Keen’s marketing analytics experts identify three steps brand marketers can take today to positively impact your brand’s marketing performance.

“Trouble lurks for giants in consumer packaged goods. From 2011 to 2015 large CPG companies lost nearly three percentage points of market share.” The Economist’s 2015 prognostication continues to play itself out in the retail marketplace.

Industry influencer Food Navigator put a fine point on the challenge ahead: “In 2015, the top 25 food and beverage companies generated 45 percent of category sales in the U.S. but drove just 3 percent of total category growth from 2011 to 2015…..So if they are not driving growth, who is?”

Steve Veldhoen identifies two emerging consumer profiles he dubbed selectionists and survivalists in his “2017 Consumer Packaged Goods Trends.

“Selectionists can afford to be choosy and ‘select’ for products they perceive as being of much higher quality, driving demand for niche ‘challenger’ brands.”

Survivalists, including retirees and millennials saddled with college debt, “are cutting back and looking for value” — a boon for value-focused brands and retailers.

“[The U.S.] grocery channel share of all packaged-goods sales is forecast to drop from about 45 percent today to about 37 percent by 2025,” Veldhoen said. “Picking up the slack will be warehouse clubs such as Costco and Sam’s Club, dollar stores such as Dollar General, convenience stores, and online retailers, such as Amazon Fresh and Fresh Direct.”

3 Ways to Change Your Game

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by these dynamics, but Keen Decision Systems CEO Greg Dolan offers hope in the form of actionable steps marketers can take mid-year to create wins.

1. Take Back Ownership of Your Brand.

Stop thinking incrementally and start focusing on winning. Where are you looking to benchmark success? Your own brand’s past performance? Your competitors’ past performance? True brand leadership looks beyond ROI and takes a holistic approach to the marketing mix that spans trade, sales and consumer promotions, with fully visibility and transparency.

2. Define Your Success.

What do you want to accomplish? A former CPG brand marketer himself, Dolan acknowledges it’s far too easy to get caught in the “incremental ROI trap;” benchmarking to the prior year.

“That’s not a winning strategy; it’s not even a survival strategy in today’s marketplace,” he says. Instead marketers must begin to think differently, beginning with goal setting. Here are some scenarios to consider optimizing against:

  • Fixed budget: Do you have a fixed budget and seek to maximize profitability?
  • Revenue target: Are you focused on reaching a specific revenue target?
  • Profitability: Or, do you want to maximize profitability?

Modeling investments against these forward-focused goals is the best way to disrupt brand deterioration due to incrementalism. Rather than settle for the net revenue you’re going to get based on your current spend, challenge your plan with this question:

“What net revenue could I achieve if I optimized my spend?” 

3. Re-establish Balance in Your Mix.

Once the backbone of every CPG brand’s marketing mix, traditional media has been pushed aside in favor of mobile, digital and social media.

“The pendulum has swung, but winning brands show it’s better not to swing all the way,” Dolan said. “Brand managers using Keen’s software tool to model their optimal marketing mixes, consistently report that a more balanced mix of traditional (TV, radio and print) and digital media delivers better outcomes more cost-efficiently.

While digital tactics will continue increasing as a percentage of overall mix, by no means should they represent all the spending. The key is understanding the impact of both investment level and timing, something Keen’s tool models with precision, according to Dolan.

One Keen customer, a CPG health and beauty brand, had eliminated TV from its marketing mix. Using Keen’s tool, the team uncovered a growth opportunity if they shifted dollars from print to TV at a scant 3-4 GRPs per week. The brand manager followed the recommendation, producing low-cost creative with stock video. After just four months on-air the team was celebrating 12 percent growth, a milestone as this brand had not achieved a positive ROI since joining the portfolio.

A Path Forward

The challenge for marketers will be to change their thinking and decision-making quickly enough to get ahead of sweeping market changes.

Winning brand managers will replace gut decision-making designed to maintain status quo with data-driven decision strategies focused on optimized outcomes. And, annual planning timeframes will be replaced by iterative decisions, either following periods of heavy spend or to accelerate goal achievement.

Keen Decision Systems’ tools help marketers make dynamic, data-driven decisions that build winning brands.