Knowledge is power | KPMG | BE

Knowledge is power

Knowledge is power

KPMG invests in Label Insight, which breaks down a product’s attributes in forensic detail, helping reduce risk and drive revenue.

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Customers and regulators are demanding more transparency about the products that are bought and sold. That demand isn’t going away. Quite the opposite – it’s likely to become more intense.”

So says Bryan Furlong, Director of Investment Business Operations at KPMG Capital, as he explains why the company has taken an equity stake in Label Insight, a leader in the US$2.3bn consumer product data market. The company’s proprietary technology enables companies to look beyond basic product information and analyze 13,500 smart attributes, which can help manufacturers:

  • Comply with product data initiatives launched by retailers, government agencies and industry organizations
  • Integrate product data into mobile and e-commerce apps 
  • Search and compare product claims and certifications
  • Optimize product assortments to meet consumer needs
  • Drive better outcomes in sourcing, merchandising and innovation.

Furlong says manufacturers need granular knowledge of their product to cope with a fast-changing, complex regulatory environment. Yet such in-depth analysis can also help manufacturers boost revenue. “Some companies find out that they aren’t making claims for their product, for example in terms of health and wellness, they could be making.

Sometimes, the right kind of analysis can give you a new understanding of what’s selling and why. You might look at the attributes of your most popular products and realize that what they have in common is a particular ingredient, like chia. You can then, if you wish, adjust your product formula accordingly.”
The demand to analyze products in such forensic detail is strongest in the US, where the SmartLabel scheme – a QR code shoppers can scan with their phones in store or access later via a tablet or computer – is taking off.

The new labels provide instant access to 350 attributes including animal welfare, health claims, social compliance programs, GM ingredients and information about sustainability. America’s Grocery Manufacturers Association predicts that four out of five packaged grocery goods will be using this scheme by the end of 2017.

Label Insight’s first-to-market SmartSPEC system helps brands to participate in the SmartLabel scheme and position themselves as transparent brands customers can trust.

“After some of the challenges we have seen affecting the food and drink industry in recent years, trust has become a critical issue for customers and regulators,” says Furlong. “And with the services offered by Label Insight, we can help companies take the action they need to maintain that trust and protect – or enhance – the value of their brands.”

 

Keep the consumer in sight

Understanding your brand and knowing your customers are the first steps to creating a profitable customer strategy, says Julio Hernandez, Global Lead for KPMG’s Customer Center of Excellence

Are you deriving enough profit from your customers? No matter what product or service you’re selling, your CFO’s answer to that question will probably be ‘No’. Saying you will align your customer strategy to your profit goals is significantly easier than actually doing it – which is why so many consumer goods companies are wrestling with this challenge.

The best place to start is your brand. Understand what your brand represents to customers, what your promise is to the marketplace and how that compares to your rivals’ proposition. It may be that your promise is no longer competitive and that you need to rethink what your brand represents.

To make a realistic assessment, it is important that you understand who is buying from you, why they’re buying from you and, for that matter, why – and what – they’re buying from the competition. If you know all that, it’s much easier to understand which customers you want to retain, nurture, acquire or discard (although, in a social media age, be very careful about how you do the latter) and define a profitable mix.

When you’ve done that, it will be much easier to decide how best to communicate, engage and interact with the customers you want to focus on – and start differentiating how you manage your relationship with them based on their values, profile and needs. Which channel are they most likely to use? Are they more likely to be motivated by price or experience? And how much time do they wish to spend with your brand?

As obvious as this may sound, it’s vital not to lose sight of the consumer. A trap many companies fall into is to focus on what they can sell to their customer – not what their customer wants to buy from them. Successful brands strike the right balance. And to do that, they have to deliver – which means a realistic SWOT analysis of their operational capabilities, future requirements and the resources and investment required to reap the forecast rewards.

Many companies define their customer strategy with a slogan – and underpin that with a handful of key attributes. But turning that strategy into increased profit will take time, work and determination. Good strategies often fail because the message doesn’t cascade down through the organization – and people don’t understand how to apply it in their everyday jobs.

The good news is that, with the right words, deeds and expectations, defining – and implementing – a more profitable customer strategy is achievable. And in a consumer marketplace where competitive advantages seem slimmer and less durable than they were five years ago, it could make all the difference.

Consumer Currents: Off the shelf

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