The seven drivers of change in a post COVID world for FMCG brands

As we emerge blinking into the bright new dawn of the post-lockdown world, so much has changed and at such pace that it’s hard to know where to start as we plan for the future. Covid-19 has accelerated the speed at which businesses must adapt to this new world and at an exponential rate.


The pandemic has separated brands like never before; demanding that every company scrutinises how it operates, sources its raw materials, manages its supply chains, looks after its staff - the list is endless but all of it so very necessary. And it's clear now that the brands who have adapted to this new world, are the ones that are thriving and the brands who have resisted change, are the ones being left behind.

We’ve released a report The Age of Progressive FMCG to help our clients to navigate this new world and understand the signals in the noise. Our report draws on research from across the FMCG sector born from qualitative insight and in-depth discussions with a selection of today's progressive brand leaders. Their raison d'etre is sending the monoliths into a tailspin, demanding that these large conglomerates sit up and take notice. These new territories of FMCG are being defined by progressive thinking and its authors are abundant with innovation coupled with the drive and spirit of consciousness to bring it all to life.

The seven drivers of change:

1 The rapid growth in e-commerce, precipitated by the pandemic: The number of consumers in the UK who do a weekly grocery shop online has doubled during lockdown

2. Disruption across the global retail sector undergoing dramatic change: the dawn of rapid grocery, DTC, parallel shopping behaviours and collapse of the traditional retail sector

3. The emergence and consumer take-up of new technologies: the arrival of till-free stores, revival of QR codes, dynamic price labelling and virtual reality

4. The rise of the (nimble) artisans: a significant share of premium categories in the food and drink sector are now owned by ‘progressive’ brands

5. Changing consumer expectations: the convenience vs choice (and speed) trade-off

6. Sustainability is mainstream: sustainable practice and governance now impacts the bottom line, opens up new stakeholder relationships and attracts the best talent

7. A complex combination of socio-political and cultural pressures: the birth of more inclusive societies and a long-awaited arrival of responsible capitalism

But if there’s one theme that trumps all others, it’s the need for speed.

The brands that are really winning are those that are agile and actively challenging the status quo. Lockdown really sorted out the progressive from the regressive. The nimble artisans pivoted in a heartbeat. Unencumbered by corporate multi-layered approvals, they were able to establish e-commerce solutions in days, reformat their packaging and even launch brand new products. Powered by purpose, their decision-making processes are driven by a shared belief in common values. In other words, decisions that might be defined as brave in a traditional business, are seen simply as common sense and the right thing to do.

Methodology

  • Desk research conducted from August 2020 - November 2020 covering FMCG categories across online retail along with a detailed review of the impact of sustainability/ESG developments
  • Qualitative interviews with ten leading progressive brands (November 2020 - December 2021) including Elvis & Kresse, Belu Water, Hodmedod, Organic Realfoods, Neals Yard, Millican, Tip.me, FishTales and Bird 'n Wild

Written by Richard Rawlins, CEO of marketing agency Finn