6 surprises from big CPG in 2018

Small is the new big, and other twists in the world of consumer packaged goods

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Credit: iStock/Composite by Ad Age

Packaged goods, once all about giants, has had a head-spinning year.

Small is the new big

The biggest packaged-goods players are racing to act more like the startups eating their lunches, including small teams at Johnson & Johnson, which helped reinvent the Johnson's Baby brand, and Procter & Gamble Co.'s launch of 140 seed-stage experiments, including brands in new categories.

They're good at new ventures

The biggest players have a better chance to work like successful venture funds than smaller, more-focused rivals because they can place more bets across more categories.

The era of SKU purging is over

Efficiency in CPG used to mean the annual purge of marginal items, but the explosion of experimental products and brands is now outweighing the effect.

P&G embraces small agencies

P&G's consolidation efforts are yielding to a big bang of small-shop experimentation. P&G's Flow model, adopted this year, opens project assignments to the likes of Badger & Winters, the Stagwell Group and more to come.

Pete Blackshaw leaves Nestlé for home

Nestlé's global digital chief had long talked about returning to Cincinnati, where he worked for P&G and Nielsen. Still, it was a surprise when and how he actually did it, becoming CEO of Cintrifuse, a Cincinnati startup hub.

CPGs get high on cannabis

Big brewers are still trying to solve their craft beer problem, but they're not letting the cannabis market get away from them without a fight. Some moves included Molson Coors' cannabis drink joint venture and Constellation Brands' 9.9 percent stake in a Canadian marijuana company.

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