THE ECR EFFECT: Who can the consumer goods industry still learn from?

With “Exciting Consumer Realities”, the term ECR was given a new light at the ECR Austria Information Day 2017. Interesting insights into innovative concepts far away from the FMCG industry were presented on stage.

pic 1“The customer is king” a founding guiding principle of almost all companies  is seeing a resurgence these days under the term “Customer Centricity “. But is putting the customer at the center of your organisation not just “Old hat“? No, because the consistent orientation of a company on its customers has reached a new dimension. Interested parties and buyers today are more informed than ever and have the power to influence markets like never before. Thus, they can now demand what they have been promised for years: really to be the king!

This requires companies to have a 360-degree view of their customers and aggregate data from multiple touchpoints  that a customer comes into contact with. The potential for innovative concepts to bring the customer even closer, thus becomes almost immeasurable. How well this potential is already being used, especially outside the consumer goods sector, was at the heart at this year’s ECR Austria Info Day which invited to a “look beyond the horizon”. After all, “Who else should we learn from, if not from other sectors?”, said Martin Gleiss, Head of Group Logistics at SPAR Austria, on the panel discussion.pic 2

Make shopping an experience – McDonald’s Austria has set itself the goal of offering its customers “365 days of Exciting Consumer Realities”, which has so far been a great success. The bonus club “myMcDonald’s”, launched previous year, registers 100,000 active users every day, every ninth Austrian is already a member of the program, and half of McDonald’s growth alone is generated from it. “The ‘myMcDonald’s-App’ enables a targeted activation of the customer, ‘1FitsYou’ is outdated for us,” explains McDonald’s Marketing Director Jörg Pizzera in his rousing speech. “This customization not only increases the fun factor for the consumer, but also makes him spend more. A good reason why the guest will determine the marketing plan in the future, “says Pizzera.

Austria’s most popular Swede IKEA also pursues a philosophy to make life easier and better for its customers. For the furniture giant in particular, two concepts are the most obvious ones: On one hand “speed” –  time saving has an ever higher priority in the purchase decision – and on the other hand “agility” in order to better meet changing and unpredictable customer requirements and to be able to react to market conditions. “We see technology as an enabler, but not a means to an end“ explains Sebastian Knisch, Multichannel Program Manager at IKEA Austria. Technology is already being used successfully at IKEA when it comes to connecting the digital and offline world: A Virtual Reality application allows the consumer, for example, a virtual tour of a show room with individual design options. pic 3

Talking new technologies, the Bründl sports group see themselves more as a “crocodile in the mountains than in a shark tank” and offers unique experience worlds in its stores – so-called “magic moments”. These start from in-house bars and children’s cinemas to a polar station where functional clothing can be tested by the customer on site. As a unique selling point, Bründl almost exclusively emphasizes the sales person in the shop: “They have to be on fire!”

A lot more technology is used in the automotive industry, where terms like “just in time” and “just in sequence” are omnipresent. Things like machine learning, collaborative robots or 3D printing are already used successfully, which was impressively demonstrated at the ECR Austria Info Day by Jasser Khodai, CEO of handschlag 1.0, and Sandra Slavinec, CEO of charismaTec.

Thinking outside the box in the panel discussion led by ZIB2-Anchorman Armin Wolf, the FMCG experts asked themselves: “What can the consumer goods industry learn from other sectors?” Many things! was unanimously their view. Arno Wohlfahrter, CEO of METRO Austria, explained that “at the end of the day, it’s all about the customer claiming my product”. Harald Melwisch, Chief Digital Officer at Unilever Austria, sees the greatest potential “in merging data from trade and industry. That would make us more powerful than Amazon”.

According to ECR Austria Manager Teresa Mischek-Moritz, the future work of ECR Austria is increasingly going to be determined by the question: “How can we get even closer to the customer?” A look beyond one’s own nose is definitely worthwhile.

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