What is the future of the FMCG shopper? That is a question that many of us in the FMCG industry ask on a regular basis. What we do know is that the industry needs to expect and plan for the unexpected, now more than ever. With the outbreak of the global pandemic driving the industry to pivot quickly to continue their business processes, it is clear that retailers and brands need to maximise their appeal in a world where shoppers now take a very different approach to retail and online shopping.
One of the most significant challenges brands and retailers face today as local markets emerge from the global pandemic at varying rates is how to adapt to fragmented shopper demands. The ability to achieve accurate shopper insights and react immediately has never been more complex, yet more vital to its ability to appeal to the varied needs and desires of shoppers.
Shopper behaviour is evolving in fundamental ways right now. The socio-economic impact of the pandemic is forcing shoppers to rethink how they shop and what they buy. Whilst habits used to take months or years to form, that is no longer the world we live in. Shoppers were forced to adjust to new conditions overnight and the consequences of that are here to stay.
The industry is facing a clear need. Shoppers want to live healthier and sustainable lives. But the expectation of the shopper is that the industry will play a vital role in being part of this solution to solve today’s leading challenges. By working together and acting on today’s leading industry challenges, retailers, brands and product content providers can evolve business models, share extensive data and innovate new solutions to meet the needs of the shopper.
Health and wellness
The global pandemic has given many of us a greater appreciation for our health, impacting how we spend our time and money on health-related products. Shoppers are spending more time considering the long-term implications of their choices. Research from NielsenIQ Unlocking Shopper Consumption report illustrates how the pandemic has driven these changes with 45% increase in shoppers stating that they are eating healthier foods, and 34% confirming that they have shifted their purchasing behaviour to aim towards healthier options.
Shoppers are also looking for healthier, higher-quality food options, with NielsenIQ research demonstrating that households are seeking more produce (19%), and organic (15%), sugar-free (12%) and vegetarian (11%) options to name just a few. In response to this, healthy product innovation will be a critical driver to success moving forwards. By meeting the demands of the shoppers and highlighting the key product attributes within the messaging, packaging and placement of the products both online and in-store, shopper loyalty will grow exponentially as shoppers want complete transparency on what is in the products they purchase and what the benefits are.
Whilst the pandemic has driven forward the focus on health and wellness and new product development, sustainability still remains a focal point for shoppers across the world. To some extent, the pandemic has been a test to brands and retailers to see if they can react in socially responsible and sustainable ways.
Shoppers demand product transparency to identify healthy, socially and environmentally friendly products that meet their desired needs and enable them to make an informed purchasing decision. In fact pre-pandemic, 74% of US millennials said they are more likely to purchase from brands supporting social issues that they care about. Whilst this number seems daunting, it makes things simple as it is rare that there is one that resonates so deeply with so many at once. Those brands and retailers that transform and pivot their business with a purpose to support sustainability will be able to resonate with shoppers and deliver an experience that is more authentic and memorable that not only enables survival but most importantly build their reputations and continue to grow their brand loyalty.
There is clear evidence that the global pandemic has accelerated the change in shopper behaviours. Today’s shoppers are coming to the digital shelf with an increasingly diverse set of needs and requirements from their products, and each shopper’s needs set is different from the rest. The why behind the buy – the hows and whats of a considered product, are increasingly becoming the primary decision-making criteria that drive shopper purchasing decisions. This has added an entirely new layer of complexity to how brands and retailers provide information to shoppers, packaging and market their products.
Building the connection between the shopper and brand or retailer is critical. In a time where shoppers expect a personalisation at all touchpoints, it is vital that brands and retailers understand what product claims are most important to their shoppers so they can utilise an extensive range of data to drive a unique shopping experience. By streamlining the discovery of products by improving search and sort functionality, shoppers are able to find appropriate products based on their needs, encouraging future promotions and interactions to be tailored to the shopper’s needs by personalising the online shopping experience.
To win the shopper of the future, it is vital that retailers leverage a broad range of data attributes sourced from a product to drive business processes, ecommerce interaction and navigation, internal database and reporting functionality. Shoppers want the most extensive and structured set of attributes across all products to drive purchasing decisions. Having a better understanding of what the shopper wants and needs and utilising insights against sales data to understand where success is coming from, will enable brands and retailers to be one step ahead of the rest and win the omnichannel battle.