Understanding the Consumer Goods Sector & How It Works

What Is the Consumer Goods Sector?

The consumer goods sector is a category of stocks and companies that relate to items purchased by individuals and households rather than by manufacturers and industries. These companies make and sell products that are intended for direct use by the buyers for their own use and enjoyment.

This sector includes companies involved with food production, packaged goods, clothing, beverages, automobiles, and electronics.

Key Takeaways

  • The consumer goods sector consists of companies that manufacture and sell products for consumer use. 
  • Marketing, advertising, and brand differentiation are key considerations for business strategy in this sector.
  • Technological trends are a powerful force across all aspects of the consumer goods sector.

Understanding the Consumer Goods Sector

Consumer goods can be broadly categorized as durable or nondurable, and the overall consumer goods sector can be broken down across many different industries. While some product types, such as food, are necessary, others, such as automobiles, are considered luxury items. In general, when the economy is growing, consumer demand grows and the sector will see an increased demand for higher-end products. When consumer demand shrinks, there is an increased relative demand for value products.

Many companies in the consumer goods sector rely heavily on advertising and brand differentiation. Performance in the consumer goods sector depends heavily on consumer behavior. Developing new flavors, fashions, and styles and marketing them to consumers is a priority.

Modern Internet technology has had an enormous and ongoing impact on the consumer goods sector. The ways products are manufactured, distributed, marketed, and sold have all evolved dramatically over the past few decades.

Consumer Goods Subsectors

The consumer goods sector includes a diverse array of varied industries. Everything that consumers buy and use can fall into this category, so understanding how their different characteristics can affect industry performance can be important.

Broadly, this sector can be divided into durable and nondurable goods. Some nondurable goods can be considered fast-moving consumer goods, which are packaged goods with high sales volume, rapid inventory turnover, and often short shelf lives, such as foods. Durable goods include many big-ticket consumer goods, such as cars, major appliances, and household electronics. 

Consumer goods may also be categorized as cyclical or non-cyclical. Consumer cyclicals are a category of stocks that rely heavily on the business cycle and economic conditions. Consumer cyclicals include industries such as automotive, housing, entertainment, and retail. Non-cyclicals also known as consumer staples are goods that are always in demand.

Marketing and Branding

Marketing, advertising, and brand differentiation are key considerations for companies in the consumer goods sector. Many consumer goods sector companies are faced with a range of close competitors, substitute goods, and potential rivals. Competition on price and quality is often fierce, so brand identification and differentiation are critical to consumer goods sector companies' performance. 


Technological advancement is at the heart of consumer goods sector industry trends. Technological advancement has revolutionized supply chains, marketing, and the products themselves in this sector. Continuous and interconnected supply chains are driving operational efficiencies. Using new technologies, many consumer goods sector companies are engaging with consumers in more direct and innovative ways.

Consumers research, purchase, and engage with brands digitally, and companies in this sector have to take this into account in their strategies. Consumer participation in brands has moved beyond just buying and consuming the products, with continuous consumer feedback and on-demand access to consumer data in real-time. Connectedness and interoperability of consumer products have become key selling points for companies in this sector.