Last updated: March 17, 2022 That was then, this is now: CPG marketing after COVID-19

That was then, this is now: CPG marketing after COVID-19


The coronavirus pandemic has permanently changed how consumers shop. According to McKinsey, US e-commerce channels experienced 10 years’ growth in just a three-month period.

What’s more, over 75% of US shoppers tried out different stores, websites, or brands – and 60% say they now plan to integrate these new brands and stores into their post-COVID-19 lives.

Clearly, the rules of engagement have changed.

New shopper attitudes, behaviors, expectations, and channel preferences mean brands need to reimagine how they sell their products. Let’s look at some ways CPG marketing can change in this dramatically different environment.

CPG marketing in a new era of consumer engagement

The accelerated adoption of digital technology by businesses and consumers during the coronavirus crisis has prompted many brands to revise their go-to-market strategies in a bid to capitalize on new opportunities and fulfill new customer and consumer demands.

For some, the solution was to take the plunge and enter the direct to consumer (DTC) market.

For example, Brakes, a UK B2B food delivery business, launched a dedicated B2C channel. Others are banking on subscription ordering models that lock in customer value and loyalty.

In a bid to maximize their channel relationships, some CPG manufacturers are looking at how they can engage with retailers to capture a greater share of the skyrocketing demand for e-commerce.

Some are enabling retailers to:

  1. Directly place orders online
  2. Implement real-time inventory management to reduce stockouts
  3. Optimize SKUs for specific digital channels
  4. Others are assessing how partnerships with logistics and delivery businesses could unlock new and disruptive routes to market

To be successful in any online sales environment, CPG companies must overcome multiple challenges in execution. It’s not easy: Enabling new e-commerce capabilities and leveraging technologies in a way that allows consumers to be approached according to their preferences and priorities.

Align CPG marketing with consumer values

Consumers today are making highly nuanced decisions about where, when and how they shop based on cost, convenience, environmental impact, and other a range of other societal factors.

More mindful than ever about what they buy and why, they’re seeking out locally sourced products and making more frequent micro-shopping trips to neighborhood stores.

To keep their fingers on the pulse of how shopper routines, habits, and preferences are evolving, CPG marketing will need to get much better at engaging in two-way conversations with consumers – using these feedback loops to make informed tactical decisions.

They will also need to become more adept at communicating their brand’s social values in relevant and impactful ways.

Rethinking partner relationships

In addition to looking for brands that share their values, consumers now expect brands to deliver seamless omnichannel experiences.

With increased demand for curbside pickups, home delivery, and order online and pick-up-in-store fulfillment services, brands that collaborate closely with trade distributors to enable these services via local independent stores, or locker locations, will be well positioned to build greater shopper loyalty.

Changes in purchasing behavior combined with a robust e-commerce platform open the door to new arrangements with trading partners, where the manufacturer is more involved during the online purchasing process and trading partners focus on the logistics of distribution.

By taking ownership of all consumer sales interactions and empowering distributors to handle fulfillment, CPG companies gain greater visibility into how their products are performing in multiple channels and geographic locations.

Leveraging these data insights, they’ll be able to optimize product mixes and ensure the most appropriate merchandising materials are deployed.

CPG companies that pivot and develop sophisticated omnichannel capabilities will be in a strong position to both maintain their physical presence in local stores and meet the demands of e-commerce shoppers.

Navigating the new normal

Rethinking go-to-market models is a challenging task, and no one size will fit all. CPG leaders need to evaluate how best to adapt their brands to maintain performance in the face of new consumer and geographic market realities.

Delivering digital and physical experiences that truly resonate with consumers will require repeated market testing and constant evaluation to ensure all routes to market are in synch.

The aim of the game isn’t to cannibalize existing sales assets or create channel conflict. Instead, everyone should focus on using data insights to maximize value, fulfill new consumer expectations, and unlock new growth.

To achieve these goals, CPG leaders need to ensure that the right decisions – informed by analytics insights generated across their digitally connected multi-channel models – are made by the right people at a global, regional, and local level.

Without these synergies, CPG leaders will struggle to eliminate the silos that get in the way of organization-wide transformation or achieve the governance needed to drive growth built around intense consumer-centricity.

What makes customers stick? Discover proven loyalty strategies HERE.

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Javier Flores

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