headline press information

Date 12th July 2012 / www.procarton.com
Title Shoppers: the next generation
Text At the 16th ECR Conference at the beginning of May in Brussels, top level experts from leading companies of the European retail trade and brand owners met. The three main topics were collaboration in the supply chain, the digital age and sustainable growth. The programme and contributions, together with numerous videos are well documented on the website ecreuropeforum.net. Pro Carton has selected some of the highlights for you.  
  The world of shoppers is changing dramatically, and with it the industry. Against a background of economic crisis in Europe an estimated 120m people are living on less than €1,000 a month. Consequently shoppers are becoming far more price sensitive. Manufacturing and logistics in the supply chain therefore need to become far more efficient.

And then there is digitalisation: today's consumers possess far more information, they have become considerably more independent. Suzanne McEwen of Pro Carton sees her opinion confirmed: "The retail trade in the digital age is a topic which Pro Carton has addressed for some time now - including recently at the Pro Carton Congress in April. The results can be viewed on our website www.procarton.com and in our own study on packaging as the medium."

And third, the environment: sustainability is becoming self evident. One of the two new chairmen of ECR, Thomas Hübner, Executive Director Europe of Carrefour, stated: "We need to become more sustainable, that is a question of hygiene. If you get up in the morning, you have to be sustainable already by definition in the future."

1. Supply Chain: collaboration in a new management generation
New and considerably more intensive forms of collaboration not only result in progress in terms of sustainability, but also in benefits.

Laurent Freixe, CEO Executive Vice President of Nestlé Europe, focused on new models of collaboration in the supply chain: "Collaboration is a game changer if we fully embrace it with long term perspective, if we look at it from end to end. There is a lot we can do on our own, but if we want to fulfil shoppers' needs, we do it so much better if we do it together."

Sander van der Laan, COO of the European retailer chain Ahold Europe, underlined that own labels had an advantage over brands as the retailers could engage in long-term planning, for example, in the field of promotions. "The key factors of our successful private label partnerships are long term collaboration, dedication and mutual exclusivity."

2. Digital: reaching consumers
The motto "Retailing in the digital arena" looked at the connection between business and Internet. Peter Hinsson, author of the book "The New Normal", on the overall situation: "Digital has become the New Normal, and this will have an enormous impact on the way companies organise their communications with customers and how they have to organise internally."

The fact is: consumers are more knowledgeable, and their expectations have increased accordingly, as have their needs for high quality information. Surveys by Nielsen in the USA have shown that 29 per cent of smartphone users already base their buying decisions on information from the Internet. But the new freedom of consumers also raises new questions: who is responsible for information on the Internet? Who is liable if incorrect information results in injury to health?

Barney Burgess, COO Tesco.com, by far the largest online dealer for consumer goods has the most experience with sales of goods for everyday life via the Internet. "We know that customers increasingly are shopping using all sorts of technologies and all sorts of devices. We know customers are increasingly on a budget, increasingly demanding and increasingly able to shop across channels. We need to listen hard, stay close to our customers, we need to engage with our customers and the channels they are increasingly using, and we have to innovate continuously to meet those increasing expectations"

Adds Roland Rex, Chairman of Pro Carton: "This is all managed via packaging – in the stores and online. Hence, a perfect, ideally three-dimensional display of the packaging is just as important as dialogue marketing at the POS.

3. Sustainability: retail trade for the next generation(s)
In terms of sustainability it was abundantly clear: the consumer is no longer satisfied with marginal progress, he wants more – and he is already quite knowledgeable.

And companies are confronted with the following questions: are ecological demands an additional challenge for growth? Or is the integration of sustainability into daily business more of a stimulant for innovation? And thus for greater profits long-term? And also: how can collaboration in the supply chain help companies to become more sustainable?

Judith Batchelar, brand director at Sainsbury's, radically stripped the topic of sustainability from the aura of its green cloak: "We need to move quickly. Our existing commitments have either already been achieved, will soon expire or are aspirational in nature and therefore need to be replaced with commitments that are focused, bold, time-bound and have numerical goals underpinning them."

Batchelar listed 14 ambitious objectives for Sainsbury's by 2020 and summarised: "Driving more sustainable value chains inevitably means those value chains become more efficient in the long term, more cost effective and more profitable, but if you don't measure it you will never know."

"One thing is clear", added Roland Rex.: "Cartons are certainly the most sustainable packaging solution. Wherever it can replace other materials it is the first choice in terms of sustainability."

The conference summary by the two new ECR chairmen was therefore more muted optimism. Thomas Hübner, Executive Director Europe of Carrefour: "I believe the next five years will be the most difficult we have seen after the Second World War and even before. It's also a huge opportunity to gain new momentum, but it will take some time."

And Jan Zijderveld, Unilever President Europe, mentioned two main challenges: "How do we transform the shopping experience? That is a key topic that we as an industry need to think about. The second area is the efficiency of our industry: if you look at the examples of on-shelf availability, of transport, of waste, you become very encouraged. The only thing we may have done is set our targets too low, because there is a lot of good things happening."

Source: www.ecreuropeforum.net

Thomas Hübner, Executive Director for Europe - Carrefour
Thomas Hübner, Executive Director for Europe - Carrefour
Jan Zijderveld, President Unilever Europe - Unilever
Jan Zijderveld, President Unilever Europe - Unilever
Laurent Freixe, Executive Vice President, Europe - Nestlé
Laurent Freixe, Executive Vice President, Europe - Nestlé
Judith Batchelar, Director of Sainsbury's Brand - Sainsbury's
Judith Batchelar, Director of Sainsbury's Brand - Sainsbury's
Moderator Alex Thomson / Barney Burgess, COO Grocery Home Shopping - Tesco
Moderator Alex Thomson / Barney Burgess, COO Grocery Home Shopping - Tesco



Suzanne McEwen +43 1 218 6918 mcewen@procarton.com
Background Pro Carton is the European Association of Carton and Cartonboard manufacturers. Its main purpose is to promote the use of cartons and cartonboard to brand owners, the trade as well as designers, the media and politicians as an economically and ecologically balanced packaging medium.