A recent report by the Grocery Manufacturers Association and PricewaterhouseCoopers found that leading retailers and consumer packaged goods firms have benefited from a more technologically connected customer.
Despite the slowing of net sales growth rates last year, food, beverage and household products companies saw positive sales growth of seven percent, 5.5 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively.
A more connected, digital customer has forced some retailers and CPG companies to find alternative ways to engage consumers, and a more connected consumer has allowed companies to balance operational quality and innovation.
“CPG companies that engage with consumers directly through digital channels and build out their direct-to-consumer processes will have the best advantage for creating new growth,” Steven Barr, PwC’s U.S. leader in retail and consumer industry, said. “Fifty-two percent of U.S. consumers are already buying directly online from brands they trust, proving that CPG companies now have far greater opportunities to walk alongside their shoppers in real time while driving sales of existing and new products.”
This year, more than 40 percent of CPG companies plan to sell products directly to consumers—an increase from 24 percent last year. The report indicated that direct-to-consumer allows firms to test new products and reach out to consumers faster and more effectively.
“Consumers today share much more readily with each other and with the companies than in the past,” Hershey President of International Operations Bert Alfonso said. “Their input tends to be about your product’s characteristics and about what they like and don’t like. We see it in North America, China, Brazil and in other markets that have a high penetration of both mobile and Internet usage. And that’s a rich body of information for companies, which is much more spontaneous and actionable than what you would have had in the past.”