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Last week SAP hosted the third Customer Value Network for Consumer Products, this time around in Barcelona, Spain.  The event was very well attended by 25 executives from 20 consumer products companies representing the food, beverage, fashion and apparel, home & personal care and agribusiness segments of the consumer products industry.  And, more than 50% of the attendees also participated in the last meeting.

At last year’s event in Cannes, the singular focus of discussion was on enabling the “moment of truth” for the consumer.  In other words, bringing together all of the appropriate business processes and functions required to ensure that consumer products are placed, priced and promoted correctly at the point of demand.

This year, the consumer products team in EMEA did a great job of building on the content foundation established in the last two meetings by building a bridge from “enabling the moment of truth” to “influencing the consumer along the path to purchase.” 

Consumers today are savvy, fickle, connected with one another and better informed than ever before.  Opportunities to reach, engage and influence consumers as they become aware of products, consider their options and make purchase decisions are far greater than they were even a few years ago.  

One of the challenges – and opportunities – of engaging with the new consumer is that the path to purchase is no longer linear.  It’s cyclical.  Consumer products companies now have the opportunity to engage with, influence and learn from the consumer at each step.  Manage it well and the path to purchase becomes a virtuous cycle. 

What does a typical path to purchase look like?  Let’s start with the assumption of demand – a consumer who wants a product or service.   That consumer makes a plan to buy that product based on their perception of need and a combination of price and value based on that need.

Once a plan to buy is established, the consumer narrows their options for purchasing that product from any number of places, or channels, to a few preferred channels based on the consumer’s requirements and perceptions of shopping experience.

The consumer then makes a purchase decision – choosing one particular product or brand over another – influenced by social engagement, other media, in-store experience or offers delivered via a mobile device.

Once the consumer consumes the product the consumer is in a position to evaluate it against expectations and perceptions, and then share that information via social channels, creating an opportunity for the CP company to engage further with the consumer, hopefully, to create loyalty and ensure future demand.

How are consumer products companies organizing to engage and influence consumers along the path to purchase?  That’s exactly what we discussed last week.  Here are some highlights. 

First, executives from SAP discussed first how SAP is applying technology innovations such as mobile, analytics, cloud and database and technology solutions to enable consumer products companies’ go-to-market strategies.  Then, more specifically, the SAP strategy and roadmap for the consumer products industry.

Then, Colgate-Palmolive shared its’ experience and best practices with the new SAP Accelerated Trade Promotion Planning solution, which enables highly targeted promotions to increasingly refined segments of retailers, stores and consumers – ultimately enabling and reinforcing stronger perceptions of consumer value and influencing consumers’ plans to purchase.

Addressing opportunities to influence consumer choices about where to buy, Ferrero discussed how it is leveraging the SAP Retail Execution mobile application to improve relationships with retail customers, promote merchandising and pricing compliance and ensure on shelf availability to mitigate the risk of lost sales – all of which translates to a positive shopping experience.

coop Switzerland then covered the topic of ‘Retail Without Boundaries,’ exploring the ways in which CP companies and retailers are leveraging social channels and mobility to engage with consumers to influence purchase decisions in the retail environment by delivering relevant information and offers directly to consumers based on what they buy and where they shop.

Moving into the “consume,” “evaluate” and “engage” stages of the path to purchase, SAP first shared how the company is enabling marketing solutions for consumer dialogue to engage with and learn from consumers and consumers’ social channels as those consumers consume, evaluate and engage with the products and brands they consider, purchase and use.

SAP then discussed its’ new solution for Demand Signal Management, including an in-depth discussion of opportunities for CP companies to leverage internal and external, quantitative and qualitative demand signals to improve a wide variety of supply chain, sales and marketing processes.

Building on this message, Puig showcased how the company is using the SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse powered by the SAP HANA PlatformTM to improve real-time reporting and analytics across a variety of business functions, improving the company’s internal operational visibility as well as creating better opportunities to improve consumer engagement along the path to purchase.

And, finally, SAP shared its’ user experience strategy and how that translates into faster adoption, more comprehensive use and better ROI from solution investments as consumer products companies seek to engage with customers, partner and consumers even more along the path to purchase.

These topics mirror that virtuous cycle that is the path to purchase – Plan, Place, Purchase, Consume, Evaluate and Engage.  And, by sharing best practices and lessons learned along with future plans and strategies, each of the participants gained insights into how to attract and engage with consumers more effectively than ever before.

Related blogs:

http://scn.sap.com/community/consumer-products/blog/2012/04/24/from-diverse-perspectives-a-singular-focus-the-consumer

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