Remember when life was simple—when the most challenging puzzle involved paper, a colored pencil and picture requiring you to simply connect the dots. A new Information Resources report says more than 80% of shoppers visit three or more channels to carry out their CPG shopping journey—and, as more nodes crop up along the path to purchase, capturing shoppers’ attention and wallet will become increasingly complex.

This tells me manufacturers—including product development leaders—need more help connecting the dots of marketing and distribution with relevant new products and packaging. And IRI’s Susan Viamari, editor, Thought Leadership, says you should focus on value. “Following years of economic trials, the ‘golden ring’ of CPG shopping is value,” she says. “…Retailers and manufacturers must provide value to each and every shopper through individualized targeting and flawless execution.”

IRI’s latest Times & Trends report is titled “Channel Migration: The Road to Growth Has Many Lanes.” It evaluates retail channel sales, by segment, and then notes that trip mission patterns have changed considerably during the past several years. The club channel is getting more of its dollars from pantry stock-up missions, and the drug channel is playing more of a fill-in role. These shifts underscore the channel-blurring phenomenon.

In addition, the grocery channel has lost share in core food and beverage departments, including refrigerated, general foods and beverages. Club is winning in beverages and general food, while also gaining nearly one-half share point in liquor. Mass/super lost ground in a number of departments, including home care and general merchandise, once again to the benefit of club. The dollar channel is holding steady across major departments, with slight up-ticks here and there, such as gains in beauty.

IRI says these are the top-growth categories by channel:

• Grocery: Coffee, refrigerated meat, spirits/liquor
• Drug: Cold/allergy/sinus liquids, lip treatment, wine
• Mass/Super: Coffee, refrigerated meat, yogurt
• Dollar: Cigarettes, frozen dinners/entrees, milk
• Club: Refrigerated salad/coleslaw, snack nuts/seeds/corn nuts, yogurt
• Internet (pick up/mail order): Coffee, dog food, weight control
• Internet (delivery): Canned fruit, deli meat, canned beans

“Consumer engagement and the CPG journey have forever changed,” Viamari concludes. “CPG marketers must adopt a strong multi-channel relevance, including a strong and seamless digital presence, or they will undoubtedly become obsolete. To ensure growth, marketers must execute well against four key strategies: protect and grow the base; maintain solid availability against existing and evolving channel preferences and behaviors; optimize marketing mix by media and retail channel; and develop channel-specific products and packages.”