The New Consumer You

By Tom Branna, Editorial Director | April 29, 2010

The consumer packaged goods business has changed dramatically, according to SymphonyIRI Group.

The Great Recession has transformed the consumer packaged goods industry from a high single-digit growth business to low or no growth, according to Romesh Wadhwani, chairman, SymphonyIRI Group (formerly Information Resources, Inc), Chicago.

“Macroforces are driving change and we must change dramatically with innovation,” Wadhwani told attendees at Summit 2010, which was held last month in San Antonio, TX.

The event attracted more than 1000 executives from a variety of companies who were eager to learn more about the forces that are reshaping the retail landscape. At the same time, the host company took the opportunity to detail its transformation into SymphonyIRI Group Inc. The move is said to combine IRI’s rich heritage in market measurement with Symphony’s expanded ability to solve clients’ most challenging strategic business issues.
According to Wadhwani, we now live in an “Age of Thrift and Affordability,” that’s been brought about by a major change in consumer buying behavior. He maintains that consumers are channel downshifting, opting for club and dollar stores over traditional retail outlets. At the same time, consumers are no longer willing to pay for convenience. In fact, according to data from SymphonyIRI Group, last year the number of trips consumers took in search of value reached 600 million.

“The number of stores a shopper goes to each month has doubled,” he insisted. “How can you take advantage of this trend?”

Another game-changing trend is the rise of spending on health and wellness, a category that posted meaningful growth in recession-plagued 2009 and one that is expected to record double-digit growth over the next five years, according to SymphonyIRI Group.

Capturing the Consumer

So, how can CPG companies reconnect with these savvier customers who are no longer so easily parted from their hard-earned dollars? Wadhwani urged attendees to create new values for their brands using shopper-centric brand management that does not rely on retailer deals. But to achieve that goal, executives must begin work upstream during the brand strategy phase.

Romesh Wadhwani
At the same time, CPG executives must integrate the “consumer view” with the “shopper view,” according to Wadhwani.

“The consumer is different at different times of the day,” he insisted.

Executives must also sharpen their “occasion-based” marketing skills to improve their share of a consumer’s wallet. CPG companies must learn more about the consumer and when and where he or she is willing to spend money.

Wadhwani cautioned the audience that just as broadcast TV is losing share to cable and other media outlets, so too are scatter-shot marketing tactics. With more consumers making lists, it’s more important than ever to increase direct response marketing campaigns, he maintained.

Get on the List

As household budgets tightened, consumers became more frugal. This newfound frugality means impulse buying is out and list making is in. In fact, according to SymphonyIRI, the percentage of shoppers who make lists before venturing out rose from 50% to 85%. Therefore, it is critical for CPG companies to develop effective direct response programs in order to get on as many shopping lists as possible, according to Wadhwani. Still, during the Great Recession some groups spent more than others. In fact, high-income folks spent less than middle- and low-income groups. In fact, there was double-digit growth in spending among low-income consumers and young boomers.

To target all of these consumers effectively, SymphonyIRI has formed a new shopper market initiative that includes:
• A Consumer Network consisting of more than 85,000 U.S. households to collect purchase information about categories, brands and individual items;
• Target Advantage web-based solution that helps retailers and manufacturers reach their most valued shoppers through advanced segmentation and targeting capabilities;
• ShopperVoice that supplements traditional consumer purchase panel information via a custom online shopper forum that allows for real-time interaction with shoppers;
• ShopperLink that links traditional attitudinal survey results with other data sources to score how well marketers perform against their key shopper segments and track their performance over time; and
• Advisory Services that provide SymphonyIRI experts to guide strategy development and customization of the shopper-centric strategy and execution plans to ensure that results align with the company’s specific needs.

“CPG leaders are reconnecting with shoppers directly and can no longer rely on mass media and standardized products that are not customized to the needs of discreet shopper groups,” noted Bob Tomei, president, SymphonyIRI Consumer & Shopper Insights.

During the two-day event, attendees also heard from leading marketers and retailers who recounted how their companies have succeeded in this new consumer-centric world.•

More info: www.symphonyiri.com

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