For the consumer products industry, technology offers an array of new opportunities to reach, serve, and engage consumers directly. Marketers now have the ability to interact with customers on a one-to-one level, expanding commerce potential and ensuring consistent brand experiences across both physical and virtual channels. But, while said companies continue to pursue omnichannel excellence in an effort to satisfy consumer demand, most have yet to meet business needs via this multichannel approach to sales.
According to SAP's recent "The Race for Omnichannel Excellence" report, consumer product brands are, on average, three years away from achieving their overall omnichannel goals. Conducted in partnership with Loudhouse, researchers surveyed 839 global marketing decision-makers from consumer product organizations to gauge the extent to which omnichannel data has created business value, as well as the challenges that come along with increased customer intimacy.
The following statistics underline how consumer product brands currently operate and which strategies will garner the most attention and care throughout the coming years:
- Though companies have access to an array of customer aspects, such as transactional data, social interactions, and consumer profiles, 72 percent agree that their businesses struggle to transform omnichannel data into tangible, actionable business assets.
- Thirty-eight percent of respondents say their omnichannel sales approaches are integrated "to an extent," while only 16 percent claim that their company currently meets all business and analysis needs for consumer experience via omnichannel.
- Eighty-six percent of respondents agree that omnichannel has increased the average consumer's brand expectations, and 86 percent believe that the benefits of investing in an omnichannel sales strategy outweigh the challenges.
- Of those companies that have implemented an omnichannel sales strategy, most claim that their organization has experienced increased sales (74 percent), improved loyalty and acquisition (64 percent), competitive advantage (62 percent), and better customer experience (57 percent).
- When asked to prioritize the focus of their organization-promotion, optimization, innovation, or forecasting-42 percent of consumer product companies agreed that innovation would be their brand's primary concentration over the next 12 months.
- Over the next two years, respondents believe the main competitive differentiators will be quality of consumer experience (66 percent), integration of channels or omnichannel excellence (60 percent), and consumer data and corresponding analytics (58 percent). Only half (51 percent) believe the number of channels will carry any advantage.
Key takeaway: Though consumer expectations will continue to drive omnichannel strategy development, brands hope that collecting and analyzing such data will also enable them to nurture customer intimacy and improve service response times. Ultimately, it's not the number of operative channels, but the ability to derive meaning and instigate change that truly adds value to the evolving consumer experience. When building closer, stronger customer relationships, consumer product companies must apply insights to the business in order to express increased customer centricity and gain the competitive advantage. Complex individuals require in-depth understanding. Thus, customer intimacy relies upon the willingness to learn and adapt according to consumer behavior, as brands must implement flexible strategies that allow their approaches to evolve and grow alongside customer demand.