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Sustained incremental growth in the consumer package goods (CPG) and retailing industries has never been more elusive. Consumer trends are leaning increasingly toward less processed, more health-conscious products. At the same time, traditional manufacturers and retailers are grappling with declining foot traffic and rapidly evolving e-commerce purchase options.

But some CPG and retail companies are working hard to stem the tide—putting the customer’s wants and needs first, so they can be smarter at anticipating the needs of today’s rapidly evolving tastes. Here are two recent examples of CPG companies and one retail enterprise that have successfully innovated by becoming customer-centric:

  1.    Dole improves packaging to stand out.

Driven by the popularity of smoothies, sales of frozen fruit topped $1 billion last year, a jump of 67 percent since 2010. Dole is taking advantage of that trend by making significant tweaks to its packaging.

Dole, which leads the frozen fruit market in the U.S., came up with a new packaging design after engaging more than 1,000 customers and finding out about their buying habits.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the company “developed shiny bags that stand up,” to differentiate its products from flimsier store-brand bags that customers have come to expect from frozen fruit brands. “It covered them in colorful photos of fruit and berries, making it easier to spot them in the grocery store. It printed healthy recipes for smoothies and salad on the bags. A resealable closure was designed to help customers fight freezer burn at home.” Partly due to the packaging improvements, Dole has been able to take advantage of the increasing popularity of frozen fruits and drive increased revenue.

Tweet this!#CPG company @DolePackaged uses packaging innovation to drive revenue: (CLICK TO TWEET)

  1.    Coca-Cola drives revenue by selling less soda.

Coke is taking an unusual response to the persistent decline of soda consumption: selling less of its product at a higher price. More info from New York Daily News:

During a presentation in November, Coke’s North American president Sandy Douglas said the health and wellness trend has set up “a tremendous opportunity for the Coca-Cola brand with our smaller packages.”

He noted a regular 12-ounce can of Coke on average sell for 31 cents. By comparison, a 7.5-ounce mini-can sells for 40 cents. That translates to 2.6 cents-per-ounce for a regular can, versus 5.3 cents-per ounce for the mini version.

Coca-Cola said that while it may be selling less soda, smaller packs are pushing up revenue.

This tactic works for the soda company because it makes sense for today’s customer, who is more likely to be health-conscious than in decades past. “Mini-cans” let customers indulge without consuming as many calories as they would from a regular can of soda.

Tweet this!Smaller packages help @CocaCola drive sales and revenue: (CLICK TO TWEET)

  1.    Target mixes up its product mix.

Last year, in an effort to differentiate itself from Walmart, retailing giant Target started pushing a different mix of products. Instead of emphasizing basic products like toilet paper and laundry detergent, Target is focusing on home décor, apparel and other “cheap chic” items, according to Business Insider.

The strategy helps Target avoid a price war. Walmart offers deeply discounted items for customer staples—a strategy that is difficult for Target to compete with.

Tweet this!Target avoids price war by focusing on "cheap chic" items: (CLICK TO TWEET)


These examples show how a deep understanding of customers can help improve critical elements of your innovation and marketing strategy. Customer intelligence platforms, which provide ongoing, real-time feedback from an engaged community of customers, can help inform your decisions, whether it’s packaging, placement or your product mix, More than ever, CPG and retail companies need to engage with customers to drive better business decisions.

The Human Side of Product Innovation

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