There is likely no bigger shelf management trend for 2018 than the new customer mantra: mindfulness.

We see it everywhere about our foods and goods. From how things are sourced to a new push to have us slow down and eat, plus the marketing that promises both even when the goods or behaviors don’t change. Mindfulness is driving purchase and consumption, so it’s time to respond.

What initially got us thinking was a trend analysis from Innova Market Insights, but then we noticed it move much farther and deeper into consumers and how they interact with FMCG and CPG before the store, at the shelf, and long after their shopping for the day is done.

The concept also bleeds into your back office and data management with how you respond to trends or help your partners. It’s a brand-new world for food and FMCG, so we invite you to take a minute and come aware of what’s happening around the shelf and on it.

Mindfulness Moves from Buzzword to Decision Engine

Food and fast-moving goods are taking a new place in the hearts and minds of consumers. Roughly 50% of U.S., UK, and German customers are reading ingredient labels. About 20% of U.S. consumers say they are “most influenced” by “real” ingredients, while they also want ethical claims from the packaging, according to Innova Market Insights.

While mindfulness is a term that we seem to hear too much, it does provide good insight into the decisions that are happening at the shelf. Mindfulness has moved beyond its original concept of being more aware of our surroundings and the immediate impact of our actions to an association that all our actions can impact the world and define who we are as individuals. It should also define your approach to shelf management.

You can see it in the boom of food-related and waste-related documentaries at film festivals and on Netflix. FoodMaven is putting significant efforts into reducing and preventing waste, plus making this a core part of its branding. Reducing and recycling are directly impacting sales too.

More than half of Americans prefer to buy goods with minimal to no packaging, while around the same amount of U.K. shoppers prefer packaging that can be recycled.

So, your brand can help by focusing on materials that encase your products. Or, you can focus on what’s inside to capture the mindfulness boom. This includes a focus on — and advertising of — natural or minimal processing techniques for new foods. You’ll see this in fermented foods and the explosion of cold-brew coffees and teas in new cans, as well as brand new processes.

Advertising and Labels Will See a Refresh

Ads directly impact the way shoppers feel about themselves and others, including setting expectations of how people “should look or behave” based on their gender, according to an Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) report. In many cases, that includes furthering of gender stereotypes.

In 2018, FMCG and CPG are going to have none of that.

The change is starting with new ASA standards and best practices designed to reverse and disperse gender stereotypes. It’s leading to a variety of changes, including new unisex baby clothes, ads that swap cleaning and other chores, and the removal of common themes like helpless men and women as dieters and domestic multi-taskers.

We expect to see the shelf highlight this trend with new labels and packaging. Not only is there some general thought that this is better for society and a high-level goal for brands as being more human, but there’s also a slew of studies like Unilever’s that says progressive ads are 25% more effective in delivering a better, branded impact.

If you’ve been to a restaurant that was farm-to-table, then you’ve had a first-hand experience with the way mindfulness is present in advertising. That experience of making a selection from a small choice is akin to the decision on the shelf, with the same factors driving consumption in many cases.

New Kinds of Partner Data

It’s time to apply this same mindfulness approach to your relationships with partners and your consumer strategy. Why? It makes you a better partner and can generate better sales when you’re aware of the shelf and your place on it.

One of the biggest harms to your business is still the out-of-stock because it reduces sales for you and your partners. FMCG estimates say that at any time, between 7 – 10% of items are off the shelf due to being out of stock. The threat here will grow significantly in 2018 because new tools are making it easier for companies to avoid this issue – so those out-of-stocks will more likely be the same brands in multiple locations.

What we’re expecting to dominate 2018 is the mindful partner who can help store owners and shelves be better at targeting customers, staying stocked, and addressing problems quickly.

Sharing batch-level data, as well as performing audits, can ensure that you’ve got safe goods on shelves. Not only does the practice help with recalls and returns, especially in the realm of foods, but it can also clear expired materials when needed. You don’t want to face any issues related to health concerns when someone eats spoiled goods, and there’s little protection to brand image even when there are revenue liability protections.

Shelf Management Focus: Action over Data

Historically, data has always been aplenty but generally used more analytically by category managers, marketing, and R&D teams. Want to succeed? Then change the conversation.

Try to communicate data in a digestible form to sales teams, because they need small and actionable items to create the most value.

In the past, the resources it took to make actionable, snackable data happen typically erased any immediate ROI because of the time it took to finally business intelligence in their hands was too long to make any significant impact.

So What’s Different about 2018?

It’s the year sales teams can effectively leverage data to work smarter not harder because of tools and dashboards like those we provide. With instant reviews and real-time sharing, we’re focusing on 2018 as the year to help you turn data into business insight and action, especially by communicating what’s important as fast as possible.

Our shelf management approach includes reaching out to partners and your internal team with what’s most relevant to them, so it’s easy for them to seize every opportunity.

CPG data is no longer a back-office affair. Modern IT and data capabilities are the chief enabler of success for your brand, not only garnering and supporting partners but tracking customer activity to best position your efforts on the shelf.

We see 2018 as the year of success thanks to data.

Want to see that become a reality for you? Schedule a free Shelvspace demo to see how we’ll help you respond to trends and track the success of your next mindfulness approach.