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KPMG: Modern Consumer Expectations Still Being Overlooked

Consumer goods companies are changing to stay strong in today’s competitive market–but there’s a lot more work to do.

According to a survey conducted by KPMG International and The Consumer Goods Forum, consumer goods companies are transforming themselves into omni-businesses to meet the needs of customers in-store and online during shopping experiences.

“The Global Consumer Executive Top of Mind” survey analyzed the responses of 400 consumer goods retail executives from 27 countries and they said that transitioning is necessary to secure competitive advantages.

“The most critical focus for these companies is, and always should be, the customer and the customer experience,” said KPMG’s national line of business leader for consumer markets, Mark Larson. He added, “Consumer demands and expectations change rapidly, and companies must continue to adopt a highly ‘customer-centric’ mind-set and leverage new, disruptive technologies to ensure they can understand, meet and even predict their customers’ behavior.”

Thirty-two percent of executives surveyed said they plan to evolve into omni-businesses and integrate their distribution, inventory marketing, manufacturing, payments and sales channels to fulfill customer desires. Forty-two percent of executives surveyed also said that Millennial customers already expect an easy experience across sales channels in-store and online.

To advance this process, executives said that they are spending funds on smarter analytics and technologies that may be used to predict customer behaviors and expectations. Predictive analytics use is projected to increase to 59 percent and customer path-to-purchase analytics use is predicted to go up as well to 54 percent by 2018. Artificial intelligence use will also double to 43 percent in two years. Other developments include real-time tracking systems, scenario modeling and micro targeting.

Although consumer goods companies are investing greatly in the omni-business model, most overlook modern customers’ expectations, including competitive pricing, companies’ return policies and payment options. The survey found that consumer goods companies thought that these factors were the least important in regards to customer service.

According to the survey, 43 percent of customers said that personalized customer experiences determine where they shop. Forty-two percent of customers also said that they like shopping at stores that provide a seamless multi-channel shopping experience. Forty-one percent of customers also said that they prefer stores that offer easy payment and checkout processes. Social media also played an important determining factor for customers, 35 percent said that they favor stores with excellent engagement on platforms including Facebook and Instagram.

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Larson noted that consumer goods companies should prioritize customers despite evolving innovations and today’s competitive market. “Customer service is the dominant player in the industry. The key to success is to provide a highly personalized experience for each consumer, regardless of the interaction or point of sale. To do that, companies better know their customers,” he said.