How to keep your brand on supermarket shelves

supermarket 22018 has been a tough year for retailers and 2019 doesn’t look to be much easier – but what about the brands supplying these retailers? Not only are brands jostling for consumer attention, they also have to work extremely hard to get the buy-in from the buyer in the first place. And nowhere is this more challenging than in the FMCG sector where increasing competition is ripe. So how can brands ensure they maintain their on-shelf presence?

Start at the beginning

From the early development stage, brands need to be sure they are creating meaningful products that are going to appeal to today’s savvy, price conscious consumers who are used to having everything at their fingertips. It may sound obvious but when it comes to the grocery sector, consumers are spoilt for choice; a loaf of bread is no longer just a loaf of bread – there are hundreds of different varieties making it critical for brands to identify who their customer is, what they want and how they shop.

Brands also need to think about not only how their business will grow but also how the brand will deliver growth to their retail partner and forging a close connection with the category buyers is key.

Develop customised ranges

Australia has a diverse and multicultural population, which influences the way we shop. With improvements to technology and the growing accessibility of data, brands and retailers need to partner together to consider how they can tailor ranges to suit what customers want. This doesn’t mean expanding product ranges but focusing more closely on the features that their local customers actually require for a more targeted approach.

Retailers have a responsibility to stock products that appeal to their locations’ demographic and age, salary and ethnicity all play a crucial role in what type of groceries make it onto supermarket shelves. Brands need to be in touch with what makes their ranges appealing to these different demographics. For example, a large university town with cash-poor students may be price sensitive when it comes to groceries, but they are also likely to be more socially responsible and prepared to spend a premium for locally grown, organic groceries; supermarket category buyers are attuned to this and will seek products that appeal to their local customers.

Build store engagement

Brands need to make sure they are engaging the retailer at every level; it’s no longer good enough to simply liaise with head office. Getting to know critical stakeholders within the entire supply chain to shelf is crucial.

At the end of the day, field marketing has become more about how brands engage more effectively in store and the more you can help store managers understand where opportunities exist and support to action, the more successful your products will be at satisfying the needs of the customer and retailer and therefore endure greater success in the category. This is why the trend for brands to outsource their field marketing is on the rise.

We have access to software analytics and the ability to spread staff further to ensure they are visiting stores in response to a genuine need, rather than just simply scheduling a repeat visit.  Field marketing agents are in stores three, maybe four times a week building relationships while addressing the needs of many different products. This gives us valuable insight into what works well from an activation point of view which we can then share with the retailer.

Ultimately, the buyers want to work with brands who understand their business and will work with them strategically as partners to drive growth objectives. Field marketing agents are increasingly positioned to do this through market intelligence and greater resourcing abilities.

Andrew Bosco, Director of Client Service – Grocery, Crossmark.

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