"Over the last several years, small consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies in the U.S. have steadily gained market share at the expense of larger competitors. This has been true across a broad range of CPG companies and categories. What’s more, upstarts often price their products at a premium. Booz & Company recently completed an analysis of the top 25 food and beverage categories and found that small players (those with sales of less than US$1 billion) are outperforming the competition in 18 of the top 25 categories, including the largest ones.
Several broad forces, most of them peculiar to our times, are combining to create advantageous conditions for small companies. For starters, consumers are demanding broader selection. “Selectionists,” who comprise 30 percent of the consumer market, seek greater variety and new tastes—and sometimes care deeply about other factors such as the origins of the food and how far it has been shipped. Selectionists have a stronger interest in local, boutique foods and beverages. Some traditional supermarkets are catering to this trend as a way to differentiate themselves from Walmart and other big price clubs. It’s difficult for traditional supermarkets to compete on price, but they can compete by offering a wider assortment of products, which, in turn, creates further opportunities for niche manufacturers.
Several other important factors in the rise of small CPG players are linked to technology. The fragmentation of media and the generally lower cost of digital platforms give small players new outlets to reach customers in more targeted, cost-efficient ways. But what should concern large players the most is how technology is eroding their scale-driven advantages. Small players are increasingly able to outsource invoicing, HR systems, and logistics, as well as other back-office SG&A functions.
Retail consolidation is further chipping away at scale advantage. The preference among bigger retailers is to work with a broad range of manufacturers—both large and small—to keep large CPG companies from gaining too much leverage.
From 2009 to 2012, small food and beverage manufacturers grew revenue about three times faster than the rate of the overall category. In the packaged food category specifically, small players experienced a three-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.2 percent, and gained 1.7 percent of market share. Meanwhile, large players increased sales by just 1.6 percent CAGR and saw market share decline 0.7 percent. In the beverage category, the results were similar. Small companies saw a three-year CAGR of 4.4 percent, compared to just 0.1 percent among large companies. Small companies saw their market share rise 0.8 percent while large companies’ market share dropped 2.5 percent. This outperformance occurred even in some of the largest, most consolidated categories, such as bakery, dairy, snacks, and ready meals (see Exhibit 1).
along with market share gains, small players enjoyed price premiums in many categories. A survey of in-store pricing found that Godiva chocolate cost 138 percent more than the Hershey’s product of comparable size and flavor, Cape Cod potato chips cost 24 percent more than Lay’s, and Amy’s Kitchen soups cost 58 percent more than Campbell’s. Small players also showed pricing strength over private-label manufacturers. From 2011 to 2012, the price premium for small players over private labels jumped 5 percent for butter, olive oil, and packaged/industrial bread.
Small players don’t have a single or consistent approach across all categories to account for their success. They are using a variety of strategies that incorporate brand positioning, pricing, market entry, innovation, route to market, and in-store marketing and merchandising. Within these categories, each carves out distinct positions depending on the product and competitive environment. The overall effect is a patchwork of bespoke strategies. That means one needs to look harder for the lessons—but they are there."
Trechos retirados de "Good Things Come in Small Packages"