March 4, 2024

10 Minute Read

How to Win in the Fiercely Competitive US Consumer Market

The US consumer market and retail landscape is very different to anywhere else in the world.

Yes, it’s the world's largest consumer market (29% of global consumer spend is from the US - that’s $20.1 trillion annually which is more than double that of all the EU Nations combined, who are sitting at $8.8 trillion), and one would expect it to be very competitive, but to what extent?

Is it even possible to fathom the economy of scale of the US consumer market when you are not familiar with it? How do you explain the “volume-of-choice” available to the US consumer, when all choice spectrums, from where to buy, to what to buy, to how to buy are so much broader than anywhere else?

We know this landscape like the back of our hand. Since 2006, MAGNETIC has navigated the treacherous waters of the US consumer market, guiding clients to success.

It's not just about victories (and we have those, boasting case studies with decade-long success stories for brands like Nexgrill, Vizio, Chili's, Ford and many more); it's about learning from the battles lost, the ones that fueled our expertise.

This hard-earned knowledge underpins our strong opinions on what truly wins in this fiercely competitive arena.


Understanding the Competitive Retail Landscape in the US

The crux of the matter is that an in-depth understanding of the retail & competitive landscape, the retail buyers' motivation/considerations, and the consumers' behaviors/purchase drivers -  wrapped in a sophisticated strategy- is not optional, it’s your ticket to play.

Winning requires a level of disciplined execution that not everyone is built for, that many don’t understand, and that most underestimate.

To understand our thinking and approach, you need to understand the largest differences between the US and other global markets first:

There are 31m+ small businesses and brands competing for the US retail buyers' attention (chew on that).


You can surely imagine how hard it would be to get a meeting with this buyer, let alone an actual listing. Here comes the real challenge:  

Unlike many other markets across the globe, the battle is not won when you get a key listing. The real battle lies in driving sales in-store and being able to prove your value and influence as a brand to both the buyer/retailer and consumer alike. If you're thinking that you can rely on the retailer’s in-store efforts and basic marketing / promotional activities to drive the volume of sales required to not get delisted, you need to think again.

It’s your brand's responsibility to make the retailer see and feel that your brand is a good strategic partner, a partner that understands how to appeal to its audience, understands the landscape and can grow & influence in-store sales.

We’ll get into a few tactics on how to do this down below, but for now, the point is that understanding this expectation, planning for it, budgeting for it and having a strategy in place for execution, will not only get you the listing you want (the buyer cares more about your brand's ability to support and drive sales than your product), it will also get you and the buyer the growth and sale-through you both need.  

A key nuance to understand about US retailers

The retailers have a large variety of marketing opportunities available for the brands they stock. So much so that most retailers manage this as a completely separate revenue model for themselves.

This is the next challenge brands need to understand. Using only the retailer's available marketing tactics/channels is a very dangerous and often ineffective approach.

Without going into too much detail (this can be another blog on its own), all I can say is that you do not want to ever find yourself in a situation where all your sales are reliant on the retailer's efforts.

If your brand does not own equity and influence, the retailer does not need you, and you are nothing more than a product, which is always easy to replace or squeeze dry.

Your margins will remain under extreme pressure, and your marketing contribution will keep growing, without the margins or sales growing in accordance. We have seen this on more than one occasion.  

So, if what I’m saying is that your brand holds the power to influence physical purchases in-store, the next question needs to be how. It takes more than a few ads and hoping for the best.

Here are a few high-impact, lower-cash-investment ideas on where to start

1. Focus your Brand Narrative on Relevance:

Don't just sell a product, sell an experience and a set of values.

Remember that the average US consumer is highly educated, with too much choice and very little time. If you don’t find a way to connect with their identities and values, someone else will get picked up from the shelf.

With McKinsey’s & Deloitte’s recent research suggesting that a customer is 3-4x more likely to recommend a connected brand, with a 2x higher return purchaser rate (70% higher lifetime value), it is very hard not to prioritize your brand's relevance and ability to connect.

Develop engaging online content that showcases your brand's unique story, personality, and commitment to quality and sustainability (Value for Money (93%), Quality (91%) and Trust (90%) are currently the three primary consumer purchase drivers in the US according to the Edelman Trust Barometer 2023).

Use informative blog posts, captivating product demonstrations, and authentic social media interactions that build a genuine connection with your audience.

Remember, consumers connect with brands they trust and resonate with. Overall, having a relevant and connected brand isn't just a feel-good exercise; it's a strategic choice with measurable positive outcomes for both the retailer and your bottom line.

2. Balance Community Engagement & Footprint Size:

A large social following with low engagement is immediately perceived by retailers and consumers as fake. High engagement rates with a small footprint have no impact and very little value.

A large community footprint with high engagement is ample proof to the retailer that you can move the needle in-store.

Social media isn't just a one-way street. Cultivate genuine interactions with your target audience by responding to comments, hosting live Q&As, and running interactive contests. Build a community of brand advocates who champion your products online, influencing others to join the movement.

By fostering this organic word-of-mouth marketing, you create a powerful force that drives both online engagement and in-store foot traffic.

3. Tactically direct online search traffic to in-store foot traffic:

You need to make online discovery seamless. Optimize your website and social media profiles for local search. Integrate click-and-collect options and ensure accurate store locators across all platforms.

Remember, a smooth online-to-offline journey is crucial for converting online interest into physical purchases. Remember, 73% of shoppers research online before buying in-store (National Retail Federation).

If you can prove to your retail partners that you are harvesting clients from online search traffic and directing it to their stores, it’s a major benefit to them and an overall win-win for you both.  

4. Leverage Strategic Partnerships:

Partner with influencers who embody your brand values and resonate with your target audience. Don't chase follower numbers; seek authentic connections and genuine product endorsements.

These collaborations can create a buzz that drives foot traffic and in-store sales, while simultaneously building trust and credibility with potential customers.

Learning how to apply micro-influencer geo-targeting is another powerful way to show your retail partners that you understand how to impact sales on floor level.  

5. Nurture Leads with Valuable Content:

Capture email addresses through engaging lead magnets like exclusive offers or early access to new products. Then, nurture those leads with valuable content that educates, inspires, and ultimately, drives them towards your retail partners.

Think of targeted email campaigns highlighting in-store promotions or showcasing user-generated content from happy customers. By providing value and building trust, you increase the likelihood of conversion when they encounter your products in retail stores.

6. Invest in Targeted Advertising:

Various studies confirm (Statista, Deloitte, Nielsen, Doofinder) that 60%+ of all media time for US adults is spent on Digital Media. Utilize social media ads and search engine marketing (SEM) campaigns to reach shoppers actively searching for products like yours.

Retarget website visitors who showed interest but haven't converted yet. Remember, data-driven targeting is key to maximizing your advertising budget and reaching the right audience.

Also remember that Social Media ads driving in-store purchases grew by 82% in just two years (Socialbakers), making this a very powerful channel to optimize and prove your worth to your retail partners.

The Result? A Win-Win for Everyone

By implementing the above marketing strategies, you'll not only drive consumers to your retail partners but you will also prove your ability to influence sales. A powerful combination.

This translates to stronger relationships with retailers, easier access to coveted shelf space, and ultimately, higher profits for your brand. Remember, retailers want partners who can move products, not just take up space.

Be the brand that shows them you have the power to turn clicks into loyal customers and ringing registers.

If you're looking for a Consumer Goods Branding & Marketing Agency to support you with actionable insights and the required infrastructure and expertise to effectively launch and/or grow your brand in the US Consumer Goods space, please reach out to us. We love a challenge and people who are willing to take it on.   

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