- A new IRI report expects consumers to continue conservative purchasing behaviors in 2016 —ones likely carried over from the recession nearly a decade ago.
- These conservative shoppers weakened volume trends for CPG companies, though dollar sales remained strong thanks to inflation and decreased merchandising activity.
- The report also suggests that consumers' "path to purchase has changed," Susan Viamari, vice president of thought leadership for IRI, told Food Business News. This new path is leading the way for the growth of e-commerce, which consumers will come to expect more of from food and beverage manufacturers.
IRI recommends that companies be more strategic with their target marketing, particular in online media. Honing in on a particular demographic with a message that resonates is key. And if that message is more product-centric and/or experience-based, all the better.
Through e-commerce and online marketing efforts, companies will be able to collect more data on consumers and purchasing behaviors. Snickers has already begun using this strategy. The brand collects first-party behavioral data, testing the effectiveness of messaging on how it entices consumers with various mood signals. Data collection and analysis have also played a role in helping companies identify the next big flavor trend they can use to help their products stand out in a crowded marketplace.
Food and beverage manufacturers have been slower than other industries to adopt e-commerce, but the trend is picking up. Food and beverage e-commerce sales are expected to reach $12 billion by 2018, according to eMarketer.
Last year, Mondelez introduced Oreo Colorfilled packaging consumers could customize online. Bud Light launched the Bud-E Fridge that detects when consumers' beer supply is low and automatically connects them with an alcohol delivery service. Earlier this year, Snyder's-Lance debuted Snack Shack, an online snack store for the company's products. A General Mills exec said e-commerce would become "mission critical" in an interview with Food Dive last year.