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Is your Company really getting “Closer to Consumers”?

Some of the most frequently overused phrases within the Global FMCG industry include, we are “getting closer to consumers” “understanding them more deeply” and “walking in their shoes”.

These warm phrases will often appear on the corporate pages of the manufacturers themselves and sometimes get printed on the business cards of employees.

You will also often hear senior marketeers talking about how fundamental this consumer closeness is to their company’s success. To reinforce the importance, this will often result in “consumer closeness” appearing as one of the KPIs of the insights teams.

It’s a logical goal.

If you start to see the World through your consumers’ eyes it is a reasonable assumption you will start to uncover new insights about them and what makes them tick. This knowledge is unquestionably the source of identifying opportunities to delight them and to speak to them in more effective ways, but and its a big but..

Talking about consumer closeness is very different to actually being close to consumers.

The reality facing Global insights teams charged with delivering this organisation wide consumer closeness looks a little different from the stated goals.

Budget pressures and travel bans are commonplace and yet the Geographical Regions of responsibility are getting bigger and bigger. Even for those fortunate enough to be able to visit their markets of responsibility, connecting the team members in other parts of the World with what they observe during in-home visits, remains an ongoing challenge.

A few clues about how close to consumers your organisation really is.

How many people in the organisation have seen where your Global consumers purchase, open, use and store your products and how they feel about them?

How many of the team have the opportunity to watch how their new product and packaging performs in consumer’s eyes in the natural environment of use before it is released into the market place?

If you have a Global innovation that is going to be rolled out into multiple markets, how often do you get to observe the authentic reaction of consumers in the local market place, before deciding on the local sales targets and communication strategy?

How often do you conduct post launch reviews so that as a company you start to learn what works and what does not work but through a consumer lens not a marketing one?

We work with the mavericks within the Global FMCG organisations who are making consumer closeness a reality.

Getting the organisation closer to consumers at a time when pressures on costs are at an all time high is no easy task.

The people that are turning consumer closeness into a reality are fronting up to these challenges and backing their own instincts. They really believe that getting closer to consumers and shoppers will provide them with a competitive advantage.

They are pushing back on the status quo and are challenging the organisation to develop the systems, process and budgets that are needed to turn the slogans into a reality.

Amongst other things, they are developing Global searchable assets that allow anyone in the entire organisation to observe their target consumer or shopper in any Country, in the natural environment of consumption.

How they shop, how they eat, how they wash up, how they share and how they feel about the World in general and how their lives are changing.

It may not say it on their business card, but these are the people who are really getting their organisation closer to consumers.