The leading Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) operations in the world are embracing mobile at an explosive rate. Johnson and Johnson offers over a dozen mobile apps available across a variety of tablets and smartphones. Unilever also provides a selection of product oriented mobile apps, and even a dedicated app for investors to track company financials.

Companies are also developing custom apps for business purposes that never even face the consumer. While not every business has reached the billion dollar threshold or possesses the resources necessary for in-depth development teams, mobile strategies benefit businesses of every size. For SMBs hoping to one day reach that milestone, incorporation of mobile apps into varying aspects of operations will invariably drive growth.

Particularly when it comes to Fast Moving CPGs (FMCPG) where stock is depleted by customers over the course of days and weeks, having access to real-time operational feeds on a smartphone can provide competitive advantage. With customers inundated with competitor offers and cheaper alternatives, maintaining a direct relationship and driving brand engagement via mobile apps is important in today’s CPG market.

By strategically using mobile apps for customer facing experiences and strategic internal decision making, up-and-comers in the CPG industry can help improve their chances of reaching the billion dollar club.

Increasing Brand Engagement

Companies like Johnson and Johnson, Procter & Gamble, and Unilever have hundreds and thousands of different products being sold across a network of retail vendors. With such a diverse range of products, the main brand (ie. P&G or J&J) behind the multitude of products (like Charmin or Rogaine) can become lost. Through the use of product oriented apps that provide value for customers, these brands can increase brand notoriety, engagement, and customer loyalty.

While not every business can afford a comprehensive in-house mobile development team, there are alternate economical options. When developing a branded mobile app it must aim to accomplish three things: accurately represent a brand, provide utility for customers, and act as a valuable source for marketing data.

Procter & Gamble developed a Charmin toilet paper themed app ‘Sit-or-Squat’ for finding restrooms near a user’s location. Johnson and Johnson developed a Listerine ’21 Day Challenge’ app to help customers stick to an oral health regimen using their product. The company also developed a customer service and support app for Rogaine buyers. Strategically assessing the customer profile for specific products, is the key to delivering a branded mobile app that increases engagement.

Entrepreneurs and SMBs hoping to one day establish market dominance should look to leaders in the CPG space for guidance.

Visualizing Data

A majority of apps the Google Play and Apple App Store are designated specifically for the public. In comparison, CPGs and other large organizations are developing custom enterprise apps specifically for employees. These lightweight mobile applications are ideal for augmenting paper driven processes or legacy applications (augmenting existing applications and eradicating paper driven processes).

Specifically in the realm of tracking metrics and reporting, mobile apps are ideal for tracking total supply chain costs, inventory turnover ratios, and even things like machine downtime. Companies such as Microstrategy specialize specifically in enterprise mobile app offerings that empower business users to create their visualizations and dashboards for specific data reports.

Mobile apps that use visualizations and interactive dashboards for reporting complex data sets are quickly becoming an alternative to Excel sheets with hundreds of columns and rows. Rather than peruse through a dense and maze like spreadsheet detailing daily operations for a factory fleet, executives can access a visual representation of data to quickly surmise insight.

Adapting to Market Flux

A great deal of SMBs and global corporations alike are turning to mobile apps for processes such as customer relationship management (CRM), supply chain management (SCM), and fleet tracking. In fact leaders in the CPG industry like P&G are aiming to spend 25% of media budgets on digital. This trend is in part due to the staggering growth in consumption power from developing markets.

Consulting firm McKinsey & Company predicts that, “by 2025, a staggering 4.2 billion people will be part of the consuming class.” Due to the surge in market opportunity resulting from more consumers with purchasing power around the globe, mobile apps that deliver real-time analytics and reporting will be more attractive to CPG brands.

Every aspect of the value chain is being disrupted by digital technologies in a variety of ways, mobile being one of them. In fact, McKinsey specifically designated mobile as the top disruptor for CPG operations worldwide. For fast moving consumer packaged goods, mobile should be a major pillar of their IT, marketing and management strategy in the years to come.