By Jacqueline Rosales, COO, SoapBoxSample and icanmakeitbetter
With the global online grocery market predicted to reach $334 billion by 2022 (Forrester Research, 2019), the transformation of legacy grocery and retail practices, products and mindset is shifting rapidly. The industry is seeing new players enter, and take ownership of a full category, or create a whole new product category in a very short time. The threats are coming from all directions, and retail and grocery brands must not lose focus of the consumer drivers.
Sustainable Products are Now Mainstream
“It takes years to transform an industry that has relied on plastic. Grove Collaborative consumer products will be positive for human and environmental health. Grove consumers are all about celebrating the amazing choice people make across the country.”
– Stu Landesberg, Co-Founder & CEO of Grove Collaborative
Consumers are demanding sustainability — and brands are taking notice. Shoppers are more knowledgeable than ever about the environmental impact of the products that they choose and they are concerned about wasteful packaging. For example, an estimated 5 billion cleaning bottles will be thrown away this year alone. Brands who can address these concerns will have a strategic advantage over those who disregard environmental issues.
Grove Collaborative has embodied sustainability in the products they offer and have recently earned a $1 billion dollar valuation, earning the coveted Unicorn Status. The success of brands like Grove Collective, who make sustainability the cornerstone of their branding, proves that sustainability is becoming the new norm.
Brands Should Heed the E-Commerce Model, Even Offline
“Stores need to replicate the e-commerce model with the right info at the right time… Customer journeys are like spaghetti – starting at one channel and stringing to the end seamlessly.”
– Doug Stratton, Chief Digital Commerce Officer of The Hershey Company
Brands must eliminate friction at every stage of the consumer journey. Consumers want to be able to go to a company website, order a product and choose to pick-it up in-store or have it delivered. During the process they want everything to work seamlessly. If they have a question, they want to be able to call the store, talk to a store clerk about their order, and have them help with the order without any hiccups.
The consumer experience might be the most important factor for building a successful brand. Companies across the grocery and CPG ecosystem need access to reliable customer feedback to gauge the success of their channels. What your consumers like and dislike should be measured and implemented into new products and marketing strategy. Warning, here comes a shameless plug. Partnering with a research firm who understands the grocery and CPG space is a great way to understand every nuance of your customers’ experiences.
CBD has a Bright Future
“Be prepared to win, get steamrolled, or become an acquisition target.”
– Bethany Gomez, Managing Director, Brightfield Group
In the CPG industry, cannabidiol (CBD) has been hyped as the next multi-billion-dollar ingredient. The inclusion of CBD in everyday products has exploded, along with consumer interest. New product development, driven by perceived health benefits, presents massive growth opportunities for CPG brands. Some of the biggest opportunities for CBD infusion are in beauty, beverage and pet products. To be successful in these markets, brands should be willing to experiment, take risks, and invest in research to understand the modern cannabis consumer. Relying on guts and guesses will not work.
“Consumers are intrigued by the availability of new cannabis products. For people who are nervous about the psychoactive effects, CBD-only or CBD-dominant products are a great entry into this category. Meanwhile, companies are approaching the marketplace with CBD products first, because they’re not sure if a product that gets people high is right for their brand. Many companies are still in a test and learn phase,” said Adriana Hemans, Director of Marketing, SoapBoxSample.
Recent findings from SoapBoxSample’s CANNApinion poll show that 10% of U.S. grocery shoppers have consumed food or beverages containing hemp in the past month — and that number is likely to grow rapidly with increasing state legalization. Knowing this, big brands are taking a hard look at how they can capitalize on emerging trends in cannabis. “Larger companies have more to lose, so getting on shelves is easier to do for smaller companies while they wait for the FDA to approve CBD as an additive. The big guys are coming in 18 months when the FDA provides more guidance,” stated Bethany Gomez, Managing Director, Brightfield Group.
Now is an exciting time for the grocery and CPG industry. Sustainability concerns, the growth of the cannabis market, and the need to streamline the consumer journey will transform businesses over the coming years. Brands can gain a competitive advantage by working with a research company that provides thought partnership and consultative approaches. This means going beyond measuring trends, to understand the underlying cultural shifts that drive consumer behavior.
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