The mass market sector is undergoing a major transformation directly linked to digital and social shifts in the world. The stakeholders of the industry are all looking for offers that will make the difference and digital media is at the core of these new changes. In order to reach the right target with the right message at the right time, it is essential to know your consumers and meet their ever-changing expectations. In addition, the new products, technology and innovations that are emerging today, are altering the business models of mass distribution. Read on to find out what the biggest digital trends are and how they are impacting mass consumption.
The digital innovations that are bringing the mass market and consumer goods sector into a new include:
Robotics at the service of shelf management: Global supermarket brands such as Géant Casino de Pessac and Auchan in Portugal, are testing the effiency of robots that enable retailers to delegate more repetitive tasks so as to relieve staff and increase profitability. These robots are used to scan shelves, detect stock shortages, check price-product consistency and even help unloading trucks.
Artificial intelligence for customer care: AI enables companies to make precise recommendations to consumers based on their purchase history, to make sales forecasts, to manage stocks, and to identify conversations on their customers’ social networks to offer services and products that meet their needs.
“Intelligent” shopping carts: These are equipped with a touch screen, a camera, and a barcode reader. They act as automatic cash registers. To use them, you must first create an account on the store application. Monoprix for example have already started using them. Indeed, the company hopes to develop and expand its use of “intelligent” shopping carts in the coming months of 2021.
Augmented reality labels: Today certain retailers offer their customers the option of paying for their shopping via their smartphone, others have already gone beyond this stage through the use of augmented reality, a technology that makes it possible to broadcast an image superimposed on what we see. The idea of animated labels, used especially for products such as drinks and wines, is aimed to appeal to the younger generations, offering them a different type of shopping experience. With AR labels, once the user has filled in his consumption preferences (vegan, allergies, etc.), a pictogram appears on the screen as soon as they point their camera at a product. The consumer is warned through a red cross if it contains allergens, for example.
Drones, the future of home delivery: Technological developments have changed the methods used by brands to deliver consumer goods to us. Autonomous vehicles such as robots and delivery drones can now provide logistics services; and improve the overall delivery experience. Indeed, Amazon is the pioneer of this new delivery method. Uber plans to create an independent subsidiary dedicated to delivery robots: After acquiring Postmates, Uber plans to transform the start-up into a separate company called Serve Robotics, which specializes in the manufacture of delivery robots.
Self-service ordering systems: This is another innovation that meets the need for convenience and speed. It will reduce queues and offer many advantages, especially for quick-service and fast-food restaurants: customers can place their own orders via touch screens. It should be noted that the global market for self-service order kiosks is expected to reach $45.7 billion by 2026.
Not So Dark is raising 20 million euros to deploy its Dark Kitchen in Europe: The principle is to bring together within a single ghost kitchen several food brands that home delivery platforms can then offer on their application.
Vertical Farming Technology: This focuses on providing software that allows others to practice vertical farming. By targeting food processing companies or consumer giants, the Finnish start-up offers its software to automates crop care for plants such as green salads, cherry tomatoes, and berries.
Stand-alone stores or “boxes” are set to expand: These self-contained, automated stores, that is just a few square meters big, they are a kind of giant self-service vending machine. With a simplified customer path, the customer enters the box, identifies themselves, selects their items, and leaves. Monoprix and Auchan are the first to have initiated this concept in France. The boxes will be installed around the main cities in the coming months.
Live Retail, the beginning of a digitalized relationship between the salesperson and the customer: It’s a trend that has been in place since the first lockdown. Live Retail allows brands to interact directly with consumers. In the form of a one-to-one relationship, the salesperson hosts a mini-conference online to discuss a product and answer customer questions. This aims to strengthen the link with customers, to maintain a personalized relationship and to build customer loyalty.
Digital and socio-economic changes that are shifting consumer behavior:
Bulk sales are becoming a trend: Kellogg’s, L’Occitane, Heineken, Auchan, and many others are experimenting with this trend to demonstrate eco-responsibility (zero waste, zero packaging, zero plastic). With this offer, these brands are aiming to meet the new expectations of consumers which includes buying the quantity they really need and limiting packaging.
Direct-to-consumer: With Covid-19, the home delivery services offered by supermarkets became a convenient option that has created a new consumption habit. This is an opportunity for retailers to understand that food, like any other sector, will eventually become entirely digital. By selling their products directly to the end consumer, the big names in the industry can collect valuable data about their customers’ journey.
Click & collect stores: Shops are no longer a point of sale for shopping, but rather a collection point for orders. Kroger is one of the brands supporting this new approach with the launch of its first store. Starbucks has also expressed its willingness to make all of its coffees take-out only to make shopping quick and easy. For this reason, retail brands are likely to place collection points in the form of lockers in strategic locations such as offices, gyms, etc.
The Eco-Score, a new environmental impact indicator: The key food industry players including Yuka, Marmiton, and Open Food Facts are launching a new indicator, the “Eco-Score”, aimed at informing and raising consumer awareness of the environmental impact of food products. This should encourage brands to be increasingly transparent and to make strategic decisions based on the Eco-Score (materials used for packaging, recyclability, the origin of ingredients, production methods, impacts on biodiversity, etc.).
Coca-Cola is testing a paper bottle: Coca-Cola and Paboco scientists have developed a bottle with a paper exterior. It will soon be tested in Hungary.
KitKat is going vegan: The Nestlé group, a world leader in the food industry, is preparing to launch in 2021, a vegan KitKat: KitKat V (certified vegan and made from 100% sustainable cocoa from the Nestlé Cocoa Plan). Organic and veganism are trends that are accelerating, which is why brands must intelligently expand their offer to satisfy as many consumers as possible.
The end of plastic trays in butcher’s and fish shops at Auchan: New trays made of vegetable fibers and 100% compostable at home will be available at the retailer, a pioneer in the implementation of this innovation.
Unilever’s with its flagship brands Skip and Persil, will launch laundry detergents to be diluted: This method will reduce the carbon footprint of the products and the use of plastic.
Decathlon and Auchan opt for shop-in-shop: They will transform their combined retail space into places that offer a unique shopping experience, Auchan is working with Decathlon to help customers carry out their everyday shopping while offering sports products as well in one place. Current sales spaces are being redesigned to provide the best possible customer experience.
E. LECLERC eliminates unnecessary plastic: In their fruit and vegetable section with 400 tons of plastic eliminated since 2019, E. Leclerc offers since December 2020 in the Mon Panier du Primeur range, about twenty references of citrus fruits packed in a zero plastic and recyclable packaging, made of paper and bamboo fiber.
ReTuna, a shopping center in Sweden is entirely dedicated to second-hand items: Product recycling takes on another dimension with this launch dedicated solely to second-hand items (computer hardware, books, toys, furniture, etc.).
The rental boom: Already widely developed in stores in recent years, brands will have to make new efforts to meet this increasingly popular consumer demand. Rental will also be one of the possible responses to the decline in purchasing power linked to the pandemic.
Ferrero is conquering the breakfast market: With “Kinder Cereal” aimed at young adults in a hurry, this new product, considered a breakthrough innovation, aims to attract an older audience by offering them gourmet, easy-to-carry breakfast cookies.
In the light of these changes, the retail and consumer goods sector has metamorphosed to meet not only new consumer demands but also to maintain a competitive advantage. Reinventing themselves, launching new services, communicating to be visible online to their potential customers are the first steps of a definite renewal. Brands are trying to digitize, robotize or even automate their restaurants.
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