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Six winning strategies for growth in consumer packaged goods

To stay relevant in the changing consumer landscape, businesses must pivot their focus to reinvesting savings to drive growth.

Overview

Reducing costs is a critical activity—but it isn’t the only way to build an offensive edge in today’s competitive marketplace. To stay relevant, stable and strong in the changing consumer/channel landscape, consumer goods companies must pivot their focus to reinvesting savings to drive growth.

From our experience working with various clients, we have developed six strategies for CPG companies to pivot their focus from taking costs out, to achieving more sustainable growth.

Background

Forces across consumers, channels and products are adding complexity to an already competitive landscape.

Diverging consumer segments – The income gap in the U.S. has eroded the buying power of the middle class, shifting to affluent consumers creating an upmarket segment for premium offerings and lower market segment for low-cost products.

Increasing demand for healthy ingredients – CPG companies are responding to consumer demand for healthier products by reformulating ingredients, and shifting trade spend.

Convergence across categories and industries – A rise of new product-related innovations to meet consumer preferences for healthy foods. Many CPG brands now highlight restaurant-like qualities, bringing together once separate industry sectors.

More convenient packaging – Consumers want packaging that suit their lifestyles–re-sealable packaging, “speed scratch” cooking options and global experiences.

Rise of new channels – On-the-go nature of consumers has influenced shifts in channel preferences. Consumers are migrating away from traditional grocers and toward one-stop supercenters. More online and club purchases, and increased spending on dollar and small format stores.

Key Findings

In the face of slowing growth and increasing competition, CPG companies have been targeting their cost base as a means to shore up profitability.

Some cost take-out programs are aggressive (targeting billions in savings), and involve restructuring, de-layering, zero-based budgeting and supply chain optimization. Others are less transformative (targeting millions), mostly focused on SG&A expense scrutiny and manufacturing rationalization to reduce costs.

Revamp your offerings – Leading CPG companies regularly innovate across a wide range of offerings—from making packaging more convenient to expanding into cross-category bundling—to ensure they remain ahead of the competition.

Get closer to your consumer – Winning brands excel at using data and analytics to closely monitor shifting consumer preferences across channels.

Choose your channels – High performing CPG companies are executing tailored approaches for unique channels, for example, making their top offerings smaller for Dollar, larger for Club. We anticipate strongest growth with come from non-traditional channels.

Protect the core – CPG leaders know their value proposition because they regularly evaluate the consumer types, categories, channels and markets where they excel. Recently some CPG companies have sold non-core brands to help them refocus.

Innovate the business model – Leading companies that remain most relevant are the ones that not only keep the closest pulse on consumer buying patterns, but also rapidly adjust their products and channels to mirror preference shifts.

Grow through inorganic innovation – Acquisitions and transformative partnerships can allow CPG companies to better deliver on their value proposition and accelerate growth.