The pandemic has introduced more than 22 million U.S. consumers to online shopping channels since March 2020, fundamentally changing the way people shop for consumer packaged goods (CPG).
CPG consumers are becoming accustomed to shopping for products based on common needs-based search terms like keto, paraben-free or low sugar. But retailers are failing to claim 92% of products that qualify for the attributes consumers are searching for, consequently excluding those products from online search results.
There’s a significant opportunity for retailers to take advantage of the increase in need-state shopping, and use it as an opportunity to drive growth and better customer experiences with private label brands. Once considered a cheaper option, these in-house brands are now seen as high-quality alternatives — and for retailers, a growth opportunity.
Consumer Demands are Evolving
The ability to understand which product attributes consumers are seeking is critical. With countless options for a single product, consumers are no longer just adding the first product they see on a shelf or webpage to their carts. According to NielsenIQ’s Omnichannel Shopping Fundamentals Survey, only 1% of shoppers purchase a health or personal care product because it’s the first option they see.
More than 200 million consumers follow a particular diet or health-related eating program, and nearly the same number of people indicate that a food allergy or intolerance impacts the way they shop. Consumer purchase decisions are now driven more by concerns about dietary restrictions, lifestyle choices and fragrance sensitivities. But despite the growing number of options for products and shifting consumer expectations, online retailers are lagging behind in terms of personalization. Only 21 of 30 retailers in a recent study offered any type of search filtering — and the retailers that did provide filters overlooked 80% of common consumer need-states.
Unfortunately, many online retailers are making it difficult for consumers to find products that meet their needs. Generic search filters aren’t enough anymore — you need precise data about your products and customers to help shoppers easily find what they’re looking for. This is where product attribute metadata comes into play. Essentially the DNA of a product in terms of the need states it fulfills, this data can help you understand precisely which consumer need states — and search filters — your products qualify for. Leveraging this data can help your private label brand connect with shoppers in-store and online.
3 Ways Data can Elevate Your Omnichannel Presence
Consumers’ shopping preferences are rapidly shifting, and so are their expectations for retailers. Consumers are demanding more seamless omnichannel experiences, ecommerce personalization and easy-to-find products that meet their specific needs.
Understanding consumers’ specific needs through rich metadata enables you to determine which products to add to your private label portfolio and which product attributes you should highlight. These insights, paired with consumer search trends and sales data, can help shoppers easily find your products while meeting their demands.
Product attribute metadata creates new opportunities for private label brands to achieve omnichannel success. Major retailers like Walmart and Target are already using private label brands to build loyalty and brand equity.
1. Enhanced innovation: With consumer preferences rapidly changing and trends evolving faster than ever, it’s important to stay on top of the next big thing. Standard category-based innovation might not be enough anymore. You need to look at trends across various categories (e.g. looking at plant-based products in canned goods, frozen food and other categories versus only looking at plant-based products in frozen food). With attribute-based activation, you can look across all categories to more accurately predict trends. From there, you can activate products through promotions and merchandising in a more timely manner — before the next big trend emerges.
2. Easier online discovery: Online grocery shopping skyrocketed during the pandemic. Online customers typically spend more money on groceries in a week than in-person shoppers. Yet retailers fail to claim the majority of their products that qualify for different need states, making product discovery especially difficult for online shoppers who can’t physically inspect products and their labels. It’s critical to use data to cater to your online shoppers’ needs and provide them with easy-to-use digital tools. Product attribute metadata can help you understand which need states your products qualify for, and with that knowledge you can tag products and descriptions accordingly so they appear higher in search results. Using this data helps you more accurately target customers with ads that match their searches (i.e. Google Ads), enabling shoppers to more easily find products that meet their needs.
3. Advanced personalization: Developing shopper profiles based on product attribute metadata is an effective way to grow and build loyalty with your customers. Learning each shopper’s preferences, like whether they prefer fragrance-free laundry detergent, allows you to personalize promotions and paid search results to target customers with products that match their specific needs. You can also use need-state shopper profiles to generate better out-of-stock replacements for online grocery customers. Nearly 40% of shoppers believe brands need to offer more personalized experiences, so learning and understanding what your customers want — and catering to those demands — can help you outpace the competition.
Improving the customer experience and product innovation is only possible with data-driven insights. In the competitive, rapidly evolving health and wellness industry, it’s critical for your private label brand to make products more easily discoverable and build loyalty. Product attribute metadata can help ensure your customers know exactly what’s in the products they purchase, while making it easier for them to find those items, ultimately leading to more sales and increased loyalty.
Sherry Frey is Health and Wellness Industry Leader at NielsenIQ. She has more than two decades of industry experience and is a recognized thought leader on health/wellness shopping and consumption trends. With a background in marketing, market research, innovation and consulting with clients across many industries, Frey shares visionary foresights combined with practical strategies. Her view of health and wellness is beyond our own personal health and wellness and includes how we collectively think of the health of the planet.