Evolve is a priority just to stay ahead of the pack

by | Jun 18, 2018 | Branding with impact

The fact is that with today’s constantly changing FMCG retail landscape, to stay ahead of your competitors you have no option BUT to keep evolving. 

You may recall that Mark Zuckerberg attempted to buy Snapchat for 3 billion dollars back in in November of 2013. His offer was rejected. Almost 3 years later, Instagram cloned Snapchat’s main features and launched ‘Instagram Stories’.

  • So…What are your competitors offering that you can do better?
  • Are you evolving as quickly as your competitors?

The key thing is always to embrace the change. That is the core value of Alibaba. The world is changing so fast. Today we are saying that everybody is on the internet … tomorrow everything will be connected. The internet will change.“ Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang told delegates to the Consumer Goods Forum Global Summit in Singapore


“Embrace change,” Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang

Evolve is a priority: Disruption right in front our eyes.

On-shelf disruption is happening constantly yet often times we barely notice the creep, creep of change before it’s too late. Take the mammoth growth of the health food section in the supermarket.

Being health conscious is fast becoming a way of life for many people of all ages with more than 60% of consumers now buying health products in their weekly shop. It’s pretty obvious that health and wellness has fast become a priority for consumers.

Blurring the lines

As a matter of fact, as a branding and packaging design agency, more and more, we are seeing the lines being blurred between consumer goods, biopharmaceuticals and cosmetics. The world of health, beauty and food all seem to be converging into an overarching category called “well-care.” This is a disruption that is happening right in front of us. How do you get ahead of this trend and more importantly stay ahead of the pack?

Evolve is a priority:  Private label’s accelerated growth

The quality of private-label products has improved substantially in recent years. Today’s private label products both look and taste good and the retailers continue to grow the number and quality of their own brand products because of the strong appeal they have with both low and middle-income consumers.

Even more change and disruption is predicted. 

Private label product ranges now account for well over a quarter of all supermarket sales (IBISWorld). These private label competitors also disrupt and change both their packaging design, pack form and categories really quickly.  Also because of the fact that these home brand product ranges are more profitable for the retailer, because of their higher margins, even more change and disruption is predicted.  The ongoing expansion of private-label products will continue contributing to price deflation and ongoing constraint of revenue growth for brands.

Evolve is a priority: Niche players innovating at pace 

Small food companies are rapidly gaining space in millennials’ shopping carts and on the super market shelves at the expense of slow to respond national brands.

With both distribution and marketing of products being easier and more cost effective than ever, it’s allowed more small player companies to enter the market and easily reach consumers, particularly millennials. While big brands still dominate, newcomers are gaining momentum. The bigger brands are still applying dated consumer retail sales strategies like cutting margins, whilst the smaller and more nimble companies are focused on innovating and bringing new products and new packaging designs to the shelf.

These smaller suppliers are quick to spot gaps in an existing category, in need of reinvigoration, and act on that insight. Whereas the big FMCG companies are much slower to respond.

Evolve is a priority: Promiscuous consumers – The BIG QUESTION

Consumers’ growing appetite for foods that feel healthier, fresher and less processed is one of the profound shifts in consumers’ preferences and priorities with respect to food”. Along with a mounting distrust of so-called “Big Food”, the consumer brands have to do a lot of heavy lifting to retain customer loyalty. In doing so they have to stay consistently relevant and at the same time appeal with appropriate messaging throughout the consumer journey.

(See: The Nescience Loop© : The unconscious buying framework that consumers go through when they are shopping. This framework allows brand managers to identify what level of sophistication their target consumers are in, so they can ensure the product pack (on the shelf) is aligned with the consumer’s needs.)

The ongoing erosion of brand loyalty

Big brands can no longer simply rely on cutting their margins to buy sales. They have no choice but to innovate or buy up those smaller innovators that are. Either way the ongoing erosion of brand loyalty and rapidly changing consumer tastes, has both Millenials and other consumers opting out of “what has always been” into “what’s now, what’s current?”. The informed consumers of today are constantly looking for “new and fresh”. 

This means that Senior Leadership, in an effort to combat the New Entrant and Private Label brand competitors, they MUST look beyond basic budgeting and 12 month sales projection plans. Whilst cutting costs and getting more done for less is important they need to also keep their eyes on the prize.

How can you own the consumer in a highly fickle and promiscuous consumer landscape?

Senior management has a responsibility to the brand by ensuring they look at becoming more nimble and innovative and buy into a new strategic brand journey plan.

Evolve is a priority: Creating a 4/5 year evolutionary strategic brand plan

The rapidly changing media and consumer landscape means that to remain truly competitive and current, need to expand their thinking out beyond their immediate ninety day to twelve month window. 

Evolutionary strategic brand planning used to be a primary means of sustaining business growth over time. It also just happened to be the most effective means to engage with and retain loyal customers. So why did we stop using a strategy that really worked?  Well, just like anything in life if you don’t use it, you lose it!

Have you been distracted from all it takes to ensure on-shelf success?

Today far too many brand marketers are distracted by performance pressure and a shift in focus to the huge variety of shiny marketing toys to play with. Unfortunately these diversions, albeit relevant, have detracted from the core of what it takes to make and keep a brand successful on shelf.

As a successful brand marketer you want to continually appeal to your existing customers as well as attract new consumers to your brand. At the same time you also want to keep expanding your existing sales base. To do this effectively over time requires you to develop an Evolutionary Strategic Brand Plan.

Some key questions to consider when creating a ‘straw man framework’ for your evolutionary strategic brand plan.

  • How is your brand communicating with your consumers? How will the brand be doing so 5 years from now? 
  • How are your customers and potential consumers perceiving your brand? How will they be perceiving it 5 years from now? 
  • How is your brand exceeding your customers expectations? How will it need to be doing so 5 years from now? 
  • Does your brand still resonate with them functionally and emotionally? How will it be doing so 5 years from now? 
  • How is the product/brand still adding value to them and their lives? How will it be doing so 5 years from now? 
  • How is the packaging design adding to the consumer experience with the brand? How will it be doing so 5 years from now? 
  • How has the packaging design evolved from where it was when you started? Where does it need to head and look 5 years from now?
  • How have you stayed ahead of your competitors whilst remaining relevant to your consumers? What will that take 5 years from now?

Would you like a category review to understand where your brand needs to be headed to regain competitive advantage, email ian@jamandco.com.au