to mapping out a future can be varied and complicated.

The same can be said for business. So what can the rules of dating teach consumer goods companies as they navigate an environment that is complex, continually disrupted, and highly competitive?

Here are three points to consider.

1. Attract the right sort of attention from the right people from the first interaction: When making and selling products and services to today’s consumer, brands need to be able to tailor their engagement strategies and offerings to fit the profile of the individual they are trying to reach.

Standing out from the crowd will require embracing a truly consumer-centric mindset—one that sees the world through the customer’s eyes. To achieve this, companies should consider taking a holistic approach in identifying and creating personalized propositions, made available via omnichannel connections that will pull consumers toward them—and their brands.

And with the further development of social media, the growth of social commerce, and emergence of Generation Z—those born from 1997 to the present—there is a significant opportunity for brands to invest in the capabilities that will enable them to engage consumers in a way that is highly targeted and personalized.

A leading example of consumer relevance and the power of influence is Ipsy, the beauty platform launched by Michelle Phan, who turned her social media stardom into a profitable startup beauty and makeup subscription business.

As we all know, brands and products can be popular one minute and pushed to the back of the mind the next. With technology helping to level the playing field by eliminating historical barriers to market entry, CPGs will need to resist complacency and instead focus on being relevant—and in the right time at the right place—by reinventing how they reach consumers wherever they may be.

2. Develop a “living relationship” that adapts and grows according to the wants and needs of consumers: Relationships are rarely smooth sailing; they require constant adaptation and nurturing to flourish. The same can be said of the relationship between brand and consumer, where behavior is notoriously difficult to predict and plan for.

And just as every relationship is different, so, too, is the path that CPGs will take. Regardless of what stage of the journey customers are in, it is crucial for companies to develop a “modern relationship” with them. To do this, they will be required to create a “living business,” one that can sense, respond, and even predict the messages the brand is receiving from consumers. Crucial for success is developing strong data-led, strategic, and market activation capabilities that allow them to have the agility to capture those growth opportunities before the consumer has moved elsewhere.

IntelligentX Brewing Company exemplifies a “living business” with its unique approach to product innovation and refinement. IntelligentX employs artificial intelligence in gathering consumer feedback; each bottle’s label lists a website where consumers can go to provide input on the flavor, carbonation level, etc. That feedback is then fed into the brewery’s algorithm, which produces new recipes each month, refined using the most recent consumer feedback. While used on a small scale today, it is easy to see how this technology could be used to increase the speed of innovation across CPG segments.

3. “Surprise and delight” for enduring relationships: The hard work doesn’t stop at the point of sale. Indeed, for many CPGs, this is just the beginning; they will need to adopt fast innovation to ensure they are constantly refreshing and re-engaging their consumer base. It doesn’t take a lot for consumers to fall in and out of love with brands. The rules have changed. Fewer consumers are loyal, and they are unlikely to seek out companies to buy from. Instead, the pressure is on for brands to become integrated into the lives of consumers by being hyper-relevant and meeting them at a time and place that is convenient.

Increasingly, the “convenient place” is in the home. Indeed, the home has become the battleground for consumer attention and engagement. For instance, voice ordering is giving busy consumers a level of ease and convenience they’ve never had before. And although voice may be the “latest thing,” it certainly won’t be the last. This makes finding a way to be welcomed into the homes of consumers a key area of focus for consumer goods companies in the near and longer term.

Brands will need to continuously reinvent how they cater to a generation of consumers who demand constant innovations that are fresh and relevant. This will require consumer goods companies to utilize social channels and emerging technologies such as AI and blockchain to define new and faster approaches to innovation.

An example of a business model born of consumer intimacy and emerging technology is Stitch Fix, which offers apparel and personal stylist services on a subscription model, and relies on data science and deep personal relationships to drive its success. The stylists use the data and tailor their selections with information they know from interacting with subscribers, such as a need for an upcoming job interview or highly personal information such as body insecurities. Stitch Fix is using this capability to expand their offerings, including using their vast database of consumer insights to design their own private label products.

Commit To Creating A ‘Modern Relationship’

There can be no doubt that it is a buyers’ market, with the consumer firmly in control. The emphasis is now on CPG companies to move to modern ways of working. It is about having the capabilities to listen and respond to consumers and to create—and, crucially, maintain—a modern relationship that stands the test of time. The only question will be, will CPG companies do enough to encourage consumers to embrace them, or will they shy away from the commitment?

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