The FMCG industry is undergoing a significant transformation in response to the demand for more convenience, the COVID-19 pandemic, and changes in customer behavior. The major FMCG industry trends that address these changes involve sustainable solutions for product development and packaging, improving customer experience, and implementing digitalization. To offer better experiences to their customers and gain a competitive edge, FMCG companies seek omnichannel sales and e-commerce in addition to deploying big data analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions, among others. The Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and devices and 3D Printing technology further enable FMCG companies to focus on direct distribution to meet the growing customer expectations.
Innovation Map: Top 10 FMCG Industry Trends & Innovations
Covering more than 1.379.000 startups & scaleups, we use our proprietary StartUs Insights Discovery Platform to identify innovative applications and solutions that will impact the FMCG sector in 2021. Our Innovation Analysts conducted exhaustive data-driven research to identify the various emerging FMCG industry trends and innovations. For this report, we analyzed 3.011 startups and scaleups and reveal the top 10 FMCG industry trends as well as 20 highly relevant solutions for each of them.
Explore the Innovation Map below that visualizes the top 10 FMCG industry trends and discover two hand-picked startups for each.
Tree Map: The Impact of FMCG Industry Trends
The Tree Map below illustrates the top 10 FMCG industry trends that will impact companies in 2021. Startups and scaleups work on technological solutions to meet the growing consumer demand for convenience, sustainability, and engaging experiences. The permeation of smartphones globally also pushes the digitization and growth of eCommerce, driving companies towards implementing technologies such as AI, Big Data, IoT, Blockchain, and 3D Printing. FMCG brands adapt product development, manufacturing, and packaging to meet consumer demand for sustainable processes and improved convenience. Online shops open new avenues for data management and analytics that further increase revenues for FMCG companies. For example, a growing number of brands directly distribute and sell to their customers via online channels which reduces transportation and logistics costs.
Global Startup Heat Map: FMCG Startups & Emerging Companies
For this analysis, we used a data-driven startup scouting approach to identify the most relevant solutions globally. The Global Startup Heat Map below highlights the global distribution of startups & emerging companies that also include the 20 promising examples out of 3.011 relevant FMCG solutions. Depending on your specific needs, your top picks might look entirely different.
Top 10 FMCG Industry Trends in 2021
Consumers are becoming more conscious about climate change and its impact on the environment. Thus, they pay more attention to companies’ social activity and seek those that support them in making more responsible choices. As sustainability comes to the forefront, companies not only address how they present and package their products but also what materials they use in their products. To meet consumer demand, more and more FMCG companies offer compostable, recyclable, and reusable packaging. Additionally, cruelty-free, vegan ingredients are on the rise not only in food but also in non-food items such as cosmetics and cleaning products.
Flexi-Hex produces Plastic-Free Packaging
British startup Flexi-Hex produces environmentally-sustainable packaging that helps FMCG companies reduce the amount of packaging waste. The startup offers adaptable, plastic-free solutions their patented honeycomb design made from recycled paper. The startup aims to remove plastic from the packaging industry and raise awareness of the threat that plastics pose to the world’s oceans.
Vegshelf develops a Digital Platform for Healthy Products
To meet the increasing demand for healthy products, German startup Vegshelf develops a digital business-to-business (B2B) platform connecting vegan FMCG brands with online stores, supermarkets, and food services. The platform enables round-the-clock exposure and direct access to buyers. Vegshelf shortens the sales cycle, in turn, helping FMCG brands build and maintain relationships with new and existing customers.
With the demand for convenience increasing in the FMCG sector, companies strive to significantly improve customer experiences. Startups employ Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) to make products more engaging and interactive. 3D videos and gamification attract and entertain customers while providing them with more information about the product. Further, investing in improving customer experiences builds trust and increases brand loyalty. To this end, more and more companies are providing higher convenience with digital technologies.
Chekkit offers a Consumer Intelligence Solution
Nigerian startup Chekkit offers a consumer intelligence solution to improve customer engagement. The solution brings FMCG companies closer to those buying their products through personalized messaging & communication. Chekkit enables FMCG companies to push product surveys and messages to consumers based on their purchase behaviors. Further, the solution runs automated reward campaigns and drives repeat purchases using loyalty programs.
DRNKAR develops AR Solutions for FMCG
Singaporean startup DRNKAR’s solution consists of AR Social Media, an AR Mobile App & AR Platform. AR Social Media entices shoppers through ads and social media activity and redirects them to make a purchase on the website. The AR Mobile App offers 2D and 3D animation to display extended product details while the AR Platform enables FMCG companies to control and manage their content and product information, as well as get insights into consumer behavior. Overall, the startup’s solutions create memorable customer experiences and improve consumer engagement.
Digitization is increasingly becoming a priority for FMCG brands as customers interact with brands across multiple online and offline channels. Companies get access to valuable data from multiple sources including various social media platforms, web, and mobile applications, and also engage with their customers directly. Integrating digital technologies not only offers an omnichannel experience to customers but also converts one-time buyers into repeat customers.
Gladminds builds a Customer Connect Platform
Indian startup Gladminds offers a cloud-based platform that acts as a two-way communication channel between brands and customers. Gladminds’ Connected Platform allows companies to leverage their brand experience and create value for the customer. For example, the startup enables optimizing and personalizing services, marketing, and communication, among other functions. This connects brands with consumers and ensures prolonged product support and engagement.
Repeat develops a Smart Replenishment Platform
US-based startup Repeat works on a Smart Replenishment platform to turn one-time buyers into repeat customers. The startup powers frictionless reordering experiences that are easy from the customer-end and increase revenue for companies. The solution analyzes order data to determine baseline replenishment intervals and automates replenishment workflows to increase operational efficiency.
4. FMCG e-Commerce
The share of sales coming from e-commerce is increasing exponentially. The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has further shifted consumers’ shopping habits towards online channels. Brands are now building their online presence to boost their engagement with consumers. Social media also plays a significant role in the world of e-commerce as more items are sold via social platforms such as Instagram. To this end, FMCG startups actively incorporate diverse social traditional and media, leveraging mobile and headless commerce, to market their products.
Crystallize offers a Headless eCommerce Solution
Norwegian startup Crystallize provides an API driven eCommerce platform for subscription-based businesses models. The startup’s software delivers APIs for product information and content management to digitize the sales process. The headless content management is powered by a semantically structured content engine that enables brands to build and deliver content in different languages, market and sell their products online as well as offer product subscriptions.
Squarelovin offers Social Commerce Solutions
German startup Squarelovin offers solutions for Instagram analytics, social commerce, and visual marketing. The startup enables brands to boost their eCommerce and visual content strategy with user-generated content to build marketing campaigns, grow engagement and increase conversion rates. For example, brand-related content from Instagram can be placed on all channels, including websites, other social media channels, newsletters, and offline media.
5. Big Data & Analytics
FMCG companies actively leverage Big Data to innovate and compete in the industry. As data is becoming more and more accessible with consumers shopping online, brands explore new ways to increase relationships with their customers and gain insights from their behavior. Data analytics explores customer preferences and behavior to provide FMCG companies with a deeper understanding of their customers. Big data solutions allow brands to optimize communication with their customers and offer more personalized experiences.
Zhimatech develops a Consumer-based Data Platform
Chinese startup Zhimatech builds a consumer-based data operation platform taking into account offline behavior data within shopping centers. Through its Re-ID technique, the startup accurately analyzes traffic flow within shopping malls. Combined with online data, Zhimatech creates customer composition insights. The startup also monitors on-site traffic distribution and helps determine the value of individual shops. Further, this data can be used to guide marketing activities from planning to promotion.
Massive provides a Consumer Reviews Analytics Solution
Italian startup Massive develops a consumer reviews analytics solution. The company leverages Artificial Intelligence to monitor eCommerce websites to read and understand consumer feedback. The data collected provides FMCG companies with insights that support consumer-centric business strategies.
6. Artificial Intelligence
AI-powered solutions, such as machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP) are gaining popularity and create opportunities for the FMCG industry. For instance, voice-based systems support consumers round-the-clock to find products and serve customers, in addition to recommendation engines that provide personalized product suggestions. By implementing AI-based solutions, FMCG companies provide an enhanced customer experience thereby increasing customer satisfaction and retention.
Letmetalk offers Conversational AI Solutions
Canadian startup Letmetalk offers chatbots powered by Artificial Intelligence to drive up sales and customer satisfaction. The automated system allows for smooth and personalized marketing, as well as conversations with more than one client at a time. The startup enables FMCG companies to make contact with and build relationships with potential customers, improves conversion rates, and customer service.
Hosted Bots builds Chatbots and Virtual Assistants
Australian startup Hosted Bots builds chatbots and personal virtual assistants for multiple platforms to increase customer engagement. The startup offers a modular system in which companies create building blocks from small bots, group them together to make a complex chatbot, and customize it according to their needs. The chatbots can be used in multiple channels depending on the type of interaction companies have with their customers.
7. Direct Distribution
More and more FMCG companies are leveraging direct distribution to increase customer loyalty and ensure growth. For example, manufacturers directly interact with their end-customers through their own online and offline distribution channels. This increases their profit margin and offers consumers a direct channel to their favorite brands. This FMCG industry trend is closely associated with e-commerce growth as well as the penetration of smartphones and the internet.
Ivy creates a Sales and Direct Distribution Platform
Singaporean startup Ivy builds an AI and Machine Learning-powered Platform to automate sales and distribution in the FMCG industry. The solution enables companies to enhance their customer experience, increase revenue at the shelf, and improve the productivity of their field force. Ivy offers a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) enterprise customer relationship management (CRM) solution where users can manage stock, complete in-store selling, and process orders. The solutions support multiple types of sales channels simultaneously.
Merlin Tech Labs works on Cloud-based Mobile Solutions
Indian startup Merlin Tech Labs creates a cloud-based SaaS application to support Direct-to-Customer distribution. The app enables field sales teams to sell and deliver more goods to people using optimized routes. Further, the app manages sales and transactions, generates reports, and notifies customers when the order is placed, delivered, and the payment is processed.
8. Internet of Things
As IoT evolves, its applications gain popularity in the FMCG sector. IoT sensors and devices are automated and affordable, enabling FMCG companies to employ them in brick & mortar stores, warehouses, and manufacturing facilities. One example of IoT device implementation is to provide targeted messaging to consumers while they are shopping. Another one is inventory management, both in stores and in warehouses, for which IoT is widely used. In combination with related emerging technologies including ambient intelligence and smart objects, IoT creates new consumer interaction channels and revenue streams for FMCG brands.
Ripen Apps creates iBeacon Solutions
Moving one step ahead of the traditional mobile app development approach, Australian startup Ripen Apps creates innovative applications utilizing iBeacon technology. iBeacons enable add-ons to send customers contextual, hyper-local, meaningful messages and personalized ads on their smartphones as they evaluate a product.
Connected Fresh offers Plug & Play Sensors for Temperature Monitoring
US-based startup Connected Fresh offers plug-and-play sensors that give FMCG companies instant and continuous access to live data on the temperature in their storage and warehouses. This includes sensor readings, historical data, and real-time notifications to key stakeholders based on temperature fluctuation. Automatically and continuously monitored products give both companies and their customers peace of mind knowing that the product is held at specific conditions and any deviations are reported to team members with enough time to act.
The competition within the FMCG industry is increasing and brands invest in Blockchain to gain a competitive edge. Smart contracts and Blockchain traceability allows FMCG companies to understand their supply chain bottlenecks and make necessary interventions. Blockchain also increases transparency for consumers by allowing them to track the source of their purchases. Additionally, Blockchain platforms offer cryptocurrencies and loyalty programs that allow consumers to collect, exchange, and redeem points thereby increasing customer engagement.
WABI offers a Digital Loyalty Token
Singaporean startup WABI develops an open platform that supports loyalty programs and enables a direct two-way communication channel between brands and consumers. Consumers use WABI to authenticate blockchain-protected products and share feedback. FMCG companies, on the other hand, deploy targeted surveys and opinion polls to get consumer insights and drive effective decision-making. Additionally, brands can run A/B tests with a live audience and test pricing, messaging, color, and more, to optimize their offerings to a specific target audience.
Greenface provides Self-Serve Blockchain Solutions
US-based startup Greenfence develops an open blockchain platform. The platform connects the entire value chain of the FMCG industry and enables remote auditing and certification. The startup helps brands communicate directly with shoppers thereby increasing trust and interaction while removing the risk of fraud. This enables marketers to control their budgets and consumers to participate and interact with a greater level of anonymity.
10. 3D Printing
Additive manufacturing and its applications create disruptive solutions for the FMCG industry. The vast amount of waste generated by use-and-throw consumer products, from personal care to food packaging, prompts industry stakeholders to find sustainable alternatives. 3D printing allows FMCG brands and companies to design and develop products that use eco-friendly materials and reduce plastic use. To this end, FMCG companies leverage 3D printing for prototyping, designing, tooling, and scaling production in a sustainable manner. Further, food companies are able to offer extra nutritional value in their products by utilizing 3D food printers.
Essentium offers a 3D Printing Platform
US-based startup Essentium offers a 3D printing platform specifically for industrial production. The platform allows companies the flexibility to create multiple product iterations without impacting quality, strength, or performance. FMCG companies use the platform for rapid prototyping, to fine-tune designs and print end-use parts and components with exact precision and repeatability.
Mything connects Companies with Local 3D Printing Providers
Austrian startup Mything is an online marketplace that connects companies with local additive and digital manufacturers such as providers of 3D printing. The startup helps brands optimize production and lower costs by decreasing delivery distances, stock lead times, and material waste.
What does this mean for FMCG companies?
The innovation areas outlined in this research on 10 FMCG Industry Trends only scratch the surface of what we found during our analysis. Sustainable product development, manufacturing, and packaging, with the help of AI, Blockchain, and advanced analytics, as well as opportunities to increase customer engagement, experiences, and satisfaction, all significantly impact FMCG brands and companies one way or the other. Identifying new opportunities and emerging technologies to implement into your business early on goes a long way in gaining a competitive advantage and becoming an industry leader.