Deloitte identified some major challenges to retailers, especially brick and mortar retailers, at the end of last year:
- Declining brand loyalty, especially among millennials
- Consumer caution, in spite of improvements in the economy
- Online shopping, including mobile shopping
- Increase in dollar and discount stores
- Rising and volatile commodity costs
- Decrease in innovation in established CPG companies
Brick and mortar retailers — from Main Street boutiques to Walmart — are hurting. At the same time, consumers are increasingly open to small, local, artisanal brands — or brands with that appearance from major players. Other factors that are part of the change in shopper behavior offer opportunities rather than merely challenges to CPG companies:
- Consumers want relationships with brands, but those relationships are complicated. Rather than just choosing the same brand her mother chose, modern consumers want to be able to tweet a question to a brand and get an answer. They’ll jump ship if they don’t get it, too.
- Consumers have much more power in the relationship. Where manufacturers used to own the conversation, and then retailers got to choose what products and pricing shoppers saw, consumers now walk into the store with lots of information. If they don’t see what they want, they know they can go elsewhere… or buy it with their phones without even leaving the store.
- The internet helps to level the playing field. Big players still have more to invest, but the smallest manufacturer can now have a great website and a strong social media presence.
The direct-to-consumer relationship can include ecommerce, of course, but brands can also be go-to resources at multiple points along the path the purchase, developing a degree of brand loyalty ads can’t touch. They can provide after-the-sale service that today’s retailers generally won’t. They can build communities around the brand and give consumers a sense that buying their brand is a decision that benefits the community or the world.
Blog posts answering the questions consumers have about the concerns that motivate them to research your product, recipes or craft ideas using your product, video tutorials for getting the most out of your product — those things are all online, and there’s no reason your company can’t be the one providing the best versions of them. The result can be stronger retail sales, online repurchasing, and great word of mouth.
Download our ebook, Top 10 Mistakes Brands Make in Internet Marketing, to learn how to develop that all-important direct-to-consumer relationship.