Consumer goods & retail

Arthur D. Little’s Consumer Goods & Retail practice (CGR) operates globally across the entire ADL office network, with hubs in US, Japan, Germany, Sweden and UK.

Together with our Consumer Health team the practice employs more than 60 specialists, plus an established network of over 50 regular associates. Over the last few decades Arthur D. Little has worked with most of the world’s leading CGR companies.

We work regularly across the entire CGR value chain from ingredients and raw materials through to manufacture, packaging, distribution, retail and food service.

We have broad experience across the consumer goods sector including agricultural commodities, food & beverage manufacturing, food ingredients, catering, consumer health, consumables, cosmetics, toiletries, textiles and fashion.

Our services in CGR focus especially on: Incubating breakthrough innovation; New step-out business creation; Vision and future insights; Strategic planning; Finding new growth; Digital solutions and transformation; M&A support; and Performance Excellence, including R&D, Procurement, Marketing, Commercial and Quality management.

Breakthrough Incubator - New step-out business creation

Many established consumer good companies are struggling to find new growth in the light of trends such as changing consumer mindsets and preferences, millennials looking for personalization and authenticity, increased market share from multiple niche players, and stagnating demand in established markets. Delivering new growth outside the core business is at the top of the CEO agenda for most major players.

Our Breakthrough Incubator service is a unique and powerful approach for creating and delivering new step-out businesses. Using this approach Arthur D. Little acts as lead delivery partner in a fully externalized incubator process managing a network of other players, covering end-to-end innovation from ideation through to consumer insight, concept and product development, prototype manufacture, in-market testing, packaging development, brand development, operational and supply chain planning and launch.

This external incubator approach offers huge benefits to our consumer goods clients, including lower costs, faster speed to market, elimination of brand constraints, removal of ‘not invented here’ barriers, agile development approach and full integration of consumer, technology, commercial, operational and strategic inputs.


Vision and future insights

Designing a unique and differentiating company vision – a “Sense of purpose” - is becoming key for consumer goods companies in a fast-moving environment in which core products and services can no longer be assumed to be stable in the long-term. Our “Why Strategy” approach helps consumer goods companies to establish an enduring differentiated vision, and to make this a reality through every aspect of the company’s activities.

Anticipating the future is critically important for a robust consumer goods strategy. Our forecasting and horizon scanning approaches use latest analytical tools together with expert insights, triangulating from a range of sources to identify key drivers and trends, modelling their impact on the consumer goods value chain, and prioritizing their strategic importance.

Strategic Planning

In today’s business world traditional rigid multi-year strategic approaches are increasingly inadequate. Companies need to respond increasingly rapidly to disruptions and opportunities caused by major trends such as blurring of business boundaries, increasing expectations on speed to market, changing customer mindsets, rapid start-up growth and digitalization.

Our approach to strategic planning is purpose-driven, and focuses on:

  • Ensuring clarity and robustness of purpose and means of competitive advantage
  • Providing deep insight and foresight into consumer and customer trends.
  • Aligning a dynamic product/service portfolio, innovating around new ways of creating customer value beyond the core business
  • Developing and nurturing diverse partner ecosystems
  • Designing organizational models that enable ambidextrous focus on creativity and control
  • Establishing an agile culture that accepts complexity and expects constant change and realignment, including strategy and portfolio.

Finding new growth

Many companies need external perspectives and competences to identify new growth opportunities in adjacent or converging sectors. Our approach to finding new non-core growth is proven over hundreds of successful assignments:

  • Well-proven analytical approach based on in-depth industry insights into key market, consumer and technology trends
  • Latest best practice digital tools and technologies for intelligence gathering and data analysis
  • Systematic evidence-based opportunity characterization, assessment, screening and selection
  • Articulation of future solution promises based on thorough understanding of the company’s to-be competencies and technologies
  • Strong focus on robust business case development including go-to-market, partner identification and transaction support
  • Translate findings into an executable growth roadmap
  • Practical implementation planning including piloting, organization, processes, culture change, resources and tools
  • Can be extended to include new business creation & launch (see Breakthrough Incubator)

Digital solutions and transformation

The consumer good industry is being transformed by digital technology, including the shift to online, digital enablement of all channels, consumer personalization, big data analytics, connected products and devices, digital marketing, new manufacturing and supply chain technologies, new point of sale/point of consumption technologies and many others.

Arthur D. Little has broad and deep digital capabilities to help consumer goods companies stay ahead as the pace of change continues to accelerate, including:

  • Formulating key challenges, experimenting with proofs of concept and designing/scaling out new digital solutions and business models
  • Identifying, assessing and implementing new digital technology applications, including consumer insight, point of sale, customer experience, marketing, operations and product/service design
  • Integrating developing technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Augmented Reality and Blockchain as part of user-driven solutions
  • Applying agile approaches and innovative digital solutions as an alternative to costly, complicated and inflexible enterprise system changes

M&A support

Arthur D. Little has extensive experience in transaction support across the consumer good industry. We can support you throughout the transaction process, including:

  • Helping prepare robust business plans that explaining the full potential of a business
  • Undertaking business-plan reviews (commercial due diligence and, in specific areas, technical due diligence) for vendors and acquirers.

We typically work with (rather than as) the investment-banking corporate finance advisor to maximize our clients’ prospects for success. For further information refer to:

Performance Excellence

Arthur D. Little offers a range of services to achieve performance excellence for consumer goods companies, focusing especially on R&D, Procurement, Marketing, and Quality functions:

  • R&D: There are many pressures on R&D functions to demonstrate added-value and business alignment. We have expensive experience of working with the R&D functions of consumer goods companies on organization and operating models, efficiency improvement, portfolio rationalization and benchmarking
  • Procurement: We help companies in a range of aspects of procurement excellence including benchmarking, value sourcing, agile supply chain, and transparency
  • Marketing: We help consumer goods companies in a wide range of areas, including consumer/market insight, digital marketing, sales effectiveness, customer management, pricing channel strategies, brand strategies and operating models
  • Quality: We have a long track record in improving quality and food safety management, including quality strategies, benchmarking, operating models, and standards rationalisation/simplification