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The consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry is expected to reach more than $760 billion by 2020 – and that’s just in the U.S. Globally, generational shifts and spending patterns mean CPG brands are poised for massive success – but only if they move with the times and keep up with the evolving market.

The new NetBase 2018 Social Intelligence Report: Consumer Products illustrates upcoming industry changes, while offering tactics for CPG brands – and others – to apply to reap rewards now and into the future. Here are some highlights:

Find and Embrace Your Niche

Competition is stiffer for consumer products than for many other industries. With competitors directly next to you on a shelf, there’s very little to prevent even loyal customers from choosing something new – especially if items are on sale, or there’s an in-store coupon enticing them to go with a certain brand in the moment.

If you want that choice to be your brand, you’ve got to understand what motivates it. And you’ve got to figure out what makes your brand unique in a way that fulfills consumer needs.

Social listening, social monitoring, and sentiment analysis should all be part of your social intelligence gathering.

Social listening reveals the topics consumers are most invested in – aided by sentiment analysis, which prioritizes which take priority based on consumer passion. This lets you understand what consumers want from your brand, or from any brand in your category.

If you can offer something your audience desires, but other brands are lacking, all the better. That could be anything from eco-friendly packaging, organic ingredients, a percentage of sales donated to a charity they care about, etc. They’ll tell you what they want – you just have to pay attention.

Empowering gum packaging tweet

Meanwhile, social monitoring keeps you from missteps by alerting you to any spikes in negative sentiment – a campaign going wrong, a disgruntled customer trying to cause trouble, and the like.

Amazon is a great example of a unique distributor of consumer products. They continue to differentiate with new business offerings – like groceries, especially now that they’ve acquired Whole Foods. But they’ve got to keep an eye on sentiment given that loyal Whole Foods customers don’t appreciate being locked out of Amazon Prime member deals unless they subscribe. There’s also concern about the working conditions of their seafood workers.

Oxfam tweet criticizing Amazon

It doesn’t take much to derail a brand on social media, so social monitoring is essential.

Predicted Trends in the Consumer Products Industry

Social monitoring also alerts you to emerging trends you may want to leverage – particularly in the short-term.

As for the long-term, McKinsey offers some insights on changes to the global landscape over the next 15 years:

consumer goods trend chart

There’s even more trend information in the full report. What’s crucial is using social analytics tools to spot the trends that matter to your brand, so you don’t miss any opportunities. And to perform routine social media audits to see if there are patterns you can use as you conceive ongoing brand strategy.

Optimize Influence for Success

There’s safety in numbers, so moving forward it will be smart for CPG brands to partner up where it makes sense. This could mean partnering with active social influencers – both celebrity and non – and amplifying brand awareness through an army of non-brand voices.

Or it could mean pairing with another brand for a limited edition product – like CoverGirl and Lucasfilm, or GoPro and Red Bull.

Star Wars themed Cover Girl makeup Instagram post

But it could also mean acquiring – or being acquired by – another brand. Both situations have benefits to the brands coming together – especially if your audience loves you both. This is where competitive analysis comes into play.

Spot an insurgent brand consumers have fallen in love with and invite them into the fold instead of competing with them. Or if you’re the insurgent brand, research brand love for a global brand whose resources you’d love to have and start negotiations.

This is what social intelligence is all about – and it’s not just for CPG brands.

But CPG brands are the focus of our latest report, and there’s much more in store when you download the whole thing. For instance, how do you measure your efforts, so you know you’re spending money in the right places? What analytics should you look to, and which tools are best for the job?

We want to leave some surprises, but they’re worth reading about – no matter what industry you’re in.

So download the complete NetBase 2018 Social Intelligence Report: Consumer Products today, and reach out if you want a tour of our suite of tools!

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