CPG: the big trends for 2019


The Consumer Packaged Goods sector continues to experience major disruption, and many of the traditional players are under severe pressure. Will 2019 be the year in which major CPG companies bounce back? Here we look at some of the major trends we expect to see across the sector in 2019.

Growth of Gender-Neutral Beauty and Male Personal Care Products

While CPG companies have traditionally targeted women for beauty and grooming products and men for male-focused personal care products, such as hair loss prevention, focus on gender-neutral and men’s personal care and beauty products is on the rise. Brands that have been extending their advertising inclusivity to men include L’Oréal Paris, Rimmel London, Maybelline New York, MAC, ASOS Face+Body, and Calvin Klein.

In January 2019, Chanel launched ‘Boy de Chanel’, a new line of makeup for men, stating that “beauty is a matter of style, not gender”. NOTE Cosmetics, a US-based inclusive cosmetics company, is targeting its male makeup collection toward millennial business professionals looking for more beauty specific products.

On one hand, increased awareness and visibility is moving consumers away from gender stereotypes associated with fashion and beauty trends. On the other hand, companies are also offering and marketing male-focused products to alter the viewpoint on masculinity. A continued rise in direct-to-consumer male and gender-neutral personal care and beauty brands, and increase in marketing campaigns which focus on inclusivity, are expected in 2019. 

Digital Transformation: Big Data Analytics and AI

Digital technology is increasingly shaping and influencing customer behaviour, and has allowed CPG companies to engage with customers on a more personal level.

A study by McKinsey discovered that the companies who make decisions based on behavioural insight, experience 85% higher sales growth than their peers. For example, data analytics can determine the impact of different distribution channels on sales growth – such as impact of L’Oréal offering a recharging hydration hair kit only on Walmart, and Keurig offering a 24-pack of K-Cups on its website, with larger pack sizes on Amazon.

Use of artificial intelligence solutions such as chatbots, predictive forecasting, data analytics, and capacity planning can help businesses better target their audiences: from segmenting customers, personalising marketing messaging, and developing cross-sell and upsell strategies, to selecting profitable distribution channels, designing new products, and exploring new growth avenues.

 Trade promotions optimisation is a pivotal element of the CPG supply chain and to maximise ROI, 2019 will see companies increasingly leveraging machine learning and advanced analytics to tame large volumes of real-time data.

Focus on Health and Wellness

Rising consumer consciousness around health and wellness is increasing the need for products with natural and healthy attributes. As a result, CPG companies are continuously innovating their product portfolio with a focus on reduced sugar, low-carbs and high-protein, and products that enhance digestive health. 

In the UK, Mars is updating its classic Snickers bar to include 10 grams of protein and 30% less sugar, while Kellogg HI! (Happy Inside) is a 3-in-1 cereal that claims probiotics, pre-biotics, and fibres to help support digestive health.

Plant-based food products are also on the rise driven by an increase in vegetarian, vegan, and flexitarian diets – and this is a trend no CPG company can afford to ignore in 2019. 

Sustainability in Supply Chain Management and Packaging

Consumer demand for environment-friendly products and corporate focus on social responsibility are driving increased demand for transparency in the product supply chain. As a result, there is growing use of traceability systems, RFIDs (radio frequency identification), and NFCs (near-field communication) to automatically collect data at every stage of product formation, and ensure quality, safety and sustainability of end-products.

The CPG industry is started to make use of technologies such as Blockchain to revolutionise supply chain management, product traceability, and automated contracting.

A range of supply and demand-side factors are driving the adoption of bio plastic packaging by CPG companies: from consumer demand for environmentally safe packaging due to growing awareness about the consequences of climate change, to fossil fuel-based packaging price fluctuations and regulatory pressure to reduce packaging waste.

In April 2018, Unilever announced a partnership with Ioniqa, a Dutch startup, and Indorama Ventures, a PET producer, to develop the technology to convert PET waste back into virgin grade material for packaging.

In 2018, 42 UK businesses, accounting for >80% of the total plastic packaging consumption in products sold in supermarkets, agreed to make 100% of plastic packaging reusable, recycled or composted and eliminate single-use packaging by 2025.

Online and Omni-Channel Sales Strategy

Online sales in CPG are witnessing rampant growth led by continued consumer demand for choice and convenience. As a result, many CPG companies are increasingly turning to e-retailers, in addition to traditional sales channels.

For example, Adidas and Under Armour are selling shoes and clothing on Amazon, respectively, while retaining their bricks and mortar presence.

Strong market competition and focus on retaining customers has led CPG companies to establish an agile omni-channel supply chain to increase product distribution at a more cost-efficient rate. On one hand, CPG companies are continuing to partner with retailers to sell their products through both online and offline channels. On the other hand, to establish connections and build relationships with customers, CPG companies also increasingly prefer to sell directly to customers (DTC). We expect to see more of the leading players advancing their strategies in this area in 2019.


With additional research by Anisha Bhawnani and Deepanshu Bansal.

Rashi Singh

Rashi Singh

In her eleven years with The Smart Cube, Rashi has risen through the ranks from a research analyst to Senior Manager. Leading a team of 30 people, she is responsible for the end-to-end delivery of projects for clients in the CPG sector. An economics graduate, Rashi is an in-house expert in the F&B and FMCG space, especially on the procurement, supply chain and strategy side. When Rashi is not providing market intelligence to clients, she loves to spend her time doing kathak, a form of Indian classical dance.

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