Struggles and Solutions for FMCG Companies in the Pandemic

The global pandemic has had a significant impact on every industry, particularly those that are FMCG (Fast-moving consumer goods) companies. The pandemic has caused many consumers to change their spending habits, opting for cheaper alternatives instead of more expensive brands. As a result, some FMCG companies have seen considerable decreases in sales due to this behavior shift. 

The consumer goods industry is struggling with a number of challenges nowadays:

  • Competitive pressure is high because its markets are fairly saturated.
  • Customers are reacting to this abundance in a price-sensitive way.
  • Because private labels are pushing into the markets, the pressure on manufacturer brands to innovate is increasing.

Another problem is that consumers perceive the range of consumer goods as homogeneous and therefore interchangeable. Thus, the consumer goods market has the highest perceived brand uniformity compared to other sectors.  

Stagnation due to disrupted supply chains

For some items, such as toilet paper and flour, supply chains have been completely sucked dry. Stocks, which are usually enough to cushion fluctuations in sales, were also gone. What is now being newly produced is being sold off again directly – even if this has hardly anything to do with actual demand. People stock up on everything, also oral hygiene products. 

In ordinary situations, consumers purchased fast-moving consumer goods when needed. The pandemic caused people to start buying these goods in bulk and store them for future use. This sudden shortage of goods put pressure on the entire FMCG industry, many found it hard to cope with the sudden increase in sales.

Most FMCG companies relied on getting raw material from the international market, which caused stagnation and halts in production. Many companies have already started restructuring their supply chain. If the state is in lockdown again, the industry maintains its supply chain and prevents manufacturing stagnation.

Mental health issues due to isolation 

The effects of the pandemic are not only felt in the sales figures, delivery difficulties or lack of digitalization – many employees suffer greatly from mental health issues due to the current isolation. Also, the increased demand of such products can lead to problems such as burnout, here it is important as an FMCG company to invest in good HR power to guarantee suitable solutions for the mental and physical health of employees in the long term. 

Food retailers had a special boom for weeks as many people built up extra stock at home. Parallel to this, demand is shifting away from bulk supply in canteens or restaurants to retailers, as many companies and restaurants are still closed. Even though this does not change the total amount consumed: Food out of Home is declining massively which led to financial loss for many companies, which then relied on government aid and funding options. Food-related FMCG products such as cosmetics, toiletries, etc. are experiencing high demand. However, some sales channels have been closed due to the crisis, which in turn may lead to relocation effects. 

Digitalization is more important than ever 

A consumer survey on the topic of FMCG focused on a company's touchpoints with its customers on various channels. What becomes clear is: In the Awareness and Information phases, customers primarily use the brand website to obtain information. In the consideration phase, however, independent test reports are preferred, and the purchase itself is then made on retailers' websites. 

In the after-sales phase, however, the brand's website regains importance again: this is where inquiries are made to customer service when customers need support. The results show that cooperation between dealers and manufacturers is and remains essential. Both sides would benefit from sharing information and data about target groups. Not to be forgotten: The aforementioned, digital channels tend to reach a younger generation under 40, while older customers still use traditional contact and information options. 

Top trend: sustainability and health 

It's a trend that's been a long time in the making but has picked up speed once again due to the pandemic: Consumers are placing more and more value on sustainable products, regional sourcing of goods, and healthier lifestyles. Retailers are responding to this trend by increasingly listing products that meet these demands – other products inevitably have to make way for them and make room on the shelves. For the marketing of these consumer goods, this means: These topics need to be highlighted. 

Tip: Show consumers where the products come from and what impact they have on the environment. And here too, listen to your customers, actively include their wishes and needs in product developments, and also work closely with retailers, as they are naturally often closer to the customer. 

How FMCG companies responded in the short-term to the consequences of the pandemic

  1. Flexible staff scheduling due to employees' absence caused by illness, and higher protection standards and safety margins. Many producers have to cancel shifts, while others operate on a rotating basis.
  2. Ensuring the availability of sufficient logistics capacity. Many producers have problems transporting their goods to the retail distribution centers on time and in sometimes increased quantities under appropriate conditions.
  3. Supply chain management: goods are rescheduled at short notice. Time and again, dependencies on individual ingredients or parts arise that block entire production processes and have to be resolved ad hoc to avoid a production standstill. In the non-food area, goods are canceled, returned, and talks are held with suppliers in order to negotiate other conditions and acceptance periods.

Summary

After the crisis, there will be a substantial reorganization of supply chains. This cannot be done in the short term. Here are the essential elements, as far as they are already visible today:

  • Dual or multiple sourcing instead of single sourcing – procurement will be broadened. There will also be a shortening of supply chains. 
  • FMCG companies need to focus on their employees' mental health in order to keep up with the changing demand for their products
  • The increased build-up of safety stocks of critical precursors, especially for raw materials and goods that are only found in a few regions of the world.
  • Making it as easy as possible for consumers to gather all the information they need is essential to company success in the future. 
  • The issue of sustainability should be considered in its entirety. For a world population that will exceed the 10 billion mark in a few decades, companies will need new utilization concepts for existing resources. Ideally, these will be implemented in combination via a merging of sustainability approaches and restructuring of supply chains.

Sources:

https://cnr.ncsu.edu/news/2020/05/coronavirus-toilet-paper-shortage/

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/cons-products/fmcg/fmcg-firms-moving-fast-to-restock-stores/articleshow/74765042.cms?from=mdr

https://www.mckinsey.com/about-us/covid-response-center/response-tools/for-business-leaders/rethinking-the-consumer-goods-supply-chain-in-response-to-covid-19

https://www.forbes.com/sites/nazbeheshti/2021/04/15/the-pandemic-has-created-a-new-kind-of-burnout-which-makes-well-being-more-critical-than-ever/?fbclid=IwAR3FQ8bIf75WgHO0IYqQzyvfoSq8OY8eVW0tv8VU07i_dzXeUahuORzHHEA

https://www.kantar.com/inspiration/consumer/covid-19-led-to-$22-billion-fall-in-out-of-home-sales

https://www.euromonitor.com/the-impact-of-coronavirus-on-beauty-and-personal-care/report

https://www2.deloitte.com/si/en/pages/strategy-operations/articles/changing-consumer-digital-marketing-impact-Covid-19.html

https://www.bbc.com/news/business-55630144


How To Naturally Whiten Your Teeth

It's not a secret that many people have stained teeth. Whether it is due to coffee, tea, smoking or aging, there are many factors that can lead to teeth discoloration. But whitening your teeth by a professional can be quite sumptuous, and sometimes it's not even possible to whiten the teeth because there is no strong enamel which is essential for this procedure.

So, in order to help you, Nordics have compiled a list of the 4 ways how you can naturally whiten your teeth:

  • Decrease your sugar intake

Sugar per se is not directly bad for the teeth. However, the sugar in the oral cavity is consumed by the bacteria of the normal flora, and lactic acid is formed in the process. The lactic acid damages the surface of the teeth, the enamel is attacked and loses minerals. Furthermore, the lactic acid leads to a lowering of the pH value in the oral cavity and thus damages your mouth flora – this normally defends the oral cavity from pathogenic bacteria. If it is damaged, caries and other pathogenic bacteria have an easy go. The less sugar you consume, the less lactic acid is produced, and the less chance of caries and the healthier the oral cavity.

It makes sense to not completely exclude but limit the consumption of sugary foods and thus not constantly expose your teeth to sugar or lactic acid. Furthermore, it would be good to wait about half an hour after consuming sugar and then brush your teeth with a soft toothbrush to rid the oral cavity of the lactic acid and the remaining sugar as far as possible.

  • Fruits that brighten your teeth  

Do you know that tingling feeling on your tongue and lips when you eat pineapple? This is triggered by the enzyme bromelian contained in the fruit. It breaks down proteins – and that even noticeably. Pineapple not only supports digestion and has an anti-inflammatory effect, but it also helps you to have whiter teeth. Plaque, which is deposited on your teeth and causes discoloration, consists of proteins. Pineapple enzymes help break down these plaque proteins. In this way, the fruit counteracts unsightly stains.

With strawberries, however, you can even really damage the teeth from the outside. You have to imagine that teeth are made of hydroxyapatite. This is the hardest tissue we have in the body. And if you apply acids to it, calcium and phosphate can dissolve out of this coating. This makes the surface rougher, and the tooth is no longer as stable. So the claim, that strawberries naturally whiten your teeth is something you should better keep your hands off, there is no proof that this method really works. 

  • Floss like a boss

Daily flossing is essential for healthy and white teeth. Although brushing is important for good oral hygiene, brushing alone cannot protect you from gum problems and tooth loss.

About 40 % of the tooth surface lies between the teeth. For larger gaps, there are interdental brushes. Together with a mouthwash (for example our soothing mint mouthwash, which dissolves plaque bacteria), the procedure takes about a minute – but is guaranteed to save an hour-long visit to the dentist. If you consistently floss your teeth, you will soon see a positive effect on the coloring of your teeth, and also have an overall better oral hygiene. 

  • Activated charcoal & baking soda 

Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, consists of a chemical compound that makes it a very mild abrasive. Its abrasive properties can remove stains from your teeth and make them appear whiter. However, if you want to remove deeper, older stains, baking soda is not as effective. With constant use, you can even damage the enamel.

Active charcoal is also often recommended for teeth whitening. In the short term, it removes impurities from the teeth, because the grains of the charcoal acts as an abrasive paper that scrubs discoloration from your teeth. After repeated use, this can actually make your teeth brighter.

However, compared to conventional toothpaste, activated charcoal has a much higher abrasiveness, similar to baking soda. Since the powder abrades the enamel and roughens the teeth in the long term, its use is not yet considered recommendable. The teeth become susceptible to caries. The roughening of the tooth surface also makes it easier for plaque and color pigments to adhere. If you want to use activated charcoal safely, we recommend using toothpaste with the ingredient in it (for example our organic whitening charcoal toothpaste). 

Summary 

In order to naturally whiten your teeth, you can do the following: 

  • Decrease your sugar consumption and adjust your diet 
  • Eat more fruits 
  • Include flossing in your daily oral hygiene routine
  • Use toothpaste with activated charcoal in it 

The Post Pandemic Future of Retail

Retailers are doing their best to adapt to the changes of a pandemic. However, there is no clear answer as to what will happen in the future. Will we be able to shop at stores? Will people want to go out and buy things if they have very little time left on Earth? What do consumers want?

Consumers still want to touch and see products before making a purchase decision. They also like the idea of getting personalized customer service in person as well as having access to more than just an eCommerce site's offerings. The future of retail might not necessarily have physical storefronts – but it does mean that retailers need to adapt and change with consumer demand or they may find themselves in dire straits sooner rather than later.

Online shopping has changed forever

Over the past few decades, online shopping has grown from a non-existent industry to one worth billion. Buying online has become a common practice for millions of people around the world. Recently, the number of people buying goods and services online has increased more than ever before. Personal care & cosmetics products saw an increase in online orders, especially in countries like Switzerland and Germany. 

63 % of shopping occasions begin online. To keep up with the changes, brands need to offer an online + offline shopping experience. This means that regardless of where customers ultimately make the purchase, their customer journey begins online. In most cases, this is on Google or Amazon, where they do their research. This is also why it's critical for brands to have a strong online presence. By improving the customer experience from the very first step, companies have a higher chance of getting customers to buy from their store. 

Digitalization for in-store shopping experiences

The pandemic has accelerated existing trends in the shopping behavior of European consumers. This is particularly evident in the shift from offline to online: 50 percent of European city dwellers now shop less in bricks-and-mortar retail than before the onset of the crisis. The clear beneficiary is online retail, which posted double-digit growth in the second quarter of 2020. 

But brick-and-mortar retailers can also do a lot to bring customers back into stores and give them a pleasant and, above all, secure shopping experience. Even before the onset of the crisis, European customers valued technology in physical stores. One of the most important innovations to improve the customer experience is automatic checkout, which 34 percent of European consumers approve of. In second place among the popular store, technologies is the sending of personalized offers to the customer's smartphone as soon as they enter the store.

Digital labels will also become increasingly essential. People want to shop as contactless as possible. Businesses are moving towards using QR codes or tags to quickly add items to people’s carts. 

Showrooms & smaller retail outlets 

For brands, it is now more important than ever to stand out and convince with their digital storytelling: In virtual showrooms, brands can provide the infrastructure for 360-degree images and videos, shop-the-look features, and collection boards where brands can showcase their best sellers, for example. Smaller outlets are also a way to show customers that they can shop safely. These tools set them apart from the competition.

The best price wins – price competition increased

The reason for the financial losses is most likely to be that working hours have been reduced for those affected. This, together with time off, unpaid leave, or even termination, affects 46 % of people for whom the economic situation has deteriorated in the short term. In relation to the population as a whole, only 22 % report shorter working hours, time off, and dismissal.

As many people have less money, they will most likely lookup for the best deal – this results in price competition for many products, and forces brands to act.

Summary

In order to keep up with the rapid changes in retail, brands should focus on the following:

  • Offer a great online shopping experience, even if the purchase happens offline
  • In-store shopping experiences need to be digitalized in order to need customers' needs for contactless shopping
  • Digital showrooms and smaller outlets are preferred over big retail spaces
  • Customers will compare pricing online before they buy

 

Sources:

https://unctad.org/news/covid-19-has-changed-online-shopping-forever-survey-shows

https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/consumer-insights/consumer-trends/trending-data-shorts/

https://www.pwc.de/en/retail-and-consumer/european-consumer-insights-series-2020-new-normal.html

https://www.vendhq.com/blog/contactless-shopping/

https://www.bloomreach.com/en/resources/whitepapers/state-of-commerce-experience-study.html?utm_source=us-media&utm_medium=referral-&utm_campaign=soce-report&utm_content=landing-page-

https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2021/03/05/a-year-into-the-pandemic-long-term-financial-impact-weighs-heavily-on-many-americans/


10 Tips And Tricks On Sustainability In Your Office

While often associated with sustainability, going “zero waste” or at least “low waste” doesn’t just benefit the environment - it also saves money, especially in the long run. As The Green Economy Coalition (a non-profit organization) notes, green buildings don’t just save money for owners and occupants, but also spur job creation and bring businesses and communities together.

If you’re thinking about making a switch to a greener business, these 10 small but meaningful ways will help get you started.

1. Turn off screensavers

Contrary to their name, screensavers do not save energy - they actually use more energy to keep the display on and play the animation on the screen. The best and most eco-friendly way to protect a screen that is not being used is to simply switch it off.

2. Buy Second-Hand

From office furniture to office supplies, buying second-hand is a sure way towards a greener office. Not only is second-hand office material and furniture a great way to get the most value for your money, it's also a great way to reduce the volume of materials used to manufacture new products, therefore reducing the number of raw materials and energy used to create a new product.

3. Use natural lighting

According to the World Green Building Council report, people exposed to natural daylight have a 15% higher production rate. Aside from positively affecting the body’s circadian rhythm and vitamin D absorption, natural lighting can also help you reduce energy consumption and utility bill costs.

4. Go paperless whenever you can

Paper is a resource that's easy to overuse - huge amounts of paper get tossed in the trash every day. Virtually every company is able to save money by going paperless. Whatever you need - whether it’s a monthly report, a client contract, or an info sheet - most of it can be done, sent, and stored digitally.

5. When you can’t - use recycled paper for printing

There are instances when you simply need something on paper. In case you can’t skip paper, make sure to use recycled paper instead. When it comes to paper use, recycled paper is the greenest option because it uses fewer resources and leaves a smaller carbon footprint than the manufacturing of regular paper.  

6. Invest in reusable silverware

Plastic utensils are simply terrible for the environment. People rarely think about where all those plastic forks and knives that you throw away after a company celebration end up. Most of them are not recyclable or made from recycled material. Switching to regular silverware is a great way to eliminate plastic cutlery altogether.

7. Eliminate paper towels

You are not using a paper towel at home, are you? Whether in the kitchen or in the bathroom, you can easily replace paper towels with cloth towels and microfiber cleaning cloths. Also, consider bringing your own hand towel for hand drying every day.

8. Bring your own coffee mug

Whether you’re using an espresso machine or a French press, bringing your own reusable bottle or coffee mug to work is one of the simplest and most effective eco-initiatives you can take.

9. Use compostable plates and cups for company birthdays and promotions

Luckily, today there are plenty of affordable compostable or recyclable plates and glasses that come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Whether you’re celebrating birthdays or promotions, you can always avoid buying plastic single-use cups and plates.

10. Use pencils instead of pens 

Pencils are considerably friendlier to the environment than pens. Unlike a pen, a pencil is made of wood, which is a renewable resource. And unlike a pen, a pencil can be re-used and re-sharpened, leaving just biodegradable waste, which means less plastic and disposable parts being generated.

Many offices have implemented initiatives to become sustainable and cut down on waste. But it's not always easy to know where to start, especially if your office isn't exactly the eco-friendly type. We hope this list helps you get some ideas on how to go zero waste in your own office, whether you're an office manager, a business owner, or simply someone who wants to make a change for the better.

Do your office colleagues practice any of these economical and eco-friendly ways to cut waste and energy consumption? Which ones would you like to incorporate in your office and why?