When news broke last spring about Amazon’s courtship of some of the world’s biggest consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands, it touched off a wave of speculation. Did the e-commerce giant simply see an untapped opportunity for its fulfillment solution? Or was it engaged in a longer game to alter the relationships between consumer goods makers and their brick-and-mortar retail partners?

However it plays out, Amazon’s outreach exposed a digital divide in the consumer products world. On one side is the growing interest of brands in direct-to-consumer (D2C) models. On the other side are persistent worries about conflict — not just with traditional distribution channels but also with retailers carrying the brand. To bridge this gap, we identified seven dimensions in this Executive Insights along which a variety of pioneering brands have arrived at an effective digital strategy. 

  1. Understand how digital serves different consumer segments
  2. Use the right digital channels
  3. Add value to the consumer
  4. Look for measures that matter 
  5. Make room for new technologies
  6. Keep the online conversation going
  7. Find a way to work with third-party retail channels