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Reading Comprehension for IBPS PO/RRB

Directions (Q. 1-10): Read the following passage carefully and answer the given questions. Certain words/phrases have been given in bold to help you locate them while answering some of the questions.
Manufacturers of consumer packaged goods (CPG) face two key challenges this year. The first is continued slow or negative growth in people’s disposable incomes. The second is changing consumer attitudes towards products and brands, as the great fragmentation of consumer markets takes another turn. In response, companies must dramatically shift the route they take to reach consumers in terms of both product distribution and communications. In many markets, consumer wages have been static for five years now. Even where economies are starting to perform better, the squeeze on after-tax wages, especially for the middle class younger people and families, is depressing consumer spending. Although growth in developing countries is still better than in the United States and Europe, a slowdown in emerging countries such as China – where many countries had hoped for higher sales – has translated quickly into lower-than-expected consumer spending growth.
Meanwhile, what we call the great fragmentation is manifested in consumer behaviour and market response. In both developed and emerging markets, there is a wider variety among consumers now than at any time in the recent past. Growth is evident both at the top of the market (where more consumers are spending for higher-quality food and other packaged goods) and at the lower end (where an increasing number of consumers are concentrating on value). But the traditional middle of the market is shrinking.
Further, individual consumer behaviour is more pluralistic. We are used to seeing, for example, spirits buyers purchasing a premium brand in a bar, a less costly label at home for personal consumption and yet another when entertaining guests. But this type of variegated shopping has now spread to the grocery basket as well. Fewer consumers are making one big stocking-up trip each week. Instead, shoppers are visiting a premium store and a discounter as well as a supermarket, in multiple weekly stops – in addition to making frequent purchases online. During recession, more shoppers became inclined to spend time hunting for bargains, and as some traditional tailers either went out of business or shuttered down, retail space was freed up and was often filled by convenience stores, specialty shops, and discounters.
A decade ago, CPG companies had only a handful of sales channels to consider: supermarkets, convenience stores, hypermarkets in advanced economies and traditional small and large retailers in emerging countries. Since then, various discounters have made significant inroads, including no-frills, low-variety outlets, such as Europe’s Aldi and Lidi, which sell a limited range of private label grocery items in smaller stores and massive warehouse clubs, such as Costco and Sam’s club, which initially operated solely in the US but are now expanding internationally. In addition, dollar stores, specialised retailers, and online merchants are having an impact on the CPG landscape. Economising consumers have been pleasantly surprised by the savings generated by spreading their business among multiple channels as well as by the variety and product quality they find.
The result has been greater demand for more products and brands, with different sizes, packaging and sales methods. At most CPG companies, SKUs are proliferating despite there being little increase in overall consumption. A better outcome can be seen at smaller food and beverage suppliers, which are benefiting from consumer demand for variety and authenticity. A recent ‘strategy & report’ found that in the US, small manufacturers (with revenues of less than US$ l billion) grew at twice the compound annual rate of large manufacturers (with revenues of more than $3 billion) between 2009 and 2012.
Consumers’ media usage has also fragmented with the rise of digital content and the proliferation of online devices. Each channel – from the Web, mobile and social sites to radio, TV, and print – has its own requirements, audience appeal and economics, needing specialised attention. But, at the same time, media campaigns need to be closely coordinated for effective consumer messaging.
Collectively, these shifts challenge the way CPG companies manage their brand and business portfolios and call for a rethinking of their go-to-market approach, with an emphasis on analytics. Our work with INSEAD shows that among business leaders, applying analytics – especially for tracking consumer behaviour and product and promotional performance - is considered one of the most effective ways to improve results and outpace the competition. But it’s not just about insight. It’s also about using the insight wisely to determine how to manage costs. The more knowledgeable about customer needs and preferences a company is, the smarter and more focused it must be in managing its own economics to cost-effectively deliver both variety and value to the squeezed consumer.
1. The central theme of the given passage is
1) The shrinking market
2) Shift towards offering luxury goods to consumers
3) Products to offer consumers with squeezed pockets
4) To highlight products consumed by the middle class
5) Gaining insight into changing consumer behaviour towards CPGs
2. In the context of the passage, which of the following trends existed otherwise but is now being manifested in buying groceries as well?
1) Consumers purchasing the same products for over a period of time
2) Consumers willing to purchase goods for a longer period of time
3) Consumers preferring luxury goods over regular goods
4) Consumers are more aware of their rights.
5) Consumers prefer buying goods from a variety of stores.
3. Which of the following is most nearly the OPPOSITE in meaning of the word ‘depressing’ as used in the passage?
1) encouraging
2) sunny
3) doubtful
4) light
5) nil
4. As mentioned in the passage, CPG companies may have to reassess their present strategies of operating to
(A) retain their customers.
(B) keep pace with changing consumer preferences as they have access to multiple media channels.
(C) make more cost-effective decisions.
1) Only (A)
2) Only (B)
3) All (A), (B) and (C)
4) Only (C)
5) Only (A) and (B)
5. Which of the following is True in the context of the passage?
1) In the US, during the three-year period after 2009, small manufacturers did not fare well as compared to their larger counterparts.
2) Impact on disposable incomes of people barely affects the CPG manufacturing industry.
3) Post-tax wages, especially for the middle class, is one of the critical factors which have reduced spending behaviour of consumers.
4) CPG has always been a favourite among consumers.
5) None of the given options is true.
6. Which of the following correctly explains the meaning of the phrase ‘a handful of’ as used in the passage?
1) Boundless
2) Planned
3) Satisfactory
4) Limited
5) Imperfect
7. As mentioned in the passage, one of the most critical factors that aids in catering to the needs of consumers is
1) persuading them to purchase goods produced by the organisation.
2) assessing their requirements and appropriately planning to meet them.
3) offering them products that an organisation regularly manufactures.
4) concentrating only on being aware about changing preferences of consumers
5) None of the given options.
8. Which of the following is most nearly the SAME in meaning as the word ‘shrinking’ as used in the passage?
1) developing
2) annoying
3) narrowing
4) wasting
5) rising
9. Which of the following is most nearly the SAME in meaning to the word ‘variegated’ as used in the passage?
1) diverse
2) composite
3) strong
4) narrow
5) valued
10. Which of the following is most nearly the OPPOSITE in meaning of the word ‘shuttered’ as used in the passage?
1) closed
2) retail
3) flourished
4) gratified
5) nearest

Answers:

  1. 5
  2. 5
  3. 1
  4. 4
  5. 3
  6. 4
  7. 2
  8. 3
  9. 1
  10. 3
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