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Innovation Archives - NVISION

Three Key Tips to Gain Competitive Advantage in CPG

man looking at consumer product at a grocery store

Undeniably, the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) industry faces unique challenges. Over the past five years, many CPG brands have experienced a decline in revenue and profits. Brands are struggling to keep up with changes in the industry, and some are consequently falling behind as the broader retail landscape changes.

According to Bain & Company’s Matthew Meacham, François Faelli, Eduardo Giménez, and John Blasberg in their article, “When we analyzed the performance of 34 of the world’s top 50 consumer goods companies in the last few years, we made the unsettling discovery that 85% of those big companies had seen a decline in either revenues, profits or both.”

In order to ensure future success, brands need to find ways to combat the current challenges in the industry. So, what can CPG brands do to overcome the current crisis in the industry?

shadowed people with bubbles - account management

Be Agile with Emerging Trends

With advances in technology and the emergence of a new generation of shoppers, the CPG industry is constantly evolving. The wants and needs of customers are changing, along with the ways they shop. Brands that hope to survive in this ever-changing market need to keep up with the new trends.

One of the most significant trends is rapidly shifting in consumer behavior as they become more socially, environmentally, and health-conscious. This fast-growing trend contributed to the considerable disruption caused by small insurgent brands in many product categories, making the competition even more intense.

In order to support the new wave of consumers and to compete in the current market, brands should focus on establishing a robust multi-channel presence to connect with the target consumers where they are comfortable to interact and share.

When brands are aware of emerging market trends, they can come up with a plan to prepare for them ahead of time. By serving the consumer in the way they want to be served on par with the current trends, brands can outsmart the competition to be successful in the marketplace.

Reinvent Brand’s Image

Brand marketers need to start thinking “outside the box” when it comes to engaging with customers. Instead of relying solely on legacy marketing tactics, brands should consider ways to draw in customers that they haven’t used before.

Meacham, Faelli, Giménez, and Blasberg explain: “Winning companies will innovate their way out with new products, new systems, and new needs that help elevate their categories to premium status while increasing product and assortment penetration.”

If keeping up with the current trends is “today forward” strategy, brands also will need to take “future back” approach to set their own destiny and progressing toward it.

By redefining the vision for your brand, and your company – future back approach – to rearticulate a meaningful, sustainable, and consumer-driven purposes will inspire to reset the brand’s sense of urgency and to become the frontline innovator.

woman shopping on tablet - CPG

Directly Engage with Customers

Traditionally, most CPG brands don’t maintain a relationship with customers after they make a purchase. However, if brands take the initiative to connect and develop lasting relationships with their shoppers, they will drive sales and increase their opportunities for upselling and cross-selling.

Adding the data-driven personalization in every customer touchpoint will significantly improve customer commitment to the brands, especially when a customer feels connected, understood, and valued by the brand.

One way is direct mail follow-ups with customers after they’ve purchased your product. Consumers typically respond positively to direct communication because they appreciate feeling that their feedback is important.

Also, brands should consider opening pop-up brick-and-mortar stores to improve engagement with consumers. Brands can more easily establish impactful connections with their shoppers in a physical store, where the entire consumer experience is curated by the brand.

There is no sales method more effective than good old-fashioned, positive, face-to-face interactions. When a customer leaves your store feeling like they’ve had a good experience, they are more likely to come back and also to encourage their friends and family members to shop there.

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The current crisis in the CPG industry doesn’t mean that your brand is doomed to struggle. Instead, brand marketers should see these market challenges as opportunities to redefine their business by thinking of new, creative ways to engage with customers and drive sales.

Making sure you stay in the know regarding new market trends, coming up with innovative ideas for products and marketing tactics, and putting in the effort to reach out and directly engage with your customers are important steps you can take as a CPG brand marketer in order to flourish in today’s challenging market. By understanding these useful actions, CPG brands are more likely to remain profitable and ensure a successful future for their business.

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For more than three decades we’ve partnered with Fortune 500 companies to deliver marketing operations solutions. Led by a strategic account management team, we’ll help you develop, procure, fulfill and distribute printed collateral, signage, point-of-purchase displays, direct mail, branded merchandise and much more.

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How Wine Industry is Shifting to Connect with Customers

Wine companies invest significant resources in conducting studies to learn what customers look for when shopping for their ideal wine.

However, it’s becoming more and more evident that many wine consumers don’t actually know what they want in a bottle of wine. Consequently, these efforts usually bring wine brands with little useful insight and only wasted money.

According to Gregory Carpenter and Ashlee Humphreys at Harvard Business Review, there is a more effective approach to gearing your brand towards consumers – educating and engaging with them. If most customers don’t know enough about wine to know what they want to buy, wine brands need to take the initiative and proactively inform them.

So, how can wine companies successfully engage with their customers?

Wine glasses

Influence Customers’ Tastes

Many businesses aim to meet customers’ needs through their products. However, in the wine industry, many customers don’t know enough about wine to have predictable preferences. So, how can wine companies know what to produce to satisfy consumers’ desires?

Wine companies can use their expertise in the industry to give shoppers what they want before they even realize they want it. Brands can put a personal touch on their products by producing wines that they want to bring to market, rather than reacting to consumers’ preferences.

The most effective approach to success for winemakers is to influence the tastes of their customers. By coming up with innovative labels, branding and marketing planning, and products, wine brands can attract customers and drive sales for their products.

Develop Relationships with Industry Influencers

Certain critics and influencers have strong product views that can affect buyers’ decision-making processes. So, what’s the best way to capitalize on critics’ positions of power in the market? Impress them with a truly superior brand experience.

Creating a smart and innovative atmosphere where critics and social media influencers can experience and taste your brand’s wines will increase brand awareness and demand for your products. At the same time, it will enable you to develop long-lasting, profitable business relationships with influential figures.

As a result of the growing relationships with wine-industry critics, wine companies can use those reviews and ratings to better market their products and drive sales for their brand.

influencer marketing

Build Brand Loyalty with Shared Customer Experiences

Consumers seek advice by reading reviews and ratings. If wine companies want to wow shoppers, they need to focus on displaying these factors that can sway customers’ decision-making process.

The trick is creating a brand experience that is truly superior to the competition. As Carpenter and Humphreys explain, “Consumers become fans and pay premium prices, despite the availability of literally thousands of excellent alternatives.” When your customers believe that they are purchasing the best of the best, they will be willing to pay more.

The in-store display can be an excellent way to promote your products. Having a vibrant yet elegant display stating positive reviews and comments by influencers and customers will help accelerate your product sales by swaying the purchase decisions of customers. Sometimes too much information is better than lack of one, especially not many customers have expert knowledge when it comes to selecting a bottle of wine.

And they will keep coming back for the same brand and products in the future, hence, growing brand loyalty.

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Wine brands are discovering new ways to reach their customers. Instead of wasting money and resources surveying shoppers to learn about their wine preferences, they are focusing on influencing consumers with innovative products and creative packaging, and through influencer marketing.

Recommendations and strong reviews by influencers are an essential part of the decision-making process for modern-day consumers. By understanding the thought processes of shoppers, wine brands can help navigate them to make the right decision. As a result, it will create a fan base of customers who will remain loyal to your brand and increase your brand’s footprint in the market.

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Why NVISION?

For more than three decades we’ve partnered with Fortune 500 companies to deliver marketing operations solutions. Led by a strategic account management team, we’ll help you develop, procure, fulfill and distribute printed collateral, signage, point-of-purchase displays, direct mail, branded merchandise and much more.

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GlobalShop 2018: Top Retail Trends

The NVISION team had a fantastic experience at this year’s GlobalShop 2018. From the inspiring keynote to the innovative breakout sessions, the future of retail – and the minds of those creating it – is bright. And speaking of experiences, several of this year’s most important trends centered around the ways that brick-and-mortar retailers are transforming their stores into customer experience centers, and the technologies that enable them.

Couldn’t make it to GlobalShop 2018, or didn’t catch all the sessions? Don’t worry. NVISION has identified the five major industry trends retailers should be focused on this year, and why each is so important.

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1. Retail is No Longer About Transactions, But Experiences

Far from being “dead,” brick-and-mortar retail is evolving to better suit modern, changing customer demands. 90% of transactions still take place inside brick-and-mortar stores, but that percentage shifts more towards online revenue every day, and more and more smart brands are realizing that selling products within their retail spaces is only one of their functions.

In ever-more saturated markets and industries, brands need to stand out from the noise. They need a way to make meaningful, lasting connections with their customers that go beyond just a product. They must transform their retail spaces into experiences that build loyalty. By using retail spaces to create experiences, not transactions, retailers can actually create repeat business and renewable revenue streams that result in multiple, repeated transactions over time.

2. AR, VR, and AI Are Part of Retail’s Future

Augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and artificial intelligence (AI) are poised to give brands a whole new array of options for creating more engaging, dynamic customer experiences. By properly leveraging them, retailers can position themselves “at the forefront of experience by turning imagination into reality.”

And the reasons are obvious: AR and VR provide a powerful way to do two things: let your customers more fully imagine how your product might improve their lives, and create deeply immersive experiences that resonate and build brand loyalty. From in-store AR “smart mirrors” like those at Nordstrom which allow shoppers to “try on” different outfits without lifting a finger, to interior design VR apps that let customers stroll through a virtual “living room” to test-drive furniture, this technology is set to explode in 2018.

Indeed, analysts in China predict investment in AR/VR in the U.S. will grow by $8.5 billion by 2020, and VR apps are already experiencing 184% growth domestically. With further studies suggesting 59% of customers would prefer to use AR for furniture shopping, it holds real promise for retail. Other tech showing promise in the retail sector is in-store apps and AI, which can not only suggest items a customer might like based on their prior shopping activity, but thanks to the Internet of Things and the increasing availability of RFID chips (now as a cheap as $0.06 per chip at volume), it can even ping store employees to instruct them to bring an item directly to the shopper.

But beware! If not deployed properly or with a specific purpose, AR and VR are little more than shiny new toys to distract your customers. They should add value and/or simplify some process for your brand or your customer. Otherwise, an investment in this tech has little hope of showing returns. These technologies should clarify your brand, not confuse it.

3. Turning Showrooms Into “Do-Rooms”

With the rise of digital channels and the continued optimization of e-commerce storefronts, online purchasing transactions are just as simple – if not simpler – than buying from brick-and-mortar stores for many customers. Which is why retailers are realizing their physical spaces must offer something that online never will: tangible, physical interactions with the product.

One popular way to do this is to hold “unboxing parties” for new product launches. Named after the popular online video trend of removing a new product from its box, unboxing parties are store events where customers can come and check out a new product. They are invited to touch it, hold it, try it out, and perhaps most importantly, ask any questions they might have about it.

Other brands are specifically designing their retail spaces to be perfect places to test drive their products. Whether it’s sports equipment retailers installing batting cages and virtual driving ranges for athletes to try out gear, or audio/visual retailers designing the perfect “man cave” setup complete with couches and popcorn, “do-rooms” are set to be a major trend.

woman writing on a note pad over coffee

4. Recognizing the Value of “Return on Experience”

Sure, forever, the king of all marketing statistics has been return on investment (ROI).  But in 2018, more and more retailers are beginning to understand the value of Return on Experience. The fact of the matter is simply this: customers are having an experience with your retail brand, whether you’re thoughtfully curating that experience or not. The emotional connection – or lack thereof – that your customers feel to your brand is being formed as we speak.

The memory of their experience is coloring their perception of your brand, and their decision whether or not to return to your store is being made right now. To that end, there are three key customer connections retailers should focus to create powerful emotional experiences:

  1. Physical. We are social, touchy-feely creatures. We imprint memories on objects, and we deeply recall tactile sensations. If you can incorporate physical interactions into your retail space – whether with the product itself or with a display – you can boost the emotion of the experience for your customers.
  2. Sensory. We have five senses, yet many retailers stop at sight when designing displays.  Ambient music, as in films, powerfully creates moods, while diffusing scents throughout the store not only adds to the narrative power of your displays, but links your retail space with the most deeply-rooted areas of your customers’ memories, boosting recall and loyalty.
  3. Cognitive. Give your customers something to think about. Engage their minds by creating narrative, intentional displays that will last longer in their memories and make a more powerful emotional connection.

Technology like Emotibot is making it easier for brands to create personalized, emotional experiences for their customers at scale.

5. Invest Time and Budget In Your Innovation Teams

As digital disruption creates a shorter and shorter shelf life for any given business process, many forward-thinking companies are investing in “innovation teams,” designed to study, predict, and adapt to future trends.

At GlobalShop 2018, we identified four keys to a successful innovation team:

  1. Adequate Funding. If you are asking your team to re-think a critical problem, especially at the enterprise level, their funding should be commensurate with the importance of the task before them. Innovation is not an area where you want to skimp, because an underpayment now may become an overpayment down the road.
  2. Autonomy. They must be able to make decisions for themselves. You are asking them to innovate, not to kowtow to existing corporate processes and hierarchies. Give your innovation team room to spread its wings.
  3. License to Fail. Innovation is experimental, and not every experiment is successful the first time. But that’s all right, because the process of innovation is iterative, and only the big risks that may result in failure have the chance of resulting in the kind of game-changing success that brands dream of.
  4. Time to Succeed. Big ideas take time. Innovation is a forward-focused science, and the fruits if your innovation team’s labors may not reveal themselves until some time down the line. Patience is a virtue, and by allowing your team time to work now, you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy their success later.

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Getting ahead of these five trends will be important for retail brands moving forward, both now and in the future. Having the agile, responsive marketing supply chain to actually execute these plans will be absolutely critical to making it possible.

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Why NVISION?

For more than three decades we’ve partnered with Fortune 500 companies to deliver marketing operations solutions. Led by a strategic account management team, we’ll help you develop, procure, fulfill and distribute printed collateral, signage, point-of-purchase displays, direct mail, branded merchandise and much more.

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Innovation: The Secret Value Hidden by Misconceptions

In hyper-competitive markets, innovation is the key to standing out. This is especially true in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry, where finite shelf space requires each brand to maximize every advantage it can.

But innovation can be a tricky thing. Not only can it be difficult to tell good change from bad before you’ve invested in and committed to it, but the true meaning – and value – of business innovation is widely misunderstood.

That’s according to Greg Satell of the Harvard Business Review, who explains that while many enterprises pay lip service to value “innovation,” few are taking the steps to actually do so, and even fewer are capitalizing on the enormous value lying hidden in modern business innovation.

Here are some of the biggest misconceptions, and areas of untapped value, surrounding innovation today.

Innovation: A Common Struggle

It’s no secret: no brand wants to be seen as the one that doesn’t value innovation. That’s why in a recent report from McKinsey, 84% of corporate executives claimed innovation is “key to achieving growth objectives.” Yet of those same executives, only 6% were satisfied with the “innovation performance” of their firm.

This is widely attributed to the fact that innovation is seen as a luxury, a “nice to have” asset rather than a core competency, and indeed, one that can fundamentally detract from operational efficiency in the here-and-now.

But this is simply a misconception, and an opportunity hiding in plain sight.

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Sow Innovation, Reap Returns

Look, we are not going to tell you not to focus on ROI. No business person worth his or her salt would. But in this case, it is helpful to think of ROI not just as Return on Investment, but as Return on Innovation, as well.

ROI is generally maximized by making continuous, incremental improvements in efficiency, thereby realizing a competitive advantage. And do you know what that is? Innovation.

Innovation can be a scary word, but it doesn’t necessarily mean monumental, gigantic, moonshot-level change. Innovators – and partners who know how to sniff out innovation – can often find clever ways to optimize efficiencies that have been hiding right in plain sight. Little tweaks here and there, slight changes to well-trod processes, at an enterprise level all add up to improvements in your bottom line that will have you hailed as a visionary innovator.

At the other end of the spectrum, corporations should not shy away from big, innovative ideas only because the return on their investment is more protracted and less guaranteed. Technology and a changing global economy are bringing disruption to each and every sector, and it’s already here for consumer packaged goods companies. When the round peg of disruption comes for the square hole of your tried-and-true processes, you’ll wish you had invested in innovation sooner. Return on investment in innovative research in the public sector is already estimated to be between 30% and 100%.

Innovation Solves Problems, Not Ideas

Innovation is not some highfalutin, head-in-the-clouds, abstract concept. It is about solving problems. That’s it.

Organizations that develop a systematic and disciplined process for identifying new problems outside of traditional methods are more frequently able to innovate consistently over an extended period of time. Establishing a framework for analyzing problems and minimizing bottlenecks in operational efficiency, or working with a trusted partner who specializes in doing so, is exactly how you embed sustainable innovation deep within the DNA of your company.

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Why NVISION?

For more than three decades we’ve partnered with Fortune 500 companies to deliver marketing operations solutions. Led by a strategic account management team, we’ll help you develop, procure, fulfill and distribute printed collateral, signage, point-of-purchase displays, direct mail, branded merchandise and much more.

LEARN MORE