Taking Pulse of the Consumer - Brand Strategy and the Way Forward | HCLTech

Taking Pulse of the Consumer - Brand Strategy and the Way Forward

February 23, 2023
9 min read
Rashne Bharucha


Rashne Bharucha
Client Partner, Retail-CPG
February 23, 2023
9 min read

In a world where business parameters revolve around customers and their preferences, many brands have reinvented customer service. The world’s largest e-tailer Amazon has been a premier innovator in the domain of CPG. In a post-Covid world, they shifted their focus on the customer journey across their portal. In a bid to offer a seamless experience, Amazon created a dedicated FAQ page that answered common questions related to shipping, delivery, refund, and more. This seemingly simple step worked wonders to enhance the customer's experience. They were assured of Amazon's sustained functionality through the disruption while feeling empowered to find answers with self-service.

The good news is many CPG companies have taken a note out of Amazon’s book to drive differentiation and positive customer experiences. They have been constantly innovating and implementing next-gen tech and strategies, no doubt guided by buyer preferences.  As a PWC study shows, 73% of customers said a positive customer experience influences their brand loyalty. For modern CPGs, there are various ways towards building a consumer-focused business. For this, they need to incorporate the tents of customer-centricity at the heart of their core business values.

Placing customer-centricity at the core of CPGs

A survey by Forrester revealed that 72% of respondents believed that customer-centricity had greater priority since COVID-19. For CPGs, customer-centricity has always been key to unlocking business value. However, for increased industry robustness companies must be more agile and personalized in their approach.

What does customer-centricity entail for modern-day CPGs?

For modern CPGs, customer centricity is displayed across several facets of technology adoption. Some of them include:

  • Monitoring evolving customer values and harnessing functional data for insights
  • Deploying AI/ML-based solutions to understand and support customers better- from manufacturing to customer support with AI chatbots
  • Implementing personalized customer identification and engagement solutions
  • Advancing omnichannel for increased accessibility
  • Optimizing supply chain to meet “instant” and prompt delivery demands

Future-proofing CPGs: The path to accelerated growth

To future-proof themselves, CPG brands must invest in newer methods and tools that improve customer-centricity and helps them prepare for the horizon. Some of its common aspects are discussed below.

Leveraging smart tech solutions

CPG brands are foraying into the metaverse. For instance, Coca-Cola recently rolled out a “metaverse flavor”. Additionally, consumers can enter the website and scan the newly launched Coca-Cola Zero Sugar Byte package to enter a four-sensory multiplayer augmented reality game and interact with other players. They are also taking the help of contemporary solutions like intelligent ERPs to comprehend the use of real-time data whenever and wherever it is required. This transforms how businesses interact with consumers and gather customer insights, vastly enhancing innovation throughout the product life cycle and speeding up the introduction of new goods and services.

Innovation-based offerings like HCL Technologies’ Real-time In-store Insights (RII) leverage the power of IoT with radar-sensing technology and camera imaging that captures accurate demographics as well as real-time insights and location data of shoppers. Distributed computing technology and AI track key shopper touchpoints and help generate correlated retail insights, heat maps, and trend reports that facilitate quick tactical and strategic decision-making. 

Incorporating omnichannel into the CPG shopping experience

Integrating the in-store and online experiences and ushering them into “phygital" will ensure a smooth journey for customers with a focus on contactless payments, and grab-n-go stores among others. Omnichannel must impact across all stages of a buyer’s journey to thrive. For instance, deploying next-gen technologies such as also plays a crucial role to increase transparency and trust, thus enhancing CX. Moreover, incorporating immersive tech like AR and VR to boost brand engagement further helps connect CPGs across every step of the consumer journey.

And here HCL Technologies’ Advantage Commerce delivers end-to-end digital commerce programs across modern digital touchpoints. It enables organizations to leverage leading platforms and build e-commerce solutions to deliver enhanced purchase journeys across brands, regions, and business units. The solution blends in industry-specific templates, tools, and accelerators that are developed over the last decade centered around the needs of global customers.

To future-proof themselves, CPG brands must invest in newer methods and tools that improve customer-centricity and helps them prepare for the horizon.

Tailoring customer experiences with DTC

According to new research, 55% of consumers prefer to shop directly from the brand rather than through a third-party retailer. D2C e-commerce sales in the United States are expected to exceed 129 billion USD in 2022. This allows businesses to foster direct customer relationships while enabling them to learn preferences and purchasing habits. Brands can leverage this real-time customer data to drive profitable insights and personalized offerings. For instance, the subscription-based model, used widely in tandem with DTC enables brands to nurture one-to-one relationships with their end consumers and collect first-party data for better-informed pricing optimization, service enhancements, and product innovation.

Digital transformation

The concept of digital transformation needs no further introduction at this juncture. Businesses can employ innovation and technology to build on existing tenets of customer experience and provide enhanced services and offerings. This may include:

  • Harnessing the power of data with Big Data and Analytics to glean insights, improve services, mitigate bottlenecks, and achieve hyper-personalization
  • Fostering self-service with intuitive digital tools and platforms to empower consumers to address issues quickly with simplified interactions
  • Build a robust technological backbone to offer omnichannel experience with the prevalence of digital across multiple mediums and channels
  • Use innovation like AR/VR/MR to create an immersive experience for product showcasing

Future-facing CPGs can adopt futuristic solutions based on Industry 4.0 ethos like HCL Technologies' Industry NeXT. This contributes to holistic transformation initiatives by establishing a cognitive ecosystem of linked experiences, resilient operations, and ethical business processes that will power the next generation of physical and digital services and products. The solution helps create a consumer-centric business by:

  • Creating differentiated value with the next-gen workforce, integrated “phygital” assets, smart facilities, and sustainable operations through expansive digital interventions
  • Transcending functional silos and harvesting the ecosystem generated collective intelligence
  • Shifting to ecosystem-led integrated value delivery models driven by stakeholder collaborations

Sustainable products

Studies have shown that most business leaders attribute sustainability measures to future success of their businesses. With increased awareness, consumers are slowly shifting their purchase habits and preferring brands that are sustainable. Reports suggest that close to 90% of Gen X consumers are willing to spend extra for sustainable products. CPGs can adopt sustainability measures by reducing waste. Some methods would entail:

  • Enhancing inventory forecasting accuracy
  • Designing for a circular economy
  • Higher quality products

HCL Technologies, with Net Zero Intelligent Operations, can help CPG clients achieve their net-zero emission goals with comprehensive monitoring, assessment, and reduction of energy consumption and carbon emissions. The solution helps optimize the energy intensity of assets and processes. It also generates unparalleled insights with calculation, reporting, and identification of emission optimization potential to build a consumer-centric sustainable brand.

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