As we enter into the season of Thanksgiving here in the U.S., I’ve been reflecting on the past year. It hasn’t been easy. It has been one challenge after another for many, as if we’re on a treadmill that just won’t stop. But when we do take a minute to pause and step outside of the challenges and setbacks, I can see that while there is so much we’d like to put behind us from this past year, there is also so much we can be grateful for.

I have been especially heartened over the past year as I watch my colleagues in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry. Without a doubt, CPG has faced some enormous challenges over the past year. Some may have seemed impossible to overcome—yet retailers and suppliers pushed on and turned challenges into opportunities. And it’s because of that perseverance that I find myself with such gratitude toward this industry that I love and in which I’ve made my career. In fact, I find that I have several things I’m grateful for from the CPG industry this year. Here are a few.

1. I’m grateful for the adaptability of the CPG industry.

When the U.S. went under an almost nationwide stay-at-home order this past spring, the CPG industry was one of the first and hardest hit. On the one hand, sales were skyrocketing thanks to pandemic shopping binge-buying any manner of items. On the other hand, we were about to enter one of the prime tradeshow times for the industry, when new products launch and retailers and suppliers have the chance to meet and connect face to face. As retailers were scrambling to keep store shelves stocked, they—and their suppliers—actively transformed their digital presence to keep business rolling. The speed with which so many organizations were able to pivot and adapt their processes was astounding and impressive, and the creativity so many brands and retailers leveraged to not only survive, but actually thrive, makes me grateful to work in an industry where innovation plays such an important part in success. 

2. I’m thankful for commitment to new product sourcing.

When the pandemic hit, and consumer shopping behaviors started to shift greatly, it would have been so easy for retailers to simply stick to their regular processes, and wait out production and shipping delays. Easy, but not the best business solution, especially when they recognized that out of stocks of their typical items showed that consumers were willing to give new brands and products a try. Brands and retailers alike ventured into uncharted territory when it came to product sourcing, taking it all online since the tradeshows, as mentioned above, had been canceled. At RangeMe, we saw a steep uptick in activity on both the buyers and supplier side. Across multiple platforms, brands ran virtual campaigns and retailers held virtual events, all in the name of new product discovery. Consumers will always want new products, and savvy brands and retailers know this, and will continue to push discovery now and in the future, which is vital to our industry.

3. I’m thankful for continued supplier innovation.

There’s no doubt about it—life will never look like it did before the pandemic again. And I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, as it’s forced brands to innovate and take a fresh look at their new product development. Innovation throughout this pandemic has been so critical to success in CPG, and brands have really stepped up, rolling out new products that fit our new way of living, and in some cases developing and defining entirely new categories (personal virus protection comes to mind!).

New product innovation is what keeps CPG humming, and to see it in action is inspiring. I’m excited to see where it will go and what new products, categories, and trends may come from it.  

I encourage all of you to take a moment to look for the things, big or small, that you are grateful for this year. Dig deep if you have to! They are there, I promise you. The New Year is just around the corner, and I do not doubt that it will bring challenges, of course, but also opportunities. Let’s not let this past year define us, but instead use it as an opportunity to build and grow on the foundation that 2020 helped us establish.

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