What happens when the path-to-purchase model no longer exists? For years CPG companies have relied on focused efforts and investment to get their products onto the shopping list — the bridge between in-home and in-store experience. From brand preference, to need (identified by replenishment), to in-store trade-up or add-on, the model has been an effective strategy for influencing shoppers.
P&G set the standard with the discipline by splitting brand building and marketing into two moments of truth: first the shelf, where packaging and product claims dominate; and second, the home, where products actually perform. Retailers also embraced the model by focusing on in-store convenience, price and promotion, private labeling, and their own shopping list apps and solutions.
But with the impending convergence of in-home connected devices, such as smart refrigerators, washing machines, and coffee makers, and technology platforms for instant replenishment, such as Amazon Dash, the home and shelf are merging. Why would a consumer need a shopping list, or have to visit a store, when their consumable items just show up at their home when they need them?
If this is the case, then incumbency reigns supreme — minimizing the store decision and subsequent in-store marketing and further emphasizing apps (both desktop and mobile) as the best way to engage shoppers with new products, deals, and messaging. While ultimately giving CPG companies more influence on the initial purchasing decision, it makes the impacts of those decisions more permanent.
Although still in it’s infancy, as frictionless replenishment becomes more mainstream, which isn’t too far into the future, CPG companies will need to rethink how they develop, package and market products. I expect the winners to develop new, lower-cost packaging, shift investment to technology partnerships, and re-imagine their messaging. This is the future, and I look forward to the day when I no longer have to be thinking about buying toothpaste, coffee, or toilet paper … they’ll just always be there when I need them.