Consumer Goods Tech Trends: Connecting with Consumers

At the Consumer Goods Business and Technology Leadership Conference last week, Stephen Smith, Managing Vice President of Gartner, led a panel of executives in explaining the latest technical trends in the consumer goods industry. While there are a number of trends in the digital consumer goods landscape, the overarching trend they found this year was the need to connect with consumers through social and mobile platforms and to better understand those users through the utilization of consumer data.

Gartner performed a survey of consumer goods leaders, asking them to name their top three technology sales and marketing investment priorities. Of twenty-three responses listed, the surveyed leaders named Consumer Mobile Applications, Digital Marketing Analytics, Master Data Management, and Social Media Marketing Platforms as their top priorities for the year. Consumer goods companies are seeing the importance of investing in better understanding their users and reaching them where they are: on their mobile devices and using social media.

So, why is that this year’s biggest trend? One reason may stem from a talk from “Data Crush” author, Christopher Surdak, who also presented at last week’s conference. Surdak spoke about how the “digital trinity” of Mobility, Social Media, and Analytics have created new expectations in the mind of the consumer (also discussed in David Giannetto’s book “Big Social Mobile”). They will no longer settle for mass marketing tactics of bulk emails or generic experiences. There is a “new normal” for today’s digital audience – as adapted from Surdak’s talk:

Quality – Consumers expect perfection. Deliver less and your customers will abandon you.
Ubiquity – Globalization means everything, anywhere, anytime. Anything less is unacceptable.
Immediacy – Immediate gratification. Instantly, predictively.
Disengagement – Customers don’t care about how you build or run, they only buy a result.

To deliver on these expectations, consumer goods organizations need to start from a foundation of understanding not just who their customers are, but what drives them. The organizations need to see each customer as an individual and deliver on what the customer wants, when they want it.

Connecting with customers on this level may sound like a tall order, but the important first step is implementing the right tools for identifying customers and gathering analytics on behavior that can then be combined with identity data. Gartner posits that those organizations that succeed with leveraging digital to connect with their consumers will drive industry growth over the next 5 – 10 years. Gartner also suggests, to be successful, the consumer goods industry will first need to invest in social, mobile, and analytics.