After selling their products through retailers for most of the last century, consumer packaged goods firms are finding other ways to reach consumers. New direct routes to market, with a wide spectrum of approaches, are helping companies put the consumer back at the heart of their strategies.
Many are diving in, but they are about to face new, sometimes unexpected, challenges. The process of selling directly to – and reconnecting with – consumers is a subtle, complex one, as testified by numerous failures and half-successes. However, it is possible to assess the challenges through strategic and operational lenses, figure out the challenges, and find ways to overcome them. Firms must be realistic about their current capabilities – those it will need to build and the changes in operations this implies. They must be prepared for the wide-ranging transformation, as only those firms that realize the scope of the changes needed will be successful and claim the big prizes out there.