Jun 11, 2014 Loren Heinzeroth

Prepping For Retailer Line Reviews

We often hear that our clients' retail buyers begin a product line review meeting with challenge statements, focusing on price and other issues that can cast a bit of gloom before you've had a chance to present your new products and merchandising. To steer the meeting your way and capture/hold the buyer's attention from the onset, it is important to frame your presentation with research.

Here are a few research thought starters that may give you some new ammo to influence the agenda:

1) Customer profile research

Do you know who is buying your products at the retailer and why? You may be surprised! Many retailers serve their own unique niches. And those niches can vary by region, time of year, stage of life, consumer vs. pro and many other factors that can set a new direction for your assortment and POP message strategy.

2) Advertising spend study

This simple study can document which brands are doing the most to connect with customers in the category. Monitoring social media conversations about your channel can also be a great resource for discussion points.

3) Brand recognition survey

Best done annually to show key indices over time, this research tool might be used to illustrate the continuing strength of your brand, also uncovering factors that may keep the generics out of your turf.

4) Review of competitive retailers (comp shop)

Build data into your presentation by preparing a review of your products' pricing and position at other retailers. Have someone on your team visit stores and record pricing. This homework shows that you are interested in partnering with the retailer, keeping them and you in the game.

5) Product Velocity and Margin Analysis

Further demonstrate your willingness to partner by doing a thorough analysis of your product line's performance year-over-year. Then suggest some adjustments that would be good for the retailer. Example: effectively doubling turns by cutting case counts in half on items that may not be moving as well as others.

6) Packaging preference study

If you have more than one potentially effective approach for a packaging change, a new product launch, a planogram refresh or other variables, consider testing them in advance of your line review. The research method you choose may depend in part on the level of confidentiality required.

7) Test store program

Pre-testing different concepts at carefully selected locations can do the best job of predicting winners and weeding out losers. This involves close coordination with the retailer, of course. That can be a big plus of this tactic, as it may lend a sense of co-authorship.

8) Web traffic reports

There is often a gold mine in your own website's traffic reports, revealing insights on what visitors were searching before coming to your site, what pages they hit more than others, and more. Having this information at hand will provide some important talking points about online interest in your products. Retailers are concerned about being upstaged by Amazon and other online retailers. They are very receptive to discussing online strategies.

Published by Loren Heinzeroth June 11, 2014
Loren Heinzeroth