Infographic via CB Insights
It’s common knowledge in today’s world of retail that times are not easy for CPG companies and their retail partners. The big players in the space have been busy with mergers and acquisitions in the hopes of gaining back some of their market share, but as fresh and organic food options and delivery services continue to grow, they are facing an increasing amount of competition.
As a recent infographic from CB Insights points out, there have been an interestingly large amount of small startup food and beverage companies making their way onto shelves in recent years. The trend toward more niche, artisanal-focused options has resonated with consumers, and has helped reshape the CPG landscape.
And it doesn’t stop at food. CPG categories in general, such as skin care, pet care and cosmetics are all areas where small, niche brands are breaking into the mainstream markets. But these startups and smaller challenger brands come with their share of obstacles as well. While today’s manufacturers and retailers are all working with shrinking budgets, startups have the additional challenge of convincing retailers that a lesser known brand deserves a space on the shelf. That’s where virtual reality solutions come into play.
We know that VR has helped the Kellogg’s and Walgreens of the world create more seamless business processes, but also it can—and has—given smaller niche companies a leg up when it comes to learning what in-store concepts might resonate with shoppers. Organic baby food manufacturer Happy Family began as a startup, and while it has grown to bring in $100 million in annual sales, it remains true to its smaller, niche roots. In order to maintain that role for its many loyal customers while still competing in a crowded and saturated market, they turned to VR solution to test multiple new in-store concepts faster, and for less money than previous methods. Happy Family wanted to learn which of four different shelf sets would resonate the most with shoppers. Instead of having to physically construct four separate concepts in a test store, they turned to VR technology to send shoppers through a virtual walk through. In just over three months they were able to learn which concept resonated the most with respondents and present that to their retail partners, with quality data to back up their claim.
Edgewell Personal Care is another challenger brand that is leveraging VR for data-backed insights into new concepts, while saving time and resources. The company recently wanted to test if a reduced assortment in a confusing category—sun care—would help shopability. Through VR simulations they were able to quickly find insights without having to run an in-store test.
While all manufacturers and retailers can benefit from VRs ability to mitigate risk, it can be especially helpful for niche and challenger brands who have the added difficulty of getting noticed and gaining buy-in amid so much competition. Startup brands can stay within their small budgets and work faster than ever before, while remaining true to their customer base.