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Why 57% of Consumer Goods Execs Plan To Invest In Consumer Data

Why 57% of Consumer Goods Execs Plan To Invest In Consumer Data

The majority of consumer firms have recognized their future lies in how they can reimagine customer experiences based on what they learn from data.

Keep the shelves well-stocked. Play some upbeat pop music softly in the background. Hire friendly people who will be waiting with a smile at the checkout. For a long time, these are the fundamentals of providing a great experience in the consumer goods sector. Today, market research tells a much different story.

According to a recent survey sponsored by Salesforce and conducted by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, the majority of consumer firms have recognized their future lies in how they can reimagine customer experiences based on what they learn from data.

This is because shopping and providing goods has become more complex as consumers embrace digital-first lifestyles. They’re researching, shopping and talking about the brands they care about through digital channels and services. They reach out for service and support via chatbot rather than trekking back to a store. And they post reviews and ratings across a vast array of third-party sites and apps.

Why Consumer Goods Companies Are Considering New Business Models

As a result, the study found 42% of consumer goods firms are adopting new business models. This could mean expanding beyond traditional retail partners and setting up a direct-to-consumer division, for instance. In other cases, consumer goods firms are adapting their product mix: nearly half, or 48% said they are focusing on value items and essentials in order to attract high-end and cost-conscious shoppers at the same time.

These sorts of decisions can pay off, but only if they are made with a solid underpinning of data. When you see that your existing customers are spending more time online, for instance, investing in e-commerce capabilities can be a way of meeting them where they are. Technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) can take that historical data even further, analyzing past purchase histories to predict what will become popular (and at risk of a stockout) during the upcoming holiday season.

In many cases consumer goods firms may have a wealth of this data already at their disposal. They just lack the right platforms to synthesize and make sense of it. Even as they move away from legacy applications to modern tools, however, they have another challenge to consider: where that data might be locked away.

Unifying The Team Around A Single Source Of Truth In The Consumer Goods Sector

It’s not uncommon for data silos to spring up, almost unnoticed, across the various lines of business over time. These silos are dangerous because they mean customer data might be duplicated, where one set is more accurate or up to date than another. Worse, a patchwork selection of data means those in senior leadership teams aren’t seeing the full picture of what’s going on in their business, and where they could introduce meaningful improvements.

The survey drove this point home: the 57% who are investing in customer data are specifically looking to unify data management (via a CRM, for instance) across all key functional areas. This encompasses:

  • R&D: They need to create the consumer goods shoppers will pay for, but they can’t do so in a vacuum. They need insights from customer data, which may be captured through the following functions.
  • Sales: When certain products drive more revenue than others, it’s a good indication of the features or additional items they might want. The problems or aspirations top-selling products align with can then inform:
  • Marketing: Creating demand for new and existing products becomes much easier when campaigns are based on data around customer preferences. Marketing firms can also enrich the work they do and tell stories about the experience a brand is trying to create through data from:
  • Service: Customers don’t tend to be shy when they have an issue with a company and its products. Analyzing and acting on this feedback can influence everything from the logistics of fulfilling orders to the overall budgets the finance department needs to set.

Platforms like Customer 360 were designed with his kind of holistic approach to customer experience design in mind. It doesn’t have to be a chore to become a data-first consumer goods company. The alternative – doing nothing – poses much greater risks.

Another research study from consulting firm EY found that 69% of Canadian consumers plan to repair goods rather than replace them, while 25% are looking for second-hand products. This means competing on the quality of the customer experience you deliver will make all the difference in gaining share of wallet among frugal consumers.

What Outstanding CX in Consumer Goods Looks Like

Whether they’re buying clothes, groceries or a large kitchen appliance, Canadian consumers are like shoppers the world over in that their expectations have changed. They still want and need to make purchases, but making the payment is just one stage in the journey they undertake. The customer experience they’re looking for includes:

  • Choice: Not only a choice in the consumer goods they buy, but the channels they can use to discover and make purchases. Even those who are coming back to stores are also shopping online, via social media platforms like Instagram and with mobile apps.
  • Relevance: Consumer goods brands may entice shoppers with promotional offers, but they can’t be random offers. Data will allow them to personalize everything from the ads they see to how their personal information is used to streamline the buying and shipping process.
  • Simplicity: It should be as easy to connect and communicate with consumer goods firms through digital channels as walking into a retail store and talking to an associate. Conversations need to move fluidly from text messages and calls to social media posts and e-mail messages. Systems that recognize customers should simplify not only browsing products, receiving recommendations and shopping, but returning items and managing account profiles as well.

Check out the full study, Consumer-Goods Firms Dig Deeper into Data for Superior Customer Experience, for more highlights from the survey and practical takeaways to begin transforming your business for the better.

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