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As consumers, media, and markets splinter, packaged-goods companies must figure out how to profit from fragmentation. Meanwhile, what we call the great fragmentation is manifested in consumer behavior and market response. A decade ago, CPG companies had only a handful of sales channels to consider: supermarkets, convenience stores, hypermarkets in advanced economies, and traditional small and large retailers in emerging and developed countries.
The result has been greater demand for more products and brands, with different sizes, packaging, and sales methods. Consumers’ media usage has also fragmented with the rise of digital content and the proliferation of online devices. Collectively, these shifts challenge the way CPG companies manage their brand and business portfolios, and call for a rethinking of their go-to-market approach, with an emphasis on analytics. This attention to cost does not mean simply a pruning of the portfolio of lagging products, but realignment around a more intelligently chosen set of brands that cover the spectrum of consumer needs efficiently, with minimal overlap.
In the same way, as companies move to cover more retail channels, they need to simplify trade terms and promotional spending. Large CPG companies may also need to minimize and concentrate their business portfolios to succeed in a more fragmented marketplace, rethinking entire categories of brands.
Adapting to the fragmentation of marketing channels has stimulated many companies to innovate in managing more digital merchandising and communications paths.
It is time for consumer goods companies to consolidate the lessons from using digital channels.
The good news is that the data and analytics capabilities that underlie effective multichannel delivery and marketing are also scale-sensitive and fungible across businesses and markets.
By concentrating on these key capabilities and combining them in a coherent fashion, CPG companies can increase their returns on investment and position themselves to outperform their peers in the leaner and more fragmented marketplace of the future.
Even where economies are starting to perform better, the squeeze on after-tax wages, especially for the middle class, younger people, and families, is depressing consumer spending. In both developed and emerging markets, there is a wider variety among consumers now than at any time in the recent past.

We’re used to seeing, for example, spirits buyers purchasing a premium brand in a bar, a less-costly label at home for personal consumption, and yet another when entertaining guests. At most CPG companies, SKUs are proliferating, despite there being little increase in overall consumption. Indeed, the ability to handle product line complexity cost-effectively can in itself become a competitive advantage. Managing the wide variety of outlets and marketing opportunities is not a simple, cut-and-dried activity.
Kraft Foods’ decision to split itself into two in 2012, spinning off its instant-consumption-oriented snack and confectionary brands into Mondelez International, was an early and prominent example. What they need now is to move on in the innovation cycle, and identify and double down on what really works, as opposed to what is merely possible or interesting or promising. They will play an important role in managing costs in today’s wage-restricted consumer environment. The second is changing consumer attitudes toward products and brands, as the the great fragmentation of consumer markets takes another turn. Growth is evident both at the top of the market (where more consumers are spending for higher-quality food and other packaged goods) and at the lower end (where an increasing number of consumers are concentrating on value). A better outcome can be seen at smaller food and beverage suppliers, which are benefiting from consumer demand for variety and authenticity. But at the same time, media campaigns need to be closely coordinated for effective consumer messaging. In many cases, companies will need to expand the overall brand and product footprint in order to reach imperfectly served consumer needs and proliferating retail channels. Over time and especially during the recent recession, marketing and promotion campaigns have proliferated and overlapped as CPG companies have desperately chased limited sales volume. In response, companies must dramatically shift the route they take to reach consumers in terms of both product distribution and communications. We expect continued weakness in consumer disposable income regardless of which way macro GNP uncertainties break.
In addition, dollar stores, specialized retailers, and online merchants are having an impact on the CPG landscape.

The more knowledgeable about customer needs and preferences a company is, the smarter and more focused it must be in managing its own economics to cost-effectively deliver both variety and value to the squeezed consumer. They may have to serve premium channels, but also serve discounters — or outcompete discounters with their own value brands.
They can apply a new generation of analytics capabilities to assess, monitor, and focus investment in communications that are successful. Instead, shoppers are visiting a premium store and a discounter as well as a supermarket, in multiple weekly stops — in addition to making frequent purchases online. Economizing consumers have been pleasantly surprised by the savings generated by spreading their business among multiple channels, as well as by the variety and product quality they find. Current practices add cost for both CPG companies and retailers, far beyond their contribution to industry growth. In the process, they can add valuable insight for retailers, which often see their shoppers in aggregate, but are somewhat blind to the preferences of the individual consumer.
In the recession, more shoppers became inclined to spend time hunting for bargains, and as some traditional retailers either went out of business or shuttered stores, retail space was freed up and was often filled by convenience stores, specialty shops, and discounters. We will see more and more such behavior, and continued experimentation and innovation by retailers as they try to respond. In some instances this will mean breathing more life into neglected products to balance the brand portfolio. As yet, there are few companies with proven, replicable, large-scale marketing analytics capabilities, but 2015 will see the emergence of some new leaders, we believe. They tell you which marketing efforts work and which are failing, and why, as well as which single campaign can do the job of several initiatives.

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