Laura Gurski is senior managing director of Accenture's consumer goods and services practice where she oversees the development and delivery of marketing, customer service, commerce and sales transformation services.
Convenience matters to today’s consumers as much as ever – perhaps even more so. But like so much else in the digital era, what we mean by convenience is changing significantly.
As a selling concept, convenience once meant providing a product or experience within a reasonable distance, perhaps on the way home from work or in a town nearby. Stores would offer extended opening times to make it even easier for consumers to buy at a time that suited their needs. More recently, if that need was not too urgent, consumers could order online and expect a delivery within a few days.
Times have changed. Gone are the days when it simply meant “fast and easy.” Now it’s more multifaceted and context dependent. And brands need to understand the nuanced trade-offs that consumers are willing to make to get the kind of convenience they’re looking for.
Sometimes that will still be about speed and simplicity. Other times it'll be much more about precision and relevance in the moment. Consider how Amazon Go is redefining convenience for the digital age. Cutting-edge technology and data science aren't just making the in-store shopping experience seamless, it's also helping the company fine tune the assortments they know will most appeal to consumers in each locality.
Convenience today is about doing the small things well, focusing on the detail and using digital technologies to deliver something that’s "just right" for each individual when they need it.
Look at the myriad of new ways brands are helping consumers cut out the complexity from day-to-day living? Whether it's "help me do it" with meal kits, "do it for me" with Ikea and Task Rabbit, or "get it right for me the first time" with hyper-personalized recommendations, these brands are taking consumer convenience to new places.
For food and beverage brands, it means a laser focus on delivering exactly this kind of modern hyper-relevant convenience.
Convenience in the home
Just look at the Drinkworks Home Bar, a smart new consumer product combining deep insights into user behavior with human-centered design and clever engineering to provide next-level consumer convenience.
Drinkworks created a first-of-its-kind machine designed to prepare bar-quality cocktails, ciders and brews at the touch of a button.
Convenience, not just for end consumers
Consumer experiences are entertainment – and they happen anywhere and everywhere. Today's brands are redesigning customer experiences, and as they do so they’re starting to reimagine the way we think of space, leveraging the power of digital, physical and social connection.
Consumers don't always just want those experiences to be fast and hassle-free – oftentimes they want to slow down, be engaged, learn and have fun with friends. For consumer goods companies, it's critical to recognize how this changes the way a brand interacts with its customers.
By building new experiences and services around a brand, companies create new opportunities to fulfill consumers' desires, build attachment and generate value for the business. Think about how packaged goods brands can build replenishment and other subscription services around the consumption experience. It’s all about using consumer insights to transform a one-off interaction into an ongoing value-generating experience.
Think small, be relevant, deliver big results
Successful food and beverage brands of the future will be those who have a clear focus on doing the small things brilliantly, focusing on meeting consumer needs in the moment and bringing it all together to deliver better and more convenient customer experiences.
But be careful, consumers don't always just want those experiences to be fast and hassle-free – oftentimes they want to slow down, be engaged, learn and have fun with friends. It's critical to recognize how this changes the way a brand interacts with its customers. And it means walking a fine line between offering super convenient and cool experiences and making consumers feel engaged.
By creating smart new products, services and experiences that are entirely relevant for customers at just the right moment, companies will increasingly understand what’s needed to win in today's hyper-competitive marketplace.
It takes next-level agility to deliver this kind of individualized relevance at scale. But it's essential for future competitive advantage. All food and beverage companies should be thinking about how to get stuck into the heart of the integrated digital marketplace, delivering moment-by-moment convenience for their customers and safeguarding their brands for a new era of growth.