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The Shift to D2C: How Consumer Goods Can Connect With Consumers

Consumer goods brands have traditionally been at arm’s length from consumers, despite being built around consumer needs, making keeping up with the shifting priorities and expectations of those consumers an ongoing challenge.

Today, new digital platforms are enabling consumer goods businesses to get a better view of the consumer – and to take back some of the power traditionally held by retailers. But in order to optimise these digital solutions and thrive in an increasingly competitive climate, business leaders have to navigate a world where traditional companies have diversified. 

Instagram is the new shopping mall, the direct-to-consumer (D2C) channel has become paramount, and delivering on sky-high consumer expectations is more important than ever.

It’s a digital frontier, and businesses need to innovate – and keep innovating – to keep the consumer on side and stay ahead of their competitors.

How the consumer goods industry is evolving

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed consumers and the face of commerce as we know it, and just about every consumer has grown familiar with new ways of shopping in a socially distanced world. For many, there’s no going back to the old ways of doing business, and online channels and D2C have become vital as a result. 

This presents new opportunities for consumer goods companies, which have traditionally been wary of disrupting their relationships with retailers and distributors, but which now, in the face of an unprecedented technological acceleration, need to invest heavily in creating D2C digital journeys. Indeed, these new consumer behaviours and methods of interaction are here to stay, and that digital adoption is only expected to increase further.

Businesses will need to concentrate on distribution models, selecting the best technologies, owning first-party data and forming a customer-centric team, as well as balancing their retail and D2C strategies.

Imran Khan

Australia is something of a late adopter when it comes to online commerce, as both the US and the UK have significantly higher penetration (10.8%, 15.2% and 18.3% respectively). But stay-at-home measures have led to changes in behaviour that have narrowed that gap, and CG companies looking to thrive now and in the future must engage with their consumers and add value to long-lasting relationships. 

A look back at consumer behaviour following the SARS outbreak in 2003 – and the resultant emergence of digital services – shows that once the impetus for change occurs, the landscape shifts rapidly and slow-moving organisations are left behind.

Engaging consumers is the top priority

Traditional channels may have been disrupted, but the consumer’s needs haven’t gone away – the race to meet those needs is underway. The chance to establish and nurture a direct-to-consumer presence built on convenience and trust is an exceptional opportunity that can lead to sustainable, scalable growth. It’s no surprise, then, that according to a recent Salesforce report, 99% of CG leaders say that they’re dedicated to investing in D2C strategies. It’s no longer just a competitive advantage, it’s an imperative.

Focusing on D2C means tackling new organisational challenges. Businesses will need to concentrate on distribution models, selecting the best technologies, owning first-party data and forming a customer-centric team, as well as balancing their retail and D2C strategies. 

In the age of Amazon, consumers have come to expect exceptional service and dynamic interactions – wallet share is won by agility, responsiveness, hyper-personalised experiences and relevant products. 

 Just ‘being there’ for the customer isn’t enough, as businesses need to reach out and engage with consumers whenever and wherever they desire, and then deliver the exceptional omni-channel and real-time experiences they’ve come to expect. 

Find out more about how consumer goods businesses are engaging the new consumer at Salesforce Live Australia and New Zealand on 19 August. 

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Imran Khan is CPG Industry Strategy Director APAC at Salesforce.

Salesforce Staff

The 360 Blog from Salesforce teaches readers how to improve work outcomes and professional relationships. Our content explores the mindset shifts, organizational hurdles, and people behind business evolution. We also cover the tactics, ethics, products, and thought leadership that make growth a meaningful and positive experience.

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