How Winning Consumer Products Companies Master The Killer Crossover

Colby Sheridan

Part 1 of the “Consumer Products and the Crossover Effect” series

In basketball, the unpredictable precision of a killer crossover move can change the momentum of even the most competitive matchups. This is the moment when the player obscures where the ball will go next by rapidly yo-yoing it back and forth from hand to hand. The defender must rely on guesswork and gut instinct to counter this suspenseful, hypnotic strategy – only to end up moving in the wrong direction and leaving the shooter with a clear path to the basket.

Nothing beats a game-shifting move that stuns the competition and pushes their limits – including in the consumer products industry. Adidas is turning around personalized fashion quickly with a digital factory business model. Amazon is making next-generation artificial intelligence an everyday home appliance with its line of Alexa and Echo digital assistants. Even Lego is turning an 86-year-old building toy into an opportunity to teach coding skills to young children.

How do these consumer products companies stay on top? They consistently innovate consumer experiences that are not only engaging and unified across all sales, marketing, and commerce channels, but also responsive to consumers’ desire for outcomes.

Three strategic priorities for competitive consumer products leadership

There are many different ways to tackle the ever-evolving consumer products market with crossover strategies. Some businesses are developing direct-to-consumer channels to build deep, enduring buyer relationships and stave off startups as well as larger, established brands. Others are balancing traditional go-to-market plays with a strategic set of e-commerce partners. And a number of innovators are cultivating entirely new business models that address the consumer desires and goals of the moment.

But no matter how they tackle this ever-evolving game, consumer products businesses must incorporate newer, bolder, and game-winning crossover strategies that cover three critical priorities for market dominance.

1. Creating and supporting groundbreaking business models

Product delivery excellence is no longer the single winning strategy among winning consumer products brands. Companies must now sense opportunities in real time, including the possibility of crossing over or partnering with new market categories, personalizing buyer interactions, and serving segments of one.

As industry and category boundaries continue to blur across online and brick-and-mortar channels, the battle for controlling the point of sale, shaping favorable consumer trends, and launching private labels is all wrapped around the intelligent use of data. Intelligent technologies such as augmented reality and machine learning are helping brands adapt and engage consumers with greater confidence, agility, and speed. But it’s not engagement in a transactional sense; deeper consumer relationships help spawn innovation that can help set off a massive disruption across the entire marketplace.

2. Delivering personalized outcomes that delight retailers and consumers

To perform well in an evolving marketplace, consumer product companies need to engage, inform, and convince consumers by providing the right solution and promised outcomes that meet their needs. Proliferating channels and seemingly unlimited access to information provide consumers with innumerable new opportunities to engage with brands over the course of a given day. However, the high rate of cart abandonment, brand switching, and frustration with generic shopping experiences are signs that there is still much work to be done.

Companies that understand how to deliver personalized outcomes with intelligent technology are the ones that are differentiating themselves with a combination of products, consumer experience, and continuous engagement.

3. Competing as a complete network

The pressure to accelerate business growth is so intense that traditional strategies – such as significant cost reduction, manufacturing excellence, and zero-based budgeting programs – are beginning to show signs of diminishing returns.

Earning consumer attention now requires the capacity to serve people and organizations with relevance that is clear and timely. Consumer products companies need to rapidly transform with speed and agility across all channels and execute consistent outcomes in all interactions by understanding market demand and purchasing behaviors with data-driven clarity and insight.

The art of the consumer products crossover

Any moment a player can break away from the competition is an opportunity for delivering a product, service, or shopping experience that no one else can match. However, the relevance of these consumer products companies is only as strong as their ability to pivot to meet consumer demand and seize emerging opportunities and risks. They must quickly adapt, innovate, and differentiate their brands to keep their options open while disguising future intent and exposing the weaknesses of their opponents.

By keeping their strategic options open and flexible as new opportunities emerge and business needs change, consumer products companies can better position themselves to make their next big play while keeping their rivals off-balance.

Get your consumer products business on a trajectory of accelerated growth without tipping off your competitors. Read our industry point of view “The Crossover Effect: Positioning Consumer Products Companies on the Growth Path.”

Follow this series by bookmarking the series landing page “Consumer Products and the Crossover Effect” and checking it next Monday for the latest insights.


Colby Sheridan

About Colby Sheridan

Colby Sheridan is the Global Director of Sales and Trade Management Solutions, Consumer Products at SAP. He leads the team that is revolutionizing the trade management process. His solution enables CP manufacturers to take a collaborative business planning approach with their retailers like never before, through the efficient creation of customer-specific plans aimed at driving profitable growth.