Winning CPG companies outperform peers in four key areas, report finds

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Consumer packaged goods companies that are "winning" in their categories outperform competitors in bold investment in growth areas; advanced use of analytics to fine-tune pricing and promotion; prioritization of retailer relationships; and commitment to talent development and strategic planning efforts.

A collaboration between the Grocery Manufacturers Association, Nielsen and McKinsey and Co., the 2012 customer and management channel survey, "Winning Where it Matters: A Focused Approach to Capturing Growth," found that CPG companies winning in their categories are three times more likely to invest in growth channels and the Hispanic market, 50% more likely to use pricing optimization tools, five times more likely to view retailer collaboration as a strategic priority, and invest twice as much time in talent development.

But as these winning CPG companies exhibited these strategies, various challenges lie ahead. For instance, this year's survey unveiled that many CPG companies had challenges striking the right balance in their assortment optimization efforts. Consumers tend to make more product and brand purchase decisions in store; therefore, shelf performance becomes an area where CPG companies can gain market share, GMA, Nielsen and McKinsey and Co. noted.

"Using advanced analytics to drive pricing, promotion and shelf management strategies is table stakes for CPG companies who expect to lead their categories," Nielsen EVP professional services Steve Matthesen said. "The report bears this out: companies using analytics as a strategic tool enjoy top-line growth and share-price improvement, while their peers grapple with a flat to declining market."

Additionally, the focus on the Hispanic market by CPG companies is becoming increasingly important. "Hispanic consumers are a key growth segment, with buying power increasing 50% through 2015," McKinsey and Co. consumer practice partner Kris Licht said. "CPG companies that win with Hispanics focused on tailored products and marketing, created better in-store experiences with retailers, and increased Hispanic-focused resources and capabilities."

Looking ahead, the survey highlights the increasing importance of sales technology, which encompasses traditional disciplines such as internal systems, the growing importance of data sharing with retail partners, and the high-growth area of shopper micro-targeting that includes smartphone applications, mobile couponing and other interactive marketing strategies. This discipline was new to the survey, the companies said, as not quite 25% of respondents reported activity in this area, but almost 80% reported plans to build this capability in the next two years.

Nearly 220 CPG executives from more than 50 companies participated in the 2012 survey. These companies represent many of the biggest brands in the food, beverage, personal/home care categories and almost $160 billion in U.S. sales.

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