22 October 2009

The power of the shelf

Much has been written about the rise and rise of retailers: the slotting fees they charge manufacturers, their influence over marketing of CPG products, and more recently the budgets devoted to Shopper Marketing.

Over the years I’ve watched this trend and appreciated the power of the shelf. On two previous CPG assignments I helped develop really powerful TV advertising that fell flat in the market because my client’s product wasn’t adequately distributed or merchandised (their version of the story, not mine).

Some of you manage only advertising, some only retail, some both and some neither. But all of you must keep in touch with what happens “on the street”.

Yesterday I spent the day with my clients checking stores in a medium-sized Midwestern city. Three things struck me.

The Reality of the shelf. Strategy back at the office means little if your product is not placed or merchandised well. This is very obvious, but admit it – how often do you really get out of that office and make a point of seeing what shoppers really see? My client and I had been discussing a portfolio management issue and based on what we saw in a dozen Food, Mass and DIY stores, both of us had our perspective changed at least a little.

The Clarity if the shelf. Many marketing questions are hard to answer from a spreadsheet. Under the luminescence of 400-watt halide lighting, however, it all becomes so clear. Yesterday I realized our pricing might be backwards and a contemplated new product launch has two existing products in its frame of reference I really hadn’t considered thoroughly enough.

The Power of Collaboration. Our traveling team was a mix of marketers, salespeople, data analysts, a researcher and yours truly. Discussing issues in the store and away from the office really drove new thinking.

I'll write a lot more about retail and shopper marketing in future posts. For now, see the above photo -- a cold and flu program at Kroger that offered real value to consumers. An excellent example of shopper marketing -- nicely done.

Get out on the street and see the power of the shelf.

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