Report Explores Challenges for Consumer Products

Total sales for the Top 250 consumer products companies exceeded $2.65 trillion in fiscal 2006, according to the inaugural "Global Powers of Consumer Products Industry" report from Deloitte. According to the report, sales grew by 8.4% for the year, although 16% of the companies actually experienced declining sales. Over a quarter (28%) of total sales were concentrated among the 10 largest companies, which reported combined sales of $751 billion. These companies grew slightly more than the average, at 8.6%, and were particularly strong when it comes to turning sales into profit. The Top 10 company's average profit margin of 7.4% compares favorably with 6% for the group as a whole.

North American companies dominate the list in terms of numbers and size. There are 94 North American companies in the Top 250 with average sales figures over $11 billion, the largest average of any of the regions. However, these companies also experienced the slowest sales growth at 7.4%. Companies in Africa and the Middle East grew fastest at 14.3%, followed by those in Asia Pacific (8.9%), Europe (8.8%) and Latin America (8.5%).

"U.S. companies are operating in a mature market, while those companies in emerging markets are growing rapidly off a smaller base," said Ira Kalish, Deloitte Research's Consumer business director. "The challenge for companies from the U.S. and Western Europe will be to identify markets in which to generate new growth. There is a shift in the balance of consumer spending globally. As the level of disposable income increases amongst the new middle classes from emerging nations, global consumer products companies may reap the benefit. Those most reliant on 'old world' markets may see a period of tightening."

In recent years there has been some consolidation in the retail sector, resulting in a smaller number of very large retailers. "It is likely that this trend will result in consolidation among consumer products suppliers," said Kalish. "The consumer products sector is moving to a position where there are too many suppliers in the market."

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