What’s Good for Consumer Goods Manufacturing?
What’s on the road ahead for consumer goods manufacturing? Although the industry is multifaceted and varied, encompassing everything from household goods to food & beverage to apparel and more, most arms of the consumer goods industry are facing similar challenges. Supply chain woes. Geopolitical instability. Economic uncertainty paired with rising costs. Ecommerce disruption. Changing consumer preferences. Labor shortages.
A common thread running through all of those challenges: Stress. According to Deloitte’s “2023 Consumer Products Industry Outlook,” which surveyed executives at CG companies with more than $500 million in revenue, seven of 10 respondents said their job is more stressful now than it was five years ago, due to those ongoing challenges. We believe execs in many industries feel the same.
Here are some trends affecting the consumer goods manufacturing industry today:
Consumer Goods Manufacturing Trends
Challenges remain on the road ahead, but the ride is getting smoother.
Continued supply chain disruptions. No, it’s not over yet. The supply chain bottleneck that most industries faced during the pandemic has improved in some areas but has not gone away. According to a new survey by Coupa Software, 82% of supply chain leaders report bracing for continued supply chain issues in the next year. The industry is looking for ways to take the risk out of its supply chain, namely by reshoring or nearshoring supply to offset the worry about once-reliable sources. One of the wild cards in terms of supply chain is the current geopolitical instability, with the war in Ukraine lingering and tensions heating up with China and Russia.
Economic pressures. A recession is looming. (Or is it? Nobody seems to know.) Prices are rising. Inflation is through the roof. In addition to impacting consumers’ pocketbooks and spending habits, these economic factors are in league with rising costs of raw materials, transportation and labor costs to create a miasma of financial uncertainty. It has caused 80% of respondents in the Deloitte survey to report they’re raising prices further to compensate.
Labor shortages. For the consumer manufacturing industry, the labor shortage doesn’t just mean a lack of warm bodies. It also means a lack of skilled workers. The old guard is retiring, and the new generation taking its place needs the skills to operate today’s complex machinery. It means increased training and outreach from trade schools. The problem is, the numbers of young people going into the manufacturing field are dwindling just when we need them most.
Changing consumer preferences. While human behaviorists will be studying the effects of the pandemic on consumer spending for years to come, we see one thing clearly. Preferences and habits are changing. A heightened awareness of the environment is driving younger consumers toward sustainable products, and companies themselves are being held to those standards. Buyers are turning to the comfort and familiarity of known brands rather than taking risks. They are also more focused on health, having lived through a pandemic.
e-and-m-Commerce surge. This is also about consumer behavior, with a twist. The ecommerce surge that started during the pandemic is showing no signs of slowing down. According to Forbes, in 2023, ecommerce sales are projected to grow to 10.4%,with the global ecommerce market hitting $6.3 trillion. Mobile commerce (people making purchases from their smartphones) is poised to hit $415.93 billion this year. For consumer goods companies this may mean the need for a souped-up e-and-m-Commerce site for direct-to-consumer opportunities.
Proven methods for success
At USC Consulting Group, we specialize in helping companies reduce operating costs and improve efficiency… in this economy, or any economy. In our 55+ years in this business, we’ve rolled with a lot of changing tides and helped our clients do the same. We find that trends, challenges, economies and other factors can affect those tides, but tried-and-true operating methods can right the ship every time.
Two of the most powerful methods we use to help companies become more efficient and profitable are SIOP and LSS.
SIOP. Sales, Inventory & Operations Planning takes the normal sales and operations planning (S&OP) process and adds inventory to be as important of a variable and a strategic tool. Following this methodology helps manufacturers eliminate waste, increase efficiencies and achieve an optimal level between not enough and too much. It’s also an unparalleled tool for inventory management, which is a tricky business today given supply chain shortages and changing consumer preferences.
Balancing between too much inventory and too little has been the ongoing challenge after the pandemic, and SIOP can help you get there. If you would like to learn more about SIOP, download our (free) eBook, “Sales, Inventory & Operations Planning: It’s About Time.”
Lean Six Sigma. Two sides of the same coin, Lean looks at making processes more efficient and reducing lead times, while Six Sigma focuses on cutting down on defects. Both are useful goals when aiming to optimize your processes, throughput and ultimately, your bottom line. Together, Lean Six Sigma is a powerful process methodology.
But it takes years to master the balance between speed of throughput and quality of the end product. We have certified black belts in LSS on staff to guide these projects but also train your staff in the techniques. The goal is to make process improvement changes and ensure they are sustainable for years to come.
Interested in hearing more about how we can help? Give us a call and we’ll start by listening.