AWS for Industries

The world has changed. But the consumer is still your boss.

You’ve probably heard of the old adage “The consumer is boss.” It was coined in a Fortune magazine article written 10 years ago by A.G. Lafley, Procter & Gamble’s legendary CEO.

Although the world has changed a lot since then, Lafley’s words ring just as true today. The consumer still runs the show in a major way. In fact, your “boss” is “bossier” than ever before: Consumers have vastly more control over your business now. In large part that’s because they have more choices of products to buy, far more places to purchase them, and even more ways to get the goods delivered, when and where they want them.

If anything, the pandemic has accelerated this shift in consumer sentiment and buying patterns. And CPG companies are rushing to please the new, more demanding boss. Here are a few ways you can keep them happy and drive profitable growth in the process.

Get to know your boss—again

Do you really know your boss? For many consumers, it’s no longer about whether your product merely works as advertised. It’s about their emotional connection to your product. And, more often than not, it’s about their shopping experience: Was it fast, convenient, and even pleasurable?

It pays to find out. Many consumers now value convenience and availability over brand loyalty with roughly 45% of US consumers permanently switching brands or ditching their tried and true retailers due to lack of product availability. Some consumers want your products—and even your company as a whole—to align with their favorite social or environmental movement. By staying in tune with their preference for everything from low-carbon emissions to fair labor practices, you can reap rewards over the long run.

AWS is helping companies get to know consumers better with advanced analytics that mine mountains of data in seconds to understand what’s driving consumer tastes. In Australia, Nestlé is using AWS IoT Analytics and Apache Solr to connect hundreds of data points in the cloud, thereby helping consumers figure out the most nutritious meal plans for their pets young and old.

Get personal

It’s time to make your boss feel special. A recent study shows that consumers are willing to pay a 20% premium on personalized products or services. The good news is there are plenty of tools out there to help you serve up individualized product recommendations on the spot. Amazon Personalize, for example, integrates an AI-powered recommendation algorithm into almost every part of the purchasing process, from product discovery to checkout.

Domino’s Pizza has embraced this opportunity in a big way. It’s using Amazon Personalize to “apply context about individual customers and their circumstances to each order,” says Domino’s Chief Marketing Officer. He says this is helping the pizza company deliver customized communications and special deals through its digital channels.

Go direct to the consumer

Consumer brands are scrambling to keep pace with post-pandemic consumer buying habits. Direct to consumer (DTC) is one area where consumers made a rapid shift in their shopping behaviors, forcing brands to quickly pivot to build new online selling sites that could serve consumers directly.

Online shoppers, especially millennials, are attracted to streamlined DTC shopping experiences. CPG companies now use DTC to pilot new product offerings, build direct relationships with consumers, and grow new revenue streams. Dollar Shave Club, a leading DTC company, is growing its business by creating a data lake featuring Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) and Amazon Redshift to query terabytes of data at lightning speed for advanced analytics and intelligent insights.

Get more efficient at scale

Your boss has become a penny-pincher. According to a recent survey, 54% of consumers said they are more cost conscious than before the pandemic, and 29% of shoppers increased purchases of budget brands. You must drive cost efficiencies and economies of scale in your manufacturing process to protect margins. The most innovative companies are reengineering their supply chain to be more flexible and scalable, thereby enabling more product personalization at scale. Companies must optimize to drive out inefficiency, reduce overhead costs, and create value for consumers.

One of the complexities of the new digital channel is the high cost of last-mile delivery. Companies are striving to optimize their supply chain networks to meet demand. Amazon’s new state-of-the-art fulfillment centers are reinventing how companies receive, store, pick, and ship merchandise, achieving unprecedented efficiencies as they replace traditional distribution center models based on pallets to individualized customer packages.

Tune in to social media

Thanks to the power of social media, consumers can tell the world what they think about your product with the click of button. And shoppers are writing more reviews than ever. In a recent survey, they submitted 11% more reviews year over year.

Negative reviews can easily damage your brand, especially when other reviewers pile on. The lesson for consumer brands is to stay on top of social media to short-circuit a viral spread that could land your brand in hot water. Social media can also be your ally in time of need. Chick-fil-A, America’s third-largest fast-food chain, uses AI natural language capabilities found in Amazon Comprehend to quickly sort through social media data to spot potential food safety issues before they can cause harm.

Turbocharge the buying experience

More than just your product, a delightful buying experience can help win over your new boss. But if your website is slow and clunky, chances are he won’t stick around. “It’s not just enough to say you’re focusing on the customer. You have to be focused on the customer’s experience,” says the Chief Transformation Officer at Nu Skin, a leader in direct-selling anti-aging product. In recent years, the company has significantly improved that experience by leveraging applications on AWS and deploying Amazon Forecast to turn data into actionable insights.

Connecting your different touchpoints with consumers can add a new dimension to their experiences. For example, when they sign on to your mobile site, you could leverage insights from their visit to your physical store to help you clinch a mobile sale. A speedy checkout process will also make paying for things more satisfying. Tools like Amazon Pay can help CPG companies ease the payment process by making it less painful to fill out forms and easier to get on with life.

Read Six Ways to Keep Your Boss (The Consumer) Happy in Consumer Goods Technology to learn more about how AWS and its customers are working together to transform the consumer experience. And, if you’re ready to enhance your consumer experience, AWS is here to help. Contact your AWS account team today to get started.

David Ahuja

David Ahuja

David Ahuja leads AWS’s Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) industry strategy and is responsible for developing CPG industry solutions that enable customers to accelerate innovation to achieve their business goals. He helps CPG customers automate manufacturing processes, optimize supply chains, and transform consumer engagements. David brings 30+ years of CPG and retail experience and has led global merchandising and supply chain analytics for Walmart Labs. He also spent 23 years at Procter & Gamble where he led business transformation in marketing & sales and data & analytics across the US and Latin America. David earned his bachelor’s degree in Information Systems from the University of Cincinnati and his MBA from Loyola of Maryland. He is originally from Belize, Central America and now lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas.