Do CPG companies need to become retailers?

Today’s Retail Wire discussion focuses on consumer packaged goods companies developing their own retail channels in order to understand customer behavior better. Is this really necessary? Here’s my take:

While there is a long history of successful CPG marketers that have not built their own retail channels, most of these brands have probably achieved success at least through a strong understanding of consumer behavior. The CPG companies in question should have done a lot of observational and quantitative research and (most importantly) collaborated with retail partners to help uncover patterns of behavior.

On the other hand, it’s no accident that a company like Apple has driven its retail sales primarily through its own stores, with less focus on broader distribution like Best Buy and Walmart, in order to align the store experience with brand positioning. And it’s also no accident that big CPG companies like P&G are moving faster into ventures like “The Art of Shaving,” in order to study–and capitalize upon–men’s shopping behaviors with their own eyes.

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