CPG Marketing Tactics and Industry Trends to Watch Out For in 2021

Consumer packaged goods, which includes everything from laundry detergent to snack bars and pet food, have long occupied a tricky area in the eCommerce world. However, last year, eCommerce sales across the CPG industry skyrocketed – even in verticals that aren’t typically sold online. Consumer behaviour has completely changed over the last year and brands have introduced innovations that were unimaginable just a couple of years ago.

To help you adjust to this period of intense change, ChannelSight has pulled together some of the key CPG eCommerce trends and tactics that you need to know about in 2021.

CPG Industry Trends for 2021

The consumer packaged goods industry has evolved rapidly to meet changing customer demands. Technology has infiltrated many aspects of life, especially how consumer packaged goods are being bought and sold online. Tech such as chatbots are creating a streamlined consumer journey and AI is helping marketers to create highly personalized experiences. 

Here are some of the most noteworthy trends for CPG brands to watch out for in 2021.

The rising importance of eCommerce for CPG brands

CPG brands saw strong growth in traffic last year as almost all retail moved online. According to ChannelSight’s data, Q2 was the strongest performing quarter with health and hygiene products showing the strongest growth, while overall eCommerce grew by 30% YoY. Check out our eCommerce intelligence report to see exactly how the eCommerce landscape has changed over the last year. 

Throughout 2020, this growth coincided directly with lockdown measures as consumers were forced to shop online. Post-pandemic, online performance is very likely to remain strong thanks to increased familiarity among online shoppers. In China, the outbreak of SARS led to permanent changes in consumer behaviour. Covid-19 is expected to do the same.

Increase in CPG online sales during COVID-19
ChannelSight Data shows the YoY increase in basket generations and revenue for CPG and Health and Hygiene.

Increased basket quantities

Based on the data above, we extrapolate that consumers are shopping more online, with more basket generations taking place for CPG and Health and Hygiene products. Moving forward, we expect this trend to continue as CPG brands roll out thoughtful product bundles, loyalty programmes and cross-selling campaigns.

Certain products will see continued growth in 2021

With shoppers staying at home, their priorities have changed significantly. Here are some categories within the CPG industry that will see continued growth this year:

●      Self-care: Cosmetics sales are down, but body care products are gaining traction. In December, Google searches for ‘self-care’ were 550% higher than the year before. As a result, products like bath salts, supplements and foot care are in-demand.

●      Plant-based products: Meat alternatives continue to increase their market share. By 2024, the industry is forecasted to reach $480 billion. This year consumers will be looking for sustainable, high protein and immune-boosting options.

●      Personalised items: As technology improves, it is easier, quicker and less expensive for brands to customize their products. M&M’s and Coca Cola led the way in the CPG industry. Now, the likes of L’Oreal and Clinique have launched custom skin care and hair colour lines. More CPG brands are likely to follow.

Demand for fulfillment flexibility will remain

According to a study from Deloitte, over 50% of consumers spent extra money to conveniently get what they needed last year. Among other things, they paid more for on-demand fulfillment and convenient pick up options.

Retailers and customer-centric D2C brands have managed to compete with Amazon by offering these kinds of services. As consumer expectations are unlikely to change, businesses offering these services will be well placed to reap the benefits in the coming year too.

Some CPG brands also partner with retailers or third-party services to offer BOPIS. Due to COVID-19 and the various levels of lockdowns across the world, this may be a challenge currently. However, ‘Buy Online Pick Up In Store’ can be very beneficial for brands once stores reopen.

Mobile devices are driving CPG conversions

Last year, most CPG conversions took place on mobile devices, with re-ordering proving particularly common. But, when CPG orders do take place on desktop, they tend to have a higher value.

Knowing this allows brands to plan their CPG marketing accordingly. You should focusing on promoting premium products on desktop devices and retarget past customers with replenishment reminders on mobile, along with lower priced items.

Top CPG Marketing Tactics in 2021

With these trends in mind, here are some of the best CPG marketing tactics that brands can use in the coming year.

1.  Maximize product reviews

According to a study by GE Capital, more than 80% of people research online before buying in a physical store, underscoring how important the power of reviews can be. Many consumers are using online channels to search for product reviews. Retailer sites like Amazon make it easy to compare one CPG product from another.

For some of the most successful brands product, reviews and product ratings play key roles in their sales strategy. For example, San Francisco Bay Coffee was the second best-selling grocery brand at Amazon between Jan-May 2016 with a staggering 23,696 reviews on average.

Successful brands have many product reviews
San Francisco Bay has over 19,000 reviews on Amazon

2. Focus on converting website users

The traffic received on website product pages is normally very engaged, and it’s highly likely that purchase intent is high among these users. Having a comprehensive website with clear imagery and site hierarchy is essential for eCommerce stores to succeed, but taking this one step further and linking brand websites with trusted retailers is essential for brands in the CPG market to provide a seamless consumer path to purchase.

This can be achieved with the use of a Where to Buy solution. Smart home business Tado, implemented Where to Buy software, enabling users on their website to click to their chosen retail and saw a significant boost to their online conversion. Check out the case study here.

3. Create an omnichannel strategy

To win the digital shelf, CPG brands need to make their products available across a variety of sales channels. Think popular marketplaces, retailer sites and their own D2C sites.

Retailer sites can drive large volumes of sales, but D2C stores allow brands to build customer loyalty and collect in-house data on consumer behaviour. For this reason, some of the most successful companies in the CPG industry are taking advantage of both.

The likes of Dove, L’Oréal, Colgate, Coca Cola and Pepsi all use omnichannel strategies to reach customers on every channel.

CPG brands have found creative ways to make their stores unique. Coca Cola offers exclusive personalised bottles and apparel. L’Oréal allows shoppers to virtually try on their products. Pepsico has even launched two D2C websites which sell food and drink bundles. The modern consumer journey is complex, rather than linear. So CPG brands can nurture conversions by allowing shoppers to conveniently make a purchase on their favourite platform.

4. Take advantage of retail media

It’s always important to stay up-to-date with emerging marketing platforms. But, for CPG brands who want to drive online sales, it is essential they take advantage of retail media advertising.

Retail media allows brands to advertise their products to consumers as they shop. This makes it easier for them to convert.

With so many retailers offering loyalty programmes, these ads can also be carefully targeted and personalised. This makes them a game changer for marketers in the CPG industry.

Right now, the likes of Amazon, eBay, Walmart and Asda all offer retail media opportunities. But more and more platforms are following their lead, so check all your retail channels.

5. Leverage social media and invest in content marketing

To see CPG marketing success this year, brands need to replicate the in-store experience online. The best way to do this is with robust content.

In addition, companies in the CPG industry often have large portfolios, so they should focus on creating a strong digital presence for a few key products. This will help build brand recognition. Then, to maximize sales, companies can add cross-selling and upselling to their CPG marketing strategies.

As mentioned, the growth of sales on brands’ own websites was one of last year’s key CPG eCommerce trends. As part of this new behaviour, shoppers are looking for signs of validation. Brands can reassure them by adding user-generated content, reviews and third-party accreditations to their websites.

6. Push product subscriptions

On D2C channels, brands in the CPG industry have the unique opportunity to increase customer retention with subscriptions.

P&G’s Native deodorant offers a 17% discount if shoppers sign up for delivery every three months, while Gillette lets customers select their own frequency and gives away every fourth order for free.

Amazon’s ‘Subscribe & Save’ feature also allows CPG brands to secure a year’s worth of sales with just one click. Brands can use this alongside their retail media ads to supercharge their CPG marketing strategies.

When creating ads, remember that most repeat purchases are taking place on mobile devices.

7. Make voice search part of your CPG marketing

Now that consumers are comfortable making purchases via mobile, they may soon turn to voice assistants for convenience.

Buying consumer packaged goods doesn’t usually require much research so a quick voice search will often suffice. It is ideal for making repeat purchases too.

In 2021 voice search is becoming much more widespread. In the US, for example, the majority of households have a smart speaker. In Europe and the UK, this figure is around a third. A UK survey also suggests that 60% of smart speaker owners have used their devices to make a purchase.

CPG brands will be the first to benefit from a surge in voice searches and companies that implement relevant marketing strategies now will benefit in the years to come.

8. Strengthen retailer relationships

Thriving in the age of digital, CPG purchases will require that brands and retailers work together to harness consumer purchase intent. 

Low-cost CPG products are rarely ordered alone, due to their impulse nature and low value, it makes it essential to join forces with as many retailers as possible, to close the gap between online marketing and sales.

Peter Thomas Roth, a leading skincare brand, connects their consumers with their preferred retailers using ChannelSight’s Where to Buy Solution. This provides a seamless consumer experience that can also help reduce distractions and drive conversions.

Where to buy solution example
Peter Thomas Roth providing a seamless shopping experience through ChannelSight’s Where to Buy Solution

Why should brands drive consumers to retailers? Because consumers are quicker to add a low-risk impulse purchase to their shopping cart on a retailer site along with many other products rather than just buying one small item direct on a DTC store. Offering more choice of where to purchase ensures brands can convert those consumers who prefer to purchase your product elsewhere.

9. Take advantage of big data

Companies must constantly monitor their products performance, test new variations of product offerings and keep a close eye on competitor tactics.

Partnerships with retailers and with the use of a Where to buy solution, brands can uncover rich performance insights to be drawn right down to basket and product-level data. CPG marketers should constantly question if they’re using the right channels? Can they see an end to end view of their customer’s journey? Can they link brand interaction and a final sale? How are they adding value?

The future of the CPG industry

2020 was a pivotal year for the CPG industry and eCommerce in general. In the past, companies could get by without eCommerce. But now, they need to aggressively adapt online strategies and channels to stay relevant.

Moving forward, CPG marketing and product offerings will become more and more personalised as CPG brands begin to offer unique and convenient services to win over customers. As technology evolves, CPG marketing will also become more AI-centric. Beyond this, the CPG industry will continue to look to Amazon and Walmart for inspiration as they continue to set trends and lead the way in eCommerce innovation.

Final thoughts

eCommerce will play a vital role in the CPG industry for a long time to come. While market forces can quickly change future forecasts, it is clear that consumer confidence won’t fully return to the physical retail experience for a number of years.

To adjust, brands need to adapt new technology, strategies and partnerships – and they need to do it fast.

ChannelSight has a team of experts that can help you build a robust and data-driven eCommerce strategy to help increase your conversions. Contact us today to book a demo with our team of experts.