Tomorrow’s retail landscape is going to be monitored by filters, such as the information filter installed by Facebook, “which decides what we see and what we don’t see,” according to Steven van Belleghem, a thought leader on the transformation of customer relationships and the future of marketing.
Another example is the product filter being installed on Alexa by Amazon, which will decide to which brands a consumer will be exposed.
“If you take the hypothesis that more people will use these filters to buy products in a more convenient way, one of the challenges for the snack industry is to make sure that people don't ask for a healthy snack, but rather ask for the specific brand of that healthy snack,” he told BakeryandSnacks.
The retail landscape is becoming more complex.
“In the past you had retailer A against retailer B. Today, you are starting to see … how retailers are using the help from big technology companies,” he said, noting Walmart’s partnership with Google and Amazon’s tie in with Whole Foods.
We are going into a world of ‘direct delivery,’ where convenience is extremely important.
“I think retailers that understand that the scarcest resource of consumers is their time, those will be the ones that win.
“There are two things that [a retailer] can do at your customer’s time. You can help them to save time and you can enhance their time – and I think both online and offline apply.
“If you think about the retail store, you can use the store to save time, making sure that people don't have to wait in line to pick up stuff they ordered online.
“But, you can also enhance their experience by creating more value.
“So, I think retailers that understand how to manage the time of customer will be a successful player in the future industry.”
Van Belleghem said snack producers have a window of opportunity of five to seven years to make sure they become that kind of brand that people specifically ask for, which means investing in activation.
He also believes they should invest more in the power of the brand than they have done so in the past, rather than focusing on activation to chase short-term results.
“That was really valuable in the past, but if you have a product and brand filter, you will need to have a strong brand to get through that filter.”
Van Belleghem said we are at the beginning of a new S-curve that is set to change the way we live – where artificial intelligence will be increasingly used to predict consumer behavior and data will become hyper-personalized.
“I think this is going to be the next challenge for the fast moving consumer goods industry: to see how they can use that [data]… and how to link it back to consumers, because consumers will also use that data,” said Van Belleghem.
“Consumers will use data to have a healthier life, to be more conscious about what they eat and be more conscious about the environment.
“Today, that’s still in an early phase, but if that becomes as convenient as sending a WhatsApp message today, then that will entirely change the industry.”
To date, Steven van Belleghem has given more than 1,000 keynote presentations that have reached more than 400,000 people.
He is also the author four bestselling books, which have been translated into seven languages and sold over 120,000 copies. His most recent book, Customers The Day After Tomorrow, has been nominated for the award of best international business book.
Van Belleghem is also cofounder of consultancy firm Nexxworks, cofounder of content creation company Snackbytes and part-time marketing professor at Vlerick Business School, a private entity with campuses in Ghent, Leuven, Brussels and Saint Petersburg.