(Finally) 2017 FMCG Winners & Losers and 10 Predictions for 2018
‘Face reality as it is, not as it was or as you wish it to be’ Jack Welch
Many reached out to get my views on the below, after few weeks stuck as a draft on my computer, here it is finally. I reckon it is much easier also to make predictions one month in the year. Enjoy the read.
2017 Winners and Losers (based on the latest financials communicated on 05/02/18)
The majority (90%) of the top 50 listed FMCG companies grew slower than their overall global market and lost shares in 2017
Large FMCG companies: If we except a handful of companies with exposure to luxury beauty and premium spirits (L’Oréal, Pernod Ricard, Diageo, Estee Lauder, Beiersdorf), the majority (90%) of the top 50 listed FMCG companies grew slower than their overall global market and lost shares in 2017, confirming the structural gap between large FMCG and smaller, more nimble players. This structural gap even increased on the categories the most impacted by the channel shifts (more on this below)
Large Food companies: The FMCG vertical on which the gap between small and large FMCG companies has been the most important is Food (estimated at an average of 300 bps). Kraft-Heinz, Kellogg’s, General Mills and Campbell’s have delivered flattish revenue in an overall market growing +/-3%. Main reasons are quickly evolving consumer needs, hyper-fragmented growth opportunities and a continuous focus on profit improvement (Kraft-Heinz syndrome) at the expense of top-line growth. Best performers were again Lindt (+3.6%) and PepsiCo (+2.6%) although their growth are now decelerating. Unsurprisingly the Food companies stock under-performed their peers across other FMCG verticals in 2017
JAB and in some extent KH: For the first time in 15 years, RB posted a flat growth in 2017. One-off hits (cyber attack, innovation gap) and structural reasons are to blame (channel shift on consumer health, structural challenges on household categories). Coty delivered also a flat growth mostly helped by its acquisitions (Younique/GHD) offsetting the decline of the acquired P&G Beauty business. For 3G, if we exclude the failed attempt to take-over Unilever, it was not a so bad year actually. Kraft-Heinz continued to over-deliver EPS consensus, exclusively through profitability improvement (now 28% EBIT) although we can argue that there is now little juice left in the lemon. And Ab-Inbev outperformed (again) its peers and posted a +4.6% growth in a challenging trading environment.
US Consumer market: Market research firms all reported a sharp decline on the growth in the US across a number of categories (blades and razors, consumer health, colour cosmetics, baby care…) blaming the ‘softness of the market’. The market is not soft. Consumers continue to shave, apply make-ups and babies continue to wear diapers. Traditional market research firms are just unable to capture the overall market growth. Most of thegrowth has shifted channels and is now with DTC players and with Amazon.
Traditional market research firms are just unable to capture the overall market growth. Most of the growth has shifted channels and is now with DTC players and with Amazon
Gillette in the US: Annus horribilis (again) for Gillette that was forced to cut its blades prices by up to 20% in the US to respond to new entrants. We estimate that Gillette lost 30% of its revenue (from 70% to sub 50% market share) over the last 60 months in the US and 80% of its EBIT (before A&P and fixed costs cuts/mitigations). We predicted it 2 years ago. This is now happening. Same dynamic for Schick.
We estimate that Gillette lost 30% of its revenue (from 70% to sub 50% market share) over the last 60 months in the US and 80% of its EBIT (before A&P and fixed costs cuts/mitigations)
Consumer Health: For some it was the surprise of 2017. The dramatic deceleration in all consumer health business units/companies. GSK/Bayer/Sanofi/J&J/RB Consumer Health units averaged 2016 at 3.8% growth, 2017 Q3 YTD was barely 1%. If most CEOs and financial analysts claim that it was a cyclical performance due to one-off events. We are much more cautious. We predicted in 2016 that Consumer Health will be among the first categories to be disrupted. We notice that Consumer Health reached on some categories and in some geographies a channel shift tipping point (e.g. OTC/VMS in US/UK). The structural challenges of Bayer Consumer Health are a good illustration (chart and article below). We anticipate that some categories (mostly VMS/OTC) will lose most of their competitive moats (especially in the countries OTC can be sold in drugstores and grocery stores) and their structural profitability will deteriorate dramatically in the quarters to come. Pfizer and Merck have put their Consumer Health units under ‘strategic review’, J&J, Sanofi and Nestle decided not to enter the bidding process. Again, this is not a surprise.
We anticipate that some categories (mostly VMS/OTC) will lose most of their competitive moats (especially in the countries OTC can be sold in drugstores and grocery stores) and their structural profitability will deteriorate dramatically in the quarters to come
FRANKFURT (Reuters) – German drugmaker Bayer has hired the head of Nestle’s baby food business to help it reverse a drop in revenue from consumer health brands, which often fail to appeal to buyers on Amazon and other online platforms. Bayer has appointed Nestle’s Heiko Schipper, 48, to run the Consumer Health division as a group board member from March 1 next year, replacing Erica Mann, Bayer said in a statement on Wednesday.
‘Stuck in the middle’ retailers: stores closure hit a record high in the US. Department stores were hit the most. Concluding that retail is doomed could not be farther from the truth as in the meantime, value retailers (Aldi, Lidl, Dollar General…) and differentiated retailers (Sephora, Ulta, WholeFood, Costco….) continued to outperform the market
Media agencies: In H1, Unilever and P&G made the headlines claiming having cut drastically marketing and digital marketing investment in particular and having not felt the impact on their sales. Media agencies face 3 challenges: i. the rise of programmatic buying, the move in-house of ad buying, ii. the movement to bring back some strategic activities in-house, iii. the lack of transparency of digital marketing investment environment (ROI, ad placement…), iv. the fact that most FMCG brands do not face awareness but consideration issues and that paid ads are mostly ineffective at bridging consideration gaps.
A surprising thing happened when Procter & Gamble, the consumer goods giant behind Gillette razors, Crest toothpaste and Pampers nappies, trimmed $100m from its digital marketing costs in the second quarter: nothing changed. “We didn’t see a reduction in the growth rate [in value or volume of sales],” Jon Moeller, P&G’s chief financial officer, told investors.
Exponential Organizations: they have in common to be digital native, to be start-ups at heart and to have a value chain designed for exponential scale-up. This is Younique that is expected to double its revenue to $800m in 2017, Rodan+Fields that has become the #1 Skin Care brand in the US with a turnover exceeding the $1bn, Three Squirrels the e-commerce snack company in China that should be close to the $900m revenue mark in 2017. The list is very long but those are the new winners, businesses that can move from 0 to $1bn sales in few years and sometimes few months (cf. celebrities section below)
In 2002, the doctors who invented the best-selling acne brand Proactiv, launched a women’s skincare brand called Rodan + Fields. Last year, the brand sold $1.15 billion worth of product and today, Euromonitor announced it is the top-selling skincare brand in the U.S. This may come as a surprise to much of the country.
Activist investors: From Nelson Peltz that won the much disputed proxy against P&G to Dan Loeb that obtained from Nestle profit guidance and a mid-term EBIT target of 20%, activists investors influenced greatly the largest FMCG companies in 2017. As Rakesh Kapoor (RB CEO) put it this year: ‘if you do not want an activist investor, you should behave as an activist CEO’. Well, replacing half of his management team and preparing the carve-out of the household business unit is surely acting like an activist CEO
As Rakesh Kapoor (RB CEO) put it this year: ‘if you do not want an activist investor, you should behave as an activist CEO’
(Reuters) – Procter & Gamble Co () said it appointed Nelson Peltz to its board despite the activist investor narrowly losing a months-long proxy fight, the biggest ever involving a U.S. company. The company’s shares were up 1 percent in after-market trading on Friday.
Everything premium: Chinese consumers helped undoubtedly but it is not a coincidence if premium beauty and spirits are the categories that have been growing the most. We are currently witnessing a polarization of the growth a both end of the spectrum and losers will be ‘stuck in the middle’ retailers and brands (no price and no differentiation advantages)
We are currently witnessing a polarization of the growth a both end of the spectrum and losers will be ‘stuck in the middle’ retailers and brands (no price and no differentiation advantages)
Private labels: This is not new and they continue to grow on the back of the scale-up of Aldi, Lidl and… Amazon. Batteries and baby wipes are great examples and it is still day 1 for Amazon. Next step for Amazon will be to conquer household and beauty categories.
Everything Organic, Clean, Better for You, Probiotic or with Protein: Those have been the big consumer trends and unsurprisingly that is where most acquisitions took place (RX a protein bar company founded with $5000 was sold $600m to Kellogg’s, Hershey’s acquired Amplify brands for $1.6bn, Campbell acquired Lance-Snyder, Lactalis acquired Siggi’s, the list is very long…)
“Have you ever had one of these RXBARs?” I asked the cashier as I was checking out. “I actually haven’t, but man do they sell. People here love it and buy it all the time,” the cashier said. I had just finished interviewing co-founder of RXBAR, Peter Rahal at his local coffee shop in the River North neighborhood of Chicago.
Celebrities: Kylie Cosmetics (Kylie Jenner) became the fastest growing beauty company of all time and raked up $420m revenue in 18 months (2016-17). Rihanna recorded $72m sales in the month of september alone with Fenti beauty. Key lesson: e-commerce friendly category (P&L structure, video/photo/social media friendly) + huge followerships + star products = exponential growth. And it is still Day 1 for those businesses. In an environment barriers-to-entry are now almost non-existent, more celebrities will join the party
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E-tailers: those were the movers and shakers of 2017: Amazon and Alibaba. Their financial performance (mid double digit growth, stock price x3 for Alibaba, +50% for Amazon) and acquisitions/stake in grocery retail (Wholefoods, Sun Art) gave the tempo in the industry and shaped the strategic agenda of most FMCG and retail companies. AMZ accounted for 4% of total retail value in the US in 2017 and over half of the e-commerce value.
Voice: if sales through Voice remains insignificant, Voice assistant reached record sales in 2017 and experts anticipate that up to 50% of Searches will be conducted through Voice assistant by 2020 reshaping entirely how brands design their 4P strategy.
Differentiated and price leader retailers: Costco, Ulta, Sephora, Dollar General, Aldi, Lidl. Those were the key winners of 2017.
Walmart: It has been a great year for Walmart, against all odds, its Jet acquisition helped to propel its ecommerce business by 60% and its stock price increased by 5%. However, it still announced end 2017 the closure of 63 Sam Clubs.
‘Brand-tax’ killers: They are on a mission to eliminate the brand-tax and are called Brandless or Beauty Pie. They bring transparency on the value chain and P&L of large FMCG companies and propose drastically cheaper alternatives.
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10 predictions for 2018:
Exponential Growth as priority #1, #2 and #3 as ultimate remedy to fend off the ‘Red Queen Effect’ (‘Through the looking-glass’ – Lewis Carroll)
“Well, in our country,” said Alice, still panting a little, “you’d generally get to somewhere else—if you run very fast for a long time, as we’ve been doing.” “A slow sort of country!” said the Queen. “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”
FMCG leaders will understand that they are running on a treadmill on which the speed keeps accelerating and their traditional strategic toolbox is becoming increasingly ineffective. Exponential Growth strategy will be front and centre through:
i) Exponential Organizations build and acquisitions
ii) Leveraging the potential of e-commerce through partnering with the new winners (e-tailers…) and inventing new consumer centric business models
iii) Business model innovation to leapfrog specifically in developing markets
2. Structural increase in cost of doing business
Cost of doing business in the FMCG industry will only increase dramatically for several reasons. i) Price war will only intensify among legacy retailers to drive price competitiveness perception. ‘Stuck in the middle’ retailers with neither a cost advantage or a differentiation advantage (ie. most large retailers) will drive the most deflation, ii) The rise of e-tailers with different profit expectations will only add more pressure to legacy retailers, iii) Legacy retailers will respond through cutting further costs, pushing even faster unprofitable ecommerce initiatives, pushing harder their private labels, shrinking shelf space on the categories they cannot defend and/or opening their shelf space to digital native companies. All of these while using FMCG brands as an adjustment variable in their P&L and on their shelf space, iv) E-tailers will progressively increase their trade spend/monetize their new status (search/voice/media placement). v) Digital native competitors with frugal business model (no/low paid A&P, no/low trade margin) will drive deflation and disrupt the most profitable segments (e.g. Blades and Razors, OTC, Skin, Make-up…).
We expect most FMCG companies to spend back between 100 and up to 300 bps of trade spend in developed countries depending to their category and channel footprint
Household goods from diapers to toilet paper to razors are getting cheaper, but what is a boon for shoppers is squeezing profits at the world’s biggest consumer-goods companies.
3. It is not market softness, it is called Channel shifts and it makes the difference between businesses Shrinking-to-Glory (declining top-line, growing profitability) and Shrinking-to-Misery (both declining top-line and profitability)
Categories the most impacted by the Channel Shifts are:
Categories with ecommerce friendly economics and strong consumer rationales: Blades and razors / Premium beauty / Make-up / Skin Care / Consumer Health / Baby diapers
Everywhere AMZ decides to launch its private labels (e.g. wipes, batteries)
And last the ‘collateral victims’: all impulse food and beverage brands that will wake-up and notice that the ecommerce shift on grocery will penalize them the most and that they need to recreate an impulse experience online
As a result, we will witness an increasing top-line CAGR standard deviation between small companies and large companies on categories/markets where channel shifts hit the most
4. The New Red Oceans or the Strategic convergence to Beauty/Nutrition
At a time most Household and Consumer Health categories are losing their attractiveness. We will see an increasing convergence to Beauty/Nutrition segments. We expect all the legacy household players (P&G, Unilever, Colgate-Palmolive, Henkel, RB, Clorox, Church & Dwight) to ‘double down’ on personal beauty care organically and by acquisitions (although that for UL and HENKEL, this is not new). Colgate-Palmolive’s acquisitions of medical grade skin care companies end 2017 was only the beginning of this accelerating trend
In an effort to bolster its higher-margin oral care, personal care and pet nutrition businesses, Colgate-Palmolive Company announced this morning it has agreed to purchase professional skincare brands PCA Skin and EltaMD, in two separate transactions. 2017 has been like a gold rush with beauty conglomerates making strategic acquisitions and investments in independent beauty brands.
5. A record M&A year ahead (a mix of large/transformative and small/bolt-on) and the rise of PEs
Kraft-Heinz: time may well have come after the failed take-over bid on UL to make a large acquisition as the EPS machine cannot be fueled eternally by mere profitability expansion and EBIT % already reached 28%. We see MDLZ or PEPSICO as likely targets. It will all depend of trading conditions. If those conditions were not to be met, we see it unlikely that KH proceeds with smaller growth-driven bolt-on acquisitions but sometimes we do not do what we want but what we have to do…
Food companies that missed the year-end M&A party (cf. spread of acquisitions led by Hershey’s, Campbell, Nestle and Kellogg’s) will finally join it: mostly General Mills and MDLZ
MDLZ specifically: Under the leadership of its new CEO, it will be finally the year of growth acceleration for MDLZ with a string of small acquisitions on better-for-you and salted snacks segments
Coty: Encouraged by the performance of its ‘bolt-on’ acquisitions (GHD, Younique) that (likely) saved its 2017 FY, it will acquire another small digital native / exponential organization. Skincare will be a key strategic focus (largest beauty category, make-up already addressed with Younique, Professional division already addressed with GHD)
RB Household unit will be de-merged and will end up floating or being sold to a PEfund as no large FMCG companies will make adequate offers
Pfizer Consumer will end up being sold to GSK as it is the partner with the most synergies and the other parties will progressively exit the bidding process (J&J, Nestle, Sanofi, RB)
RB Health will refocus at the intersection of beauty/personal care and consumer health and favor smaller/more disruptive acquisitions (including business model innovation acquisitions)
FMCG companies will acquire specialized e-commerce platforms and logistics/e-tailing capabilities. Mostly likely to happen on categories hit the most by the channel shifts and on impulse food/beverage categories through the acquisition of an impulse food/bev etailer (e.g. GoPuff)
Unilever will continue to look at Estee Lauder with envy but will not buy it because of its price
No one will make a move on Colgate-Palmolive and it will have to invent its own new destiny (most probably through further acquisitions on Personal Beauty Care)
If the market conditions are favorable, Ab-Inbev will acquire Diageo or Pernod and proceed with its plan to consolidate the entire alcoholic drink vertical
JAB will continue to consolidate the total beverage and coffee retail verticals. It will continue also to divest progressively its luxury vertical
P&G will finally accelerate its acquisitions and focus on small exponential organizations with a priority on personal and beauty care categories (excluding make-up). Skin-Care will be a big focus. Defensive acquisitions on vulnerable categories should also not be excluded (DTC players on baby or femcare)
Nestle will continue to proceed with its bolt-on acquisitions to boost growth, will not bid on consumer health assets (Merck/Pfizer as seen as too expensive/hit by channel shifts) and will look the whole year without success for a large acquisition to make. Overall 2018 will finish like 2017 at Nestle. Good progress, but too slow and not enough to really move the needle both on top- and bottom-line front
Overall 2018 will finish like 2017 at Nestle. Good progress, but too slow and not enough to really move the needle both on top- and bottom-line front
6. E-tailers (AMZ, Alibaba, JD…) will continue to drive the show and everybody else will react:
Market research companies will finally wake-up and understand the exponential nature of e-commerce
Total online grocery spending could reach $100 billion within five to seven years, according to the Food Marketing Institute and Nielsen.
We will see a dramatic increase in grocery e-commerce penetration driven by the above players but also by the traditional players that will execute defensive plans (cf. Leclerc and Walmart latest announcements)
By Dominique Vidalon PARIS (Reuters) – Privately-held French supermarket operator Leclerc said on Wednesday it planned to launch a food delivery service in Paris this year, in the face of competition from Amazon. Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods in the United States last year has prompted speculation that the tech company could be targeting the European food and supermarket sector next.
AMZ and Alibaba will be the first companies to reach the trillion dollar market cap
The competition will intensify drastically across all markets with JD/Alibaba entering the US through partnerships, with Walmart leapfrogging to new geographies and with AMZ and Alibaba doubling-down on the last large piece to grab that is India. The battle of Europe will also start. Alibaba will favor partnerships there and AMZ will make a large acquisition
Chinese e-commerce and technology company Alibaba and U.S. grocer Kroger have had early discussions on working together, including a meeting in which U.S. executives traveled to China, a source familiar with the matter said. The business development talks are at an initial stage, and it is not clear if they will lead to any cooperation, the person said, declining to be named.
Walmart today announced a major expansion in terms of its global e-commerce presence: the retailer is entering a strategic partnership with Tokyo-based Rakuten, which will see the companies collaborating on the launch of a new online grocery service in Japan, and the sale of e-readers, audiobooks a…
(Reuters) – China’s JD.com Inc is preparing to enter the United States by the end of this year in a move that will challenge its Chinese rival Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and U.S.-based Amazon.com Inc, Bloomberg News reported on Thursday.
Alibaba will continue to grow faster than AMZ as its business model is much less capital intensive (partnerships vs. acquisitions, click and collect vs. direct delivery) and much more suited to developing markets (fragmented trade environment, limited infrastructure) where most of the growth is and will be
AMZ will continue to acquires large retail players to accelerate its leadership on grocery but also on attractive vertical like Beauty. Having AMZ acquiring Nordstrom or Ulta in the US and Carrefour in EU are all plausible scenarios
We will witness an accelerated offline/online convergence and all large retailers will have New Retail initiatives (automatic check-out, interactive shelves, tailored assortment per store, click and collect, shop in-store and deliver at home facility…)
This story was delivered to BI Intelligence “E-Commerce Briefing” subscribers hours before appearing on Business Insider. To be the first to know, please click here. Alibaba has been recruiting independent store owners in China to adopt its retail management platform in their stores, according to Quartz.
Autonomous vehicles projects will continue to be scaled-up by large retailers paving the way to dramatic last-mile-delivery cost reduction and mass e-commerce disruption
7. The rise of Voice will make it even more a winner-takes-it-all game where the rules are controlled by AMZ
Voice will continue its acceleration and will reach 5% of total Search in the US by the end of 2018 and 50% by 2020
AMZ will continue to artificially influence the search results of Alexa and push its own private labels to boost its profit
AMZ will ask FMCG companies to pay for product placements. It will lead to a bidding war for keywords between FMCG companies
8. Increasing disintermediation, accelerated foray into Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) and in-sourcing of marketing activities
Under the pressure of trade spend inflation and a new breed of competitors, DTC initiatives will accelerate within the FMCG industry. If most initial attempts failed (not economical, little offer differentiation vs. offline), new attempts will be made and new profitable business models will emerge
The first blockchain e-commerce platform will open in Netherlands over the summer with the aim to eliminate retailers and numerous FMCG companies will participate
Here, we discuss the retail market, the ongoing crisis and a change in consumer preferences. Next, we explain the blockchain technology in a plain and easy to understand manner, and explore practical use cases for it within the retail industry and groceries, in particular.
Programmatic in-house ad buying and in-sourcing of strategic marketing activities (e.g. influencers management) will only accelerate in an effort to save costs, build first party data and improve drastically precision/segmentation
The world’s biggest ad spender, Procter & Gamble Co., likes what it’s gotten from agency- and production-fee cuts so much that it wants more: It’s now moving more media planning and buying in-house, Chief Financial Officer Jon Moeller said Tuesday as the company released its latest financial results.
9. Increase in commodities price and significant margin erosion
Oil price will increase by 50% over the next 6 months and reach 80$ by July 2018 (up from 55$ in Q4 2017) and will generate the biggest in-year increase in commodities price over the last 10 years eroding further profit margin. We expect the impact to be felt from H2 2018. In an overall deflationist environment, we expect FMCG companies will not be in a position to pass straight pricing and it could shave-off up to 150 bps margin on Household, Personal Beauty Care
FMCG companies will not be in a position to pass straight pricing and commodities price increase could shave-off up to 150 bps margin for the Househould and Personal Care (HPC) companies
Goldman Sachs has held one of the most optimistic views on the re-balancing of the oil market and oil prices in the near term. The investment bank is now growing even more bullish, predicting that the oil market has likely balanced, and that Brent Crude will reach $82.50 a barrel within six months.
10. Developing markets bounce-back
Finally after a chaotic year 2017 (demonetization and GST in India, Brazil…), developing markets will finally bounce-back and lead global growth again.
‘Face reality as it is, not as it was or as you wish it to be’ Jack Welch
We wish everyone the very best for the year ahead. No doubt, that it will be again a hugely exciting one. More than ever, for all leaders in the industry, it is time to manage for growth
For the one willing to continue the conversation, we will host an exclusive and unique European FMCG Executive Conference on Friday, March 16th 2018 from 11 am to 2 pm in Zurich in our exclusive office on the Bahnhofstrasse (lunch will be served – and potentially on the rooftop overlooking the lake weather permitting). The event is exclusively reserved to senior executives in the FMCG industry (managing a P&L > €1bn or Head of Strategy) and is limited to only 12 attendees. For more information and to RSVP, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Frederic Fernandez does not own any stocks or financial instruments of any FMCG companies or companies mentioned in the above article. All the above information are public information.
About the author:
Frederic Fernandez is an expert and thought leader in the FMCG industry. He is the Managing Director and Partner of Frederic Fernandez & Associates a bespoke Strategy Consulting Firm exclusively focused on the FMCG industry. Before joining the world of management consulting, he worked with Fortune 500 companies like Procter & Gamble, Reckitt Benckiser, PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Societe Generale in leadership positions across Europe (France, UK, Nordics, Germany, Switzerland, Austria), Central Africa and India. His focus areas are mainly direct-to-consumer, consumer eco-systems and business model innovation; growth and profit turnaround and corporate strategy in the FMCG industry. His passion is to help FMCG leaders co-creating the future of the industry and to develop, achieve and exceed the potential of their business. He spends his time advising Fortune 500 FMCG senior leaders globally. He is based in Zurich, Switzerland. He is also a sought-after speaker and speaks across the globe at trade associations and for corporate clients (CEO strategy meeting, yearly strategic reviews, senior management events) about the FMCG industry.