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Future Forward conference building

The CPG industry’s leading brands, retailers, and strategists met up to discuss where the industry is and where it’s going.

Path to Purchase Institute’s Future Forward conference recently wrapped in New Orleans. In addition to awesome food and music, the transformative event brought together industry experts from all over the country to shed light on the latest trends shaping the CPG and grocery landscape. From shifts in consumer behavior to the latest cutting-edge technologies, the conference offered a unique chance to gather, connect, and talk about where the industry is headed. 

So let's dive into some of the highlights, conversations, and actionable insights that emerged from the conference. 

Retail Media Is Shifting From Screens to Stores 

eCommerce has been a popular topic in grocery circles for a while now, with plenty of focus being placed on the convenience and accessibility that shopping online provides.

But eCommerce continues to only make up a small piece of the total grocery sales pie,  11.2% of the overall U.S. grocery market  in 2022  and only an increase to  13.6% by 2027.

Brands are beginning to realize that concentrating their retail media efforts so much on eCommerce means neglecting a substantial portion of customers and limiting their reach. This year’s Future Forward conference featured frequent engagement with the topic, including surveys about what brings shoppers to stores, why they prefer that experience, and strategies about how to best engage them. 

So Many Networks, So Little Time 

The retail media space continues to experience a constant influx of new networks, with retailers from every category and corner of the industry getting into the game. The numbers are staggering as retail media is expected to grow 5x in 5 years, with a $48 billion increase from 2019 to 2024. While brands are dedicating more and more money to their retail media budgets, the surplus of options makes creating effective strategies more difficult than ever. 

The Tier 1 national chains obviously command the most attention, but then the question becomes how CPGs can best get through to customers at Tier 2 and Tier 3 retail locations. In order to stay competitive, the solutions to these questions need to solve immediate needs and be backed by actionable analytics that can help form future data-driven decisions. This is further complicated by the fact that every network reports differently, which leads to an even bigger question…

How Do We Measure Retail Media Success?  

The challenge of different measurement models among retail media networks creates a significant hurdle for advertisers  that need consistent and comparable data. With each network employing its own approach to analytics, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to gauge and compare performance accurately.

The lack of standardization creates a variety of negative consequences for CPGs like: 

  • Impeding the brand's ability to accurately plan for the future.
  • Making it nearly impossible to compare campaigns from different providers. 
  • Ultimately breaking trust in providers. 

Addressing the challenge will take collaborative efforts from industry stakeholders, which made the Future Forward conference the perfect place to get the ball rolling. 

Future Forward stage

We Gotta Talk About AI Too, Right? 

Artificial intelligence is poised to have a transformative impact on nearly every aspect of our lives, and the grocery industry is no different. With more than 82% of grocers saying that AI will be necessary to stay competitive in the future, the topic dominated plenty of conversations at Future Forward. 

The possibilities for AI really are endless. From the variety of potentials for automation, creating highly targeted content for specific audiences, demand forecasting, and more, the grocery industry stands to benefit from increased efficiency, productivity, and, ultimately, profitability. 

So Much Change, So Many Options…

When P2PI hosts a conference, you know it’s going to be a must-visit, and Future Forward was no different. Attendees had the opportunity to take part in thought-provoking discussions and insightful panel sessions and connect with industry peers. Not to mention all of the exciting things to do outside the walls of the conference center in New Orleans. It was hard to leave without feeling excited about where the industry is headed and all the possibilities that retail media networks provide.