Choices amid change

Everything in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry has changed in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic, but one thing remains constant: brand relevance matters. Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) recognize the need to sharpen relevance. The pandemic simply accelerated the need. Consumer preferences are changing quickly. They are buying different products today and through channels they may not have pursued before. CPG leaders can take advantage of this unique moment in time to make important decisions that will fuel relevance and spark future success.

"There is no "one-size fits all" solution anymore…one or two big brands cannot satisfy people’s complex needs. In the world as it is today, we can only command growth if we play a portfolio game."

— MARCEL MARCONDES, Chief Marketing Officer – AB Inbev US (1)

Consumers

New preferences, behaviors and habits are emerging in the wake of COVID-19. People are concerned about health and safety, shopping more consciously and spending more on essentials and less on luxury items. CPG companies must heed these shifts and find new ways to deliver what consumers want and need when they need it. Those brands that have the flexibility to adapt to emerging consumer segments will be relevant in their hearts and minds.



Channels

The ways in which consumers buy and the ways in which companies must market to them are changing. For instance, demand has greatly shifted to online. During the COVID-19 outbreak, new ecommerce users increased their usage of the channel by 156%, and plan to continue similarly after the outbreak, according to Accenture consumer research.2 Shoppers are buying through text messaging and social media platforms. Brands are selling direct to consumers. It’s a multi-faceted omnichannel world and those who have an integrated brand presence across channels tick one more box on the relevance list.

Commitments

Brands must deliver on a purpose and prove to consumers that they say what they do and do what they say. Having iconic power brands is no longer enough to command consumer loyalty or drive growth. As we look forward, brand relevance can help strengthen relationships (as trust is in short supply) and lead to differentiation in a crowded market.

It’s time to explore this opportunity, dynamically adapting and making sure you have the right portfolio of brands to be enduringly relevant to consumers and customers—and thrive in the new era.

Four steps to drive brand relevance

CPG companies are at a pivotal point. The moves leaders make now will strengthen relationships and relevance to drive the growth needed to thrive in the future.

1. Get granular about segmentation

Understand the always-evolving segments—how and what they buy, and how this is changing. Capture and act on rich data from retailers, the ecosystem and consumer behavior to tailor a value proposition for each segment before your competitors do!

2. Connect with consumers in relevant ways

Companies need a channel strategy to unify the digital brand experience online to resonate with consumers, especially incorporating new channels and methods of commerce like social commerce and text-to-buy.

3. Power your purpose

Give the brand meaning with a defined and differentiated brand purpose that solves a consumer problem. Purpose can fulfil a functional, emotional or social need. Make a statement about the brand’s role and value in the lives of consumers.

4. Reimagine the portfolio

Assess how your current portfolio aligns to target segments, channels and purpose. Re-evaluating brand roles is not a one-time exercise but an on-going practice. Portfolios are likely to become more complex yet more dynamic and adaptable.

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Relevance restored

These steps are all important—and one should inform the next. But we also must recognize that these are unprecedented times. Brands must work harder than ever to remain relevant in a world where consumers are highly concerned about health and safety. Your business must ask: How will we earn consumer trust? How can we deliver value? How can we meet new imperatives for sustainability?

How will you sharpen your brand relevance in a world where the drivers of choice are constantly evolving? It’s a challenging time, but it’s also one of promise. Your brand can be the one to fulfil a functional, emotional or social need for consumers. It can have a clear and meaningful purpose and deliver on it every day. Your business can become more relevant to be stronger and more profitable than ever. Seize this moment.

Sources:

1 Anheuser-Busch InBev Investor Day, New York City, May 21, 2019. Available on this link.

2 Accenture COVID-19 Consumer Research, conducted 20th-25th May, 2020

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