Kantar Consulting’s annual Planning Conference took place earlier this month on June 13-14 in Boston, MA. Sara Altukhaim set the tone of the two-day event, titled “The New Guidelines for Retail Growth,” with a Dwight Eisenhower quote: “In preparing for battle…plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” This was a powerful thought-starter reflecting the current state of retail, in which, while impossible to predict and plan perfectly, the process of preparation provides an invaluable advantage.

Conversations throughout the conference were centered on the new retailer priorities, the new skill sets for growth, and the new non-negotiables that cannot be overlooked in retail.  Across Day 1’s mainstage speeches and Day 2’s breakout sessions emerged three key themes that can inform suppliers’ planning going forward

  1. Cater to emerging Epicurean shopper demands. New shopper fundamentals are being developed as increased shopper empowerment and fragmentation form the “Epicurean shoppers” that now make up nearly two-thirds of all shoppers. Three characteristics define their mindset, the first being self-gratification in which value becomes less price-focused. The second is simplicity, which leads to routine consideration as shoppers look to eliminate unnecessary trips. Most importantly, these shoppers are driven by self-reference, looking to shop where they see reflections of their own values. To win the Epicurean shopper, suppliers and retailers must deepen loyalty and broaden appeal through building on exclusivity, creating incentives, and increasing transparency. For example, there are a growing number of digital touchpoints available via mobile and voice integration. In-store, Epicurean shoppers can be attracted through services and experiences, product discovery, and curated solution displays.

  2. Strategize against rising disruptors in interconnected commerce.  Digitally-native challenger brands, retailers’ private label brands, and third-party players have penetrated the market by targeting specific consumer values with equity and appealing price points.  For example, in the past two years, private label presence has grown across grocery with an average of 1.9 ppt more shoppers buying private label in 2018 than in 2017.  More than half of all shopper purchase private label due to lower cost, but quality of product follows at 43%. To position against private label, suppliers should consider ways to compete on price through meaningful promotions while reminding shoppers of their brand value and quality. There is also opportunity for collaboration with relevant private label adjacencies. 

    As previously mentioned, the new Epicurean shopper mindset is driven by self-reflective shopping which aligns well with purpose-led challenger brands. Suppliers with a clear and authentic purpose will have a greater chance of sustained differentiation. Competition from third-party (3P) sellers online also presents challenges and opportunities for suppliers. 3P has invaded the mass and specialty retail marketplaces, reaching 52% of total units sold on Amazon in Q1 2018, for example. It is crucial to be proactive in defending against these unconventional players by enhancing your product selection and working cross-functionally to leverage learnings and better compete in this space.

  3. Experiment with clear digital ambition to boost success in an omnichannel environment. Organizations must prioritize aggressive digital strategies to compete in an increasingly interconnected retail landscape.  In doing so, they can better adapt to disruptive threats, quickly transform through observation, and have the flexibility to embrace risk and experimentation.  This capability allows brands to fail small and fail fast, which, in turn, positions the organization to keep up in a landscape of accelerating change.

To learn more about the topics covered at Planning Conference, download the event decks here.

Interested in attending a Kantar Consulting event? Check out our upcoming conferences and workshops.  

For more information, please contact:

Abigail Benkert, Summer Analyst

Sutton Wunderle, Summer Analyst

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