2022 Post-Pandemic CPG Brand, Meet 1970’s Inflation

If you turn your TV on, you have no doubt heard inflation compared to the 1970’s or gas prices increasing like they did in the 70’s. The comparisons to the decade are so ubiquitous you would be well within your rights to dust off your bell bottoms. While consumers may not be prepared to hop back into the fashions of the day, their shopping behavior is beginning to look more like their mothers’ or grandmothers’.

According to Numerator, a leading packaged goods research firm, March 2022 grocery prices were up 11.3%. Honestly, it feels higher. There is no shortage of ways to look at the numbers, and people will have different interpretations to serve some purpose. However, there is no denying these realities:

  • The number is high.
  • It is impacting all Americans, but especially those with lower economic status.
  • It does not appear to be leaving soon.
  • Consumers have no choice but to alter shopping habits to survive. As manufacturers, we must be attuned to the shifts and meet the buyers where they live.

The first part is recognition of the evolving playing field. For our purpose let’s assume you are past that point. The question now is how do we react? The importance of our online effort remains critical, but it is evolving. Unlike the circulars and coupon clipping of the 1970s, consumers are online identifying retailers, brands and bargains. It is as if we can hear our buyer ask, “Where can I find the best deals, make as few stops as needed and take advantage of retail loyalty programs, specifically gas rewards.”

This cherry-picking strategy eats into the margin. However, can we look at it as a chance to increase trial or household penetration? Job one, obviously, is survival of your business or brand. But job 2 is to keep us in the pantry during these lean times so we come out stronger on the other side.

Shoppers are not in a place to pay for convenience, so it’s time to reprioritize those delivery system relationships and budgets in favor of marketing efforts to aid pull through. In a word, we need to be “discoverable” for our shopper online and in-store.

The reality is some shoppers have not been inside their local grocer in a long time. That shoppers need to fill the basket, and they are not driving all over town to do it. They better find you where they are shopping.

On the digital front we need to make it as easy as possible for the shopper to find our brand and our nearest distribution partner.

  • Does your site speak to your product mix, is it up to date, is it searchable?
  • Is your keyword strategy on point? To that end, is it on point in combination with your retailers’ search strategy.

Finally, stay nimble. Projections call for these inflationary prices to be with us at least until the mid-point of 2023. That is a long time. You need to react today. When prices do return to normal, you will be no worse for wear if you take a few simple steps now to make your brand more discoverable, and your retail partners will appreciate the effort.

You survived a pandemic; you can certainly outlast KC and The Sunshine Band.

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