How consumer-goods companies can prepare for the next normal

Written by Raphael Buck, Tracy Francis, Eldon Little, Jessica Moulton, and Samantha Phillips

As the coronavirus pandemic spreads across the globe, threatening both lives and livelihoods, consumer-packaged-goods (CPG) manufacturers continue to play an important role: producing essential items we all rely on for our health and well-being. CPG leaders have focused on meeting this demand while guarding the safety of employees and customers.

At the same time, forward-thinking CPG companies have begun to think about the “next normal”—what the world may look like after strong virus-control measures are lifted. The measures in place are expected to lead to the largest quarterly decline in economic activity since World War II. An unprecedented 40 to 50 percent decline in discretionary spending will translate to a roughly 8 to 13 percent drop in GDP. (For our macroeconomic scenarios and latest insights, see McKinsey.com/coronavirus.) While many CPG companies have withstood the initial economic shock, all will need to prepare for the longer-lasting effects, including an erosion in consumer confidence that will drive recessionary behavior.

In this article, we describe five trends in the consumer and retail landscape that have emerged during the crisis and, we believe, will persist in the aftermath. We then recommend the creation of a plan-ahead team to equip CPG companies for whatever the next normal may turn out to be.

By Lianne O'Reilly
Lianne O'Reilly Senior Program Coordinator Lianne O