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Smart Insights: Consumer Goods

The number of touchpoints between brands and consumers is increasing at an unprecedented rate. Consumers are seeking richer retail experiences, rather than simply acquiring new products. There is also an intense competition for loyalty.

To be successful, consumer goods (FMCG, domestic appliances, home and living) companies need a comprehensive understanding of what is driving consumer choices and experiences at every touchpoint.

GfK's consumer goods research and insights illuminate the trends behind today's market realities and tomorrow's consumer demands.

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    • 07/25/17
    • Health
    • Travel and Hospitality
    • Consumer Goods
    • Global
    • English

    How brands can appeal to pet parents

    With several family members on the move this spring, my husband and I found ourselves temporary caretakers for a series of pets including our niece’s cat. She was a sweet houseguest, although our own two cats didn’t think so. Fortunately, we are empty nesters with enough space that our feline lodger had her own two-room suite. Talk about being pampered! We are long-time devoted pet owners ourselves, so I wasn’t surprised at the amount of equipment, toys and other accoutrements that my niece dropped off with her “only child.” I was, however, slightly bemused by the tube of Freshpet refrigerated food she brought in a cooler. As a health-focused Millennial, she is a prime target for these products. I dutifully purchased refills during our guest’s stay, but didn’t become a convert. On the other hand, I was inspired to purchase a vertical scratching post for our cats. Our experience is a microcosm of several trends we’ve seen emerging in the pet market as a whole as GfK’s Point-of-Sale (POS) data reports show. Pet owners are focused on dietary health and trying new things. They don’t sit around the house all the time, either.

    Dogs versus cats

    Just over half of global consumers, 54 percent, are pet owners, according to the recently released GfK Consumer Life global study. One in three has dogs and about one in four has cats, while nearly 20 percent have fish, birds or other animals. There is overlap, of course. Almost half of cat owners also have dogs, and about one in three dog owners also have cats. Of the 21 countries covered in the study, pets are most popular in Latin America: Argentina, Mexico and Brazil, and dogs are by far the pet of choice. The only places where more people have cats than dogs are France, Germany, Indonesia, Russia and Sweden, although Russia is the only country where cat owners attain majority status, at 58 percent.

    Pets at home, on the road, and on the town

    Pet owners of the world are a mix of home-based and outgoing, finds the GfK global study. They are more likely than average to do yard work and home improvements on a regular basis, but are also more likely to go out for entertainment and to travel. This means that pet owners’ homes and yards need to be pet-friendly, whether they are home owners or renters. Growing numbers of apartment complexes are offering dog parks and dog-washing stations, for example. People don’t always want to leave their pet companions at home, though. The lodging industry is becoming more receptive to travelers with pets; resources like petwelcome.com can help locate them. But there are opportunities for all kinds of businesses to get involved, such as excursions and car rental agencies. Everyday destinations should think about accommodating pets, too. Stores with sidewalk access sometimes put out the welcome mat by offering water bowls and treats for dogs who are out and about with their human family members. Pet stores routinely allow pets, of course, and most places allow service dogs. But given the reports of heat-related deaths of pets left in cars every year, maybe more retailers should be pet-friendly. This doesn’t have to mean letting animals roam free; there are such things as pet strollers and places to safely park pets outside stores. Some large stores offer child-care services – why not a pet-sitting service?

    Healthy families include pets

    Global pet owners are more inclined than their peers to follow a specific diet for their health and to say that “local” is an important factor in their food and beverage choices. Furthermore, GfK Consumer Life research reveals that American pet owners are more likely than average to have used a meal-kit delivery service such as Blue Apron in the past month. Pets are often considered family members, so it follows that their owners will extend the attitudes they hold about their own health and food habits to their animal companions. This has certainly been evident in the rising sales of pet foods that are free of certain ingredients and have few ingredients, according to the ongoing GfK pet-food POS study. Maybe locally produced pet products and meal-kit services will appeal, too.

    Innovations welcome

    Pet owners are more likely than average to agree that they are always “on the lookout for new products and services” and “looking for novelty and fun, even in everyday products.” They are also more interested in other people’s opinions about what to buy and tend to discuss products and brands on social media more often. This means that the pet market is one that is open to innovation and sharing information. Even if you’re not in the pet industry per se, there is almost certainly a way for you to be involved with these important members of the family. Diane Crispell is a Senior Consultant on the Consumer Life team at GfK. She can be reached at diane.crispell@gfk.com.
    • 07/24/17
    • Retail
    • Consumer Goods
    • Global
    • English

    5 takeaways from our consumer study on Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods

    *This blog post was co-authored by Wendy Wallner and Stephanie Scalice Just last month, Amazon announced its acquisition of Whole Foods Market for a whopping $13.4 billion.  As the various hot takes rolled in, we looked to US consumers for their reactions, conducting a survey of 1,000 US adults a week after the announcement.  We learned how many people currently shop with both retailers, what kinds of changes they expect from each company, and what they would and wouldn’t like to see in the future as shoppers. Here are five key takeaways from the study.

    Consumer reaction was mostly positive

    While shoppers are still not certain what the Amazon/Whole Foods merger means for them, the reaction among consumers ranged mostly from positive to neutral.  Of the thousand people surveyed, 23% had a positive reaction, while 38% of Whole Foods shoppers found the news to be positive, followed by 31% of Amazon shoppers (and 43% of both Whole Foods and Amazon shoppers).  Only 10% of consumers found the news to be negative. Optimistic shoppers hope that grocery prices will drop and that delivery fees will be waived for Amazon Prime members.  They would also like to see Amazon start to carry Whole Foods products online — and on the flip-side, see Whole Foods stores use new technology that will make in-store shopping more efficient. One of the bigger barriers to online grocery shopping is the fear that the quality and freshness of products are not as good as what is purchased in a physical store.  As a result, consumers are hesitant to trust the quality when someone else is selecting items for them.  This study shows the Whole Foods connection would give shoppers more confidence in ordering fresh products online.

    Whole Foods shoppers express fear about changes

    Whole Foods shoppers, who typically care more than the average consumer about their communities and causes that align with their own, expressed some concerns over the Amazon acquisition.  Specifically, they hope that their local Whole Foods store will remain open, and that employees will not be laid off or their morale affected.  They do not want their shopping experience to change nor do they want the look and feel of Whole Foods outlets to change.

    There is an existing relationship between Amazon and Whole Foods shoppers

    The study confirms that Amazon and Whole Foods are a good fit.  According to the study, three out of four Whole Foods shoppers have made at least one purchase through Amazon in the past month; and there is also a higher percentage of Amazon Prime memberships among Whole Foods customers (50%) than total US consumers (37%).  Additionally, Whole Foods shoppers are more likely to buy groceries online (26% of all online grocery shoppers also shop at Whole Foods) than the average consumer [22% of US consumers shopped WFM in the past month) .

    Interest in omni-channel grocery shopping

    Although grocery eCommerce is currently a small market, the Amazon/Whole Foods alliance allows consumers to anticipate a future of omni-channel grocery shopping.  While consumers aren’t yet willing to fully commit to purchasing Whole Foods products online (only 9% of US shoppers indicated they would be “extremely/very likely” to sign up for an online grocery and/or meal delivery service through Amazon and Whole Foods), there is some latent interest (22% of all consumers were “somewhat likely”). Another potential benefit to Amazon is Whole Foods’ strong equity in prepared foods.  Not only will they be able to deliver groceries, they’ll be able to deliver meals too, as well as offering omni-channel services like click-and-collect, covering all aspects of food eCommerce.

    Increased customer loyalty?

    An Amazon/Whole Foods deal makes sense and points to some incremental growth for each brand, with a portion of current shoppers indicating that they expect to shop more at both retailers.  But it’s more likely that most will wait and see.  In fact, the study shows that Amazon Prime members, whose shopping habits demonstrate that they aren’t as loyal as one would think, have surprisingly low interest in the merger and its possible outcomes for themThe reason? They are heavy shoppers of all channels and want to keep options open. Their biggest concerns surround their hope that Whole Foods stores remain open and the local business are not impacted by the merger. The main goal for any grocery retailer right now should be stronger loyalty from customers; many shoppers forego the convenience of buying all their groceries in one place to instead pick and choose where they shop depending on what each retailer is good at.  They have different lists for different stores, buying groceries at five different retailers each month (on average).  Will the convenience that Amazon and Whole Foods are able to offer bring back one-stop shopping and increase customer loyalty?  It depends on who you ask, but ultimately it will depend on what kind of offerings and benefits are clearly established to consumers beyond pure convenience. To share your thoughts, leave a comment below or email wendy.wallner@gfk.com or stephanie.scalice@gfk.com.
    • 07/13/17
    • Consumer Goods
    • Connected Consumer
    • Global
    • English

    Conquering Connected Shoppers: Maximize Omnichannel Opportunities

    Check out how we can provide you with insights into effective consumer-centric omnichannel strategies that help you conquer connected shoppers in the digital world – and beyond.
    • 07/06/17
    • Consumer Goods
    • Global
    • English

    Strong momentum for built-in major domestic appliances an opportunity for brands

    Built-in major domestic appliances (MDAs) like built-in hobs, cookers/stoves, dish washers, freezers, microwaves, tumble dryers and washing machines were the pacemaker in global sales growth in the market in 2016. Taking almost $1 of every $4 spent, sales of built-in MDAs increased 3.6%. Without the contribution of built-in, the global MDA market would not have grown at all in 2016. And we see continued momentum for built-in in 2017. What is making the built-in market so attractive? Compared to freestanding products, built-in often trades at a substantial premium. Built-in refrigerators, for example, can retail at $764 as a global average, some 50% more than a freestanding refrigerator. Built-in dishwashers are selling at a 20% premium, compared to their freestanding counterparts. Built-in MDAs are a compelling business opportunity that manufacturers won’t want to miss.

    Europe is still the key market

    The key market is Western Europe, where built-in appliances enjoy 39% share of sales value. The countries in which built-in is most popular are Germany and The Netherlands (see table below). Central East Europe is now picking up, with Poland taking the lead, showing double-digit annual value growth rates. Outside Europe, built-in MDAs enjoy their highest share in China, followed by Australia and the US. While European, US and Australian built-in markets are already highly developed, China still focuses mainly on hobs and hoods. Apart from China, Turkey is one of the most dynamic geographic markets for built-in products. In Latin America, where built-in is still comparatively underdeveloped, Columbia is the star. The momentum of built-in has continued and a highlight of the first quarter of 2017 is the clear strength of Turkey. Built-in share value of overall MDA sales (January – April 2017) [1] In value (local currency)
    [2] Source: MDA World Market Estimation (forecast 2017)

    Growth in Europe is due to technology and economy

    Built-in appliances are benefiting from high consumer spending in the face of historically low interest rates. In this environment, premium segments currently gain significant momentum. Forces driving the market include demand for a healthier lifestyle. One example is cooking with steam. Consumer demand for convenience and time-saving has led to a strong performance of pyrolytic ovens and induction hobs. New form-factors like hobs with integrated hoods are also driving the market. Other growth factors are energy efficiency and environmental motivations such as the ability to cut down on the use of water or electricity. Today’s Connected Consumer is also looking for smart built-in products such as hoods that communicate with the cooker to ensure optimal power use. Market size and growth of key built-in markets in West Europe3 (January – April 2017) [3] Source: GfK Point of Sales, data for 14 countries in Western Europe

    Middle-class demand drives Chinese built-in market

    And outside Europe? The main factor is the rising middle class – especially in China. In this market, affluent urban tastes mean the consumer trend is for a kitchen finish in the contemporary Western style. We expect the excitement around built-in appliances to continue and look forward to seeing the growth figures for all of 2017. hbspt.cta.load(2405078, '5fa7fc28-73c4-4888-86ab-1581f16b365d', {});
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