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Opinion and Insight
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5 Reasons Why Fast-moving Consumer Goods Brands Get Left on the Shelf

Southpaw, 3 months ago

Niki Macartney, Strategy Director at Southpaw, shares five common mistakes that can cause brands to fade in the keen eye of the savvy shopper

5 Reasons Why Fast-moving Consumer Goods Brands Get Left on the Shelf

If Coca-Cola’s exit from the top 10 most valuable global brands league table teaches us anything, it’s that even the biggest and boldest brands can fade in significance over time.

Demographic and cultural shifts are a natural part of the ebb and flow of consumer demand in FMCG. As traditional buyers grow older, and younger consumers come of age, sentiments change, values shift, and needs and wants evolve. To stay relevant, brands must work tirelessly to deliver a first-class customer experience that brings their image and values to life.

We recently polled 1,000 British shoppers to uncover the truth about consumers’ changing perceptions of leading grocery brands. The result? Some household names are in dire need of a turnaround in their fortunes, as consumers balk at the price of category leaders including Cadbury, Heinz and Coca-Cola.

Consider this: 14% of consumers no longer buy Cadbury products as frequently as they did five years ago, while 12% and 11% share the same view for Heinz and Coca-Cola respectively.

Here are five common mistakes that can cause brands to fade in the keen eye of the savvy shopper.

1. Lost Meaning and Purpose

Shoppers are always looking for reasons to believe and buy. When household brands lose meaning and purpose, sales suffer and consumers become disenchanted. The risk of a short-term focus on sales is that equity imbued in the product erodes. Certain brands outside of FMCG, such as Apple, do an exceptional job of storytelling to create enchanting experiences that consumers leap to be a part of. When brands start with ‘why’ consumers will foster an innate understanding of a brand’s higher purpose. This leads to a two-way conversation, enabling brands to create lifelong brand advocates.

2. Over-reliance on past success

Complacency is a killer. Just because something worked in the past does not mean it will work in the future. Far too often, brands rest on the laurels of their heritage. The most successful consumer goods brands continuously innovate while keeping one eye on today and the other on tomorrow.

Looking to other sectors like retail, it’s become clear that even those once dearly loved organisations aren’t safe. BHS and Woolworths are stark examples of this new truth.

3. Playing it Safe

Brands can fall into the perennial trap of marginal gains, settling for safe returns that – over time – can drain the lifeblood of a once healthy brand. Be brave and always look to innovate and challenge the accepted norm. If brands fail to do so, other bolder more forward-thinking companies will.

4. Fixating on one audience (too niche)

Segmentation can be a blessing and a curse. Brands can fall prey to a hyper-focus on one niche audience that neglects wider customer wants and needs. It’s important to wriggle out of the strait-jacket this creates to capitalise on wider opportunities.

Shreddies, for example, needed to move beyond targeting hungry schoolkids and their mums several years ago. By talking about the enjoyment of breakfast and relating the occasion and emotional connection through nans (rather than the product itself), the brand saw a marked increase in sales in previously stagnant demographics.

5. Ignoring 55+ audiences

The point above is particularly relevant when it comes to the burgeoning 55 and over age group. It’s the fastest-growing market and also has huge spending power. As these individuals become increasingly tech savvy, more and more are turning to third-party reviews and fellow consumer feedback to inform purchases. To resonate with this audience, it’s crucial to deliver the right media mix. Planning and creative must work cohesively to speak to people in the right place, on the right device at the right time.

There are myriad ways the shine can come off a brand. It’s vital to dust off the cobwebs on a regular basis or the problems may become too hard to fix.


Niki Macartney is Strategy Director at Southpaw