Kantar’s Bryan Gildenberg forecasts retail world of 2025

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Kantar’s Bryan Gildenberg forecasts retail world of 2025

By Seth Mendelson - 06/21/2018
Capturing the consumer of 2025 — just seven years from now — could be a lot different than capturing the consumer of 2018.

So theorizes Bryan Gildenberg, the chief knowledge officer at Kantar Retail, who spoke at the Digital Disruption Innovation Summit, held in Schaumberg, Ill., in mid-April. The conference, developed by Drug Store News, Mack Elevation and Walgreens, attracted more than 200 retailers and industry officials.

“More than 100% of the growth in the U.S. population now in 2025 is going to come from people over the age of 65,” Gildenberg said during his 30-minute presentation at the event. “One of the ways in which you can tell that story is that from a demographic point of view, the drug channel is very much on the right side of history. Right now, the U.S. has the income polarization of a developing country, not a developed one. And understanding that and being able to merchandise for that scenario is important.”

Gildenberg said that the demographic makeup of the domestic consumer is extremely different based on age. For example, he said that about 78% of Americans over the age of 50 years old are white, while just 52% of consumers under 30 years old are white. “There are neighboring countries in the world that go to war with each other over ethnic differences that are not as ethnically different as under 30 America and over 50 America are.”

“So, if you ever wonder why there is so much confusion around culture in today’s world a lot of it is just simple math,” he said. “But being able to understand and unpack how that math works is a big part of winning retail. This is the growth challenge.”

But while stressing demographics, Gildenberg was quick to point out that American retailers and suppliers live within a global marketplace and they must understand the dynamics of the market, both within U.S. borders and throughout the world.

“Large global brands will have gone from growing two-and-a half times faster than the market in 2012 to two-and-a-half times slower than the market in 2018,” he said. “There are a number of reasons for that. One of which is that, other things being equal, big companies don’t master the digital world as well as small ones do. And, there is no reason for this, save the fact the choices that large companies have made around how they organize the work and how they measure success. That’s it. Moses didn’t come down from the mountain with the tablet saying big companies will suck at the Internet.”

In addition to rethinking their benchmarks, Gildenberg said retailers and suppliers should know the big growth opportunities. “When we look at this, we should try to understand that about 45% of all the growth in the world is going to come from non-store retail. Of the remaining 55%, a big chunk of that is going to come from prescriptions, which are still one of the key growth drivers in the U.S. retail landscape.”

Furthermore, Gildenberg said that much of the growth is coming from club stores, deep discount chains and the convenience store industry. “So when you start to think about where growth is coming from outside of the drug ecosystem, it is not coming from the conveniently measured universe,” he said. “It’s coming from places that are harder to see and harder to understand, and that’s where the wide-angle lens becomes really critical.”

Thinking outside the box is vital for suppliers and retailers. Using Coca-Cola’s new beverage dispensing machines, where the consumer can mix dozens of different flavors into one unique drink, Gildenberg stressed that retailers must understand that they must satisfy the shoppers’ unique tastes. “The machine is brilliant in that it is a commercially viable point of difference — at food service venues,” he said. “It has the ability to personalize, and it’s fun. Kids want to go to the fast-food establishments that have the Coke machine because nothing appeals to a 9-year-old more than putting 37 different flavors of soda in a cup and saying, ‘wow, this tastes great.’”

The key for suppliers is not only coming up with a story, but also backing it up with strong sales and profit figures. “I think that is going to be essential that if you are one of the large brands in categories where growth is coming from other places, you’ve got to get better at telling that genuine category story,” he said. “They have to understand the role that your brand’s story plays, whether with building traffic or profits.”

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