Wiki Spanish Food editorial team
The consumer packaged goods segment increased by 1.5% in terms of volume in 2015, according to data from the President of Nielsen España, Gustavo Núñez, at the event entitled "2016 Outlook for Consumer Packaged Goods", recently organized by the Spanish Association for Commercial Codification (AECOC), which comprises more than 26,000 companies in the sector.
For the first time since the start of the financial crisis, all of the main categories increased, although fresh products performed best, expanding by 3.1%.
In a much more optimistic socio-economic context—due to the increase in the consumer confidence index, which rose more than ten points this year—Núñez notes that the economic recovery will clearly continue in 2016.
However, there are habits acquired during the crisis that the consumer is going to maintain even after the crisis is over. That's the case in terms of the size and composition of general purchases which, during these tough economic times, have become more frequent and immediately replaced. Therefore, consumers have become divided: they look for deals, but they're also willing to pay more for a product with a distinguishing feature. The most highly-valued aspects, especially in terms of innovation, are health, convenience and trendiness. This is a notable generational change, as 18% of current buyers are Millennials, i.e. people born between 1981 and 1995.
According to Núñez, Spain is in a position to be a growth driver in Europe, although it's worth focusing especially on reinvigorating the concept of proximity, which is going to be one of the key drivers of growth. Ecommerce will also expand notably in the coming years, with a growth forecast of close to 5%, despite the fact that the consumer packaged goods sector has increased by 0.7 points this year, accounting for 0.1% in 2014 compared with 0.8% at the end of 2015.
In short, the recovery is expected to continue in 2016, with a special focus on updating the concept of proximity, especially in the fresh product category, which is the channel's growth driver. There's also a trend towards more customized promotions, with slight growth in private label products and a greater focus on categories, with more consumption moments. According to Núñez, ecommerce will indubitably be the main growth leader.
AECOC's in-depth study of the consumer in 2015
Xavier Cros, who heads AECOC's consumer analysis platform, Shopper View, offered a closer look at today's consumer, drawing on the conclusions of several of the association's analyses.
The most significant changes suggest that we shop more often and we go to more stores when shopping. As far as where we go, 94% of the time we visit the usual stores (hyper- and supermarkets) and store proximity is the main reason behind our decision, followed by price.
According to Cros, the crisis has directly impacted the way we shop, as 31% of shoppers no longer make one large purchase of essential items and instead make smaller weekly purchases of around 36 euros.
He also highlighted the notable potential of senior citizens in terms of consumption, as they comprise a strategic group for companies given their importance in the new population pyramid. AECOC conducted a study which confirms that senior citizens spend more than the rest of the population on mixed and fresh product purchases. They are also the group that most often uses the traditional channel, accounting for 21%, for all kinds of purchases. The report also reveals that people over 64 play an especially important role in aspects such as the weight of the purchase, the size of the products, customer service and changes in the order of products on store shelves, which they consider decisive.
Trends in distribution
Rosario Pedrosa, who's responsible for the demand division at AECOC, conducted an analysis of the challenges faced by the Spanish distribution sector at present and the most notable trends in other countries. Aspects such as innovation, the ease of the shopping experience, the way fresh products are cared for, good customer segmentation, proximity and ecommerce are priorities in 2016 for Spanish distribution companies.