I recently attended the inaugural Grocery Shop conference. It was a collection of 2200 retail-minded colleagues from a broad range of Retailers, CPG, and Technology companies discussing the rapid changes around how global consumers discover and procure consumable products.  Since it was so insightful, I’d like to share a few of my top take-aways from the conference.

Consumers’ expectations for how they learn about, try and purchase products is that discovery should occur in a way without undue effort on the part of the shopper.  Technology companies are working hard to make this a reality and retailers and product companies must be prepared to have a play-to-win strategy that aligns to this new reality. A great way to bring this concept to life is the phrase “route to me” - which said another way means: treat me as a unique individual and not as a cohort when suggesting exciting new products.

“Route to me” gives the principal of consumer-centric a deeper meaning and raises the bar for how brands build loyalty. Cutting edge digitally-native brands and retailers are starting to deliver this experience, and within this new paradgim the major takeaways are A) big-data rules, and B) retailers (i.e., anywhere that consumers shop) hold the keys. Deloitte Consulting went as far as to declare the need for a new playbook on CPG/ Retailer relationships because their research found that 89% of retailers have limited confidence in CPG company’s digital capabilities to connect with their consumer.

I also walked away with a clear understanding that brand loyalty will be increasingly be valued on the relevance of content and context in addition to product and packaging. This means that before new brands are launched, innovation teams must allow their ideating efforts and concept tests to be filled with rich content development for the myriad of consumer touch points that will ultimately personalize the brand to “routed” shoppers. Where speed to market was the playbook of the last decade, any speedy execution without a thoughtful brand equity plan, including a rich and personalized brand-consumer relationship story, will likely be a mistake. And in this new world want intense personalization, test and learn models, including direct response marketing, will only increase in importance.