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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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    • 07/24/17
    • 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', {});
    • 07/05/17
    • Retail
    • Consumer Goods
    • Connected Consumer
    • Global
    • English

    Conquering the Connected Shopper and their multiple paths to purchase

    Conquering today’s connected shopper is a battle. Consumers’ expectations of convenience, choice, price and experience are continually escalating. Whatever you make or sell, the true power rests in the palm of shoppers’ hands. The “always-on” culture of connectivity puts both manufacturers and retailers under intense pressure to stay relevant and create “fans for life”. This is a cut-throat, slim profit environment that is further endangered by emerging hyper-competition from global marketplaces. Conversion is more key than ever. No retailer or manufacturer has a free pass to success. No existing business models are guaranteed. For instance, in the recent past, the generalists and the manufacturers that supplied them were all-powerful. Today, specialists and global market places like Amazon are squeezing the generalist model. Clearly, whatever the sector, whatever the scale or geography, all players must constantly re-evaluate their strategies and tactics to ensure they win the connected shopper’s business. It is essential to constantly be on top of your shopper by focusing on the right touchpoints at the right moment throughout the whole omnichannel path to purchase. So, if you’re serious about conquering the connected shopper, you must understand today’s retail environment and anticipate tomorrow’s trends to plan and prepare for the future.

    The connected retail transformation: Two very different routes to purchase

    Retail is transforming to keep pace with the connected shopper and their demands. We believe that in the future, shopping will either be functional, rational and efficient, or it will need to offer an emotional connection or be an experience. Our two future scenarios for retail in the connected world are rooted in our extensive knowledge gained from researching consumers. What is common to them all is that the shopper is front and center, and has more control than ever before of how they shop and what they buy.

    One: Staying in

    Here the smart home of the future takes over the functional aspects of shopping, ordering and replenishing supplies as they run out. Never fear, this won’t disengage shoppers from brands, as virtual and augmented reality will come to the rescue. For fun, connected shoppers will be able to try on clothes, trial appliances and test drive cars – all from the comfort of their home.

    Two: Going out

    If you leave the comfort of your home to shop, there will be two very different options. On the one hand, much shopping will become uber-convenient, super-fast and easy with in-store GPS navigation, pick up points, automated payments (no queues) and minimal browsing. Mobile phones will have a key role to play, becoming hand-held shopping trip assistants. On the other, retailers will offer experiences, where shopping will be seamlessly integrated into socializing and entertainment. The smartphone will be the connector of the personalized digital and physical retail world, for chatting, browsing, sharing experiences and paying. Whether shopping from the home or when out and about, manufacturers will increasingly focus on their own omnichannel retail concepts. They will want to get closer to their shoppers and find personalization-driven business models where this can deliver a profit.

    Getting up close and personal with the connected shopper

    There is no one “connected shopper”, every consumer and every purchase is unique. For a 360° perspective, you need to evaluate the key target audience segments in detail. How do they behave, what are their need states, how can you meet their expectations? From Gen X, Y and Z to iBrains, Millennials and Baby Boomers, we’ll help you identify and reach your audience with the relevant product, service and experience at the right point in their purchase journey. With more consumers than ever saying they feel overwhelmed by choice, understanding and helping shoppers find the products they really want will become a core tenet of the successful retailer. Relevance and persuasion will become more important as key success factors. As a result, many retail marketing budgets are shifting to content and attribution marketing to be closer to the shopper during the moments that matter. The focus will be less on where the purchase happens, and much more on how you can influence it. Having an in-depth customer understanding is essential if you are to offer shoppers the all-important personalized product or service, such as H&M’s customized dress designed with Google. And it’s most definitely key if you want to anticipate their needs to increase their basket size and grow loyalty.

    Reinventing business models

    Achieving a profit requires a laser-like focus on logistics and operations, constant innovation, relevant marketing, perfect customer service, excellent customer and market intelligence… the list is infinite. By focusing on the connected shopper and building a true picture of buyers of all sorts of products and services, you can identify the business models that give you the best chance of success in the retail transformation. Marco Wolters is Global Industry Lead Fashion, Home & Lifestyle at GfK. He can be reached at Marco.Wolters@gfk.com. hbspt.cta.load(2405078, 'a7c49c12-21d2-41fc-a305-57b021074f75', {});
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