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Filling Digital and Social Shelf Space

June 28, 2012 by Newsfeed Editor  
Filed under Friday Focus, What's in store

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The members of NARMS, professional at-retail merchandising and marketing companies, are adept at helping retailers and manufacturers fill their shelf space at various channels around the world. The advent and widespread use of e-commerce and social media has provided another challenge for trading partners. There is a now a digital shelf space that needs to be filled and monitored. The June issue of Competitive Edge by Willard Bishop does a nice job of breaking it all down and provides and analysis of who is doing this well among top 25 food retailers.

It is important to understand how trading partners are engaging in digital and social media sites. According to Competitive Edge, trading partner uses and consumer interest in these sites are in very close alignment. Of course manufacturers and retailers use e-commerce, but here are their reasons beyond selling: advertising and promotion, public relations, customer service, market research and product development. For consumers it is much the same: search for coupons and deals, seek advice, identify with brand, feel connected and seek customer service.

There are two very important and equal components to most digital and social media approaches. The first is the obvious outbound marketing and advertising campaigns. The not-so-obvious, but opportunity rich component is in a social media monitoring campaign. An active monitoring campaign can provide many customer service opportunities and shopper data information.

What is the tie-in with at-retail? With trading partners being so engaged in digital and social media, it is even more important that their physical spaces be in compliance with their on-line position. Many of the initiatives that you are performing for clients right now may be in direct connection with social media monitoring observations or patterns. Not to mention the ramifications of bad on-line reviews from customers.

How is your company helping its customers fill and merchandise the digital and social media shelves? It is an analogy worth thinking about.

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Back to School to Buoy Buying

June 21, 2012 by Newsfeed Editor  
Filed under Friday Focus, What's in store

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Building on last week when we reported information from both the U.S. Commerce Department and the National Retail Federation, more information came out today that predicts a healthier future for retail and the economy. A story from DSN Retailing Today reports that back-to-school spending is projected to be higher than last year.

According to a PriceGrabber survey, 46 percent of shoppers are planning to spend more than they did last year and 35 percent said they are planning to spend the same. Only 19 percent said they plan to spend less. This is compared to 35 percent who said they planned to spend less in 2011.

As was the case a year ago, shoppers plan to spread out these purchases throughout the summer. Seventeen percent will start shopping for back-to-school in June, 35 percent in July and 44 percent said would wait until September. This continues a trend of consumers stretching out the shopping season for major holidays and shopping seasons. According to the story, it is a reaction to a continued desire to take advantage of retailer promotions and discounts.

The signs point to seasonal sections and displays getting set-up earlier and earlier. It puts an emphasis on roll-outs and new product introductions as retailers and manufacturers capitalize on the trend and seek the sales lift sooner.

For the members of the at-retail merchandising and marketing service industry, there is an opportunity to provide the solution as trading partners will want to talk about these initiatives sooner and perhaps want to cut down on the amount of time allowed to execute. Look for speed to shelf to take on a new and heightened importance to your customers.

Retail Sales Bring Hope

June 14, 2012 by Newsfeed Editor  
Filed under Friday Focus, What's in store

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Both the National Retail Federation (NRF) and the U.S. Department of Commerce came out with May retail sales figures this week. The results are not overwhelmingly positive, but according to a story in DSN Retailing Today, it all depends on how you look at it. As the story points out, retail is the first industry that truly experiences how consumers are feeling about the economy and there seems to be signs of hope.

At first blush, it seems consumers have slowed their spending. The NRF reports that May retail sales have dropped 0.3 percent seasonally adjusted from April. However, they have increased 4.8 percent unadjusted year-over-year making 23 months of consecutive growth. The Commerce Department tells the same story reporting May retail sales down 0.2 percent adjusted compared to April, but up 7.1 percent unadjusted year-over year. The NRF number excludes automobile, gas and restaurants while the Commerce numbers include these things.

The NRF says that they are encouraged by the numbers and that consumers are taking a breather from strong first quarter spending. They expect retailers to be cautious with inventory and promotions ushering in a huge back to school season. Back to school is traditionally the second biggest time of the year for retail.

Here are some others highlights from these economic reports. Clothing and clothing accessories sales increased 7.3 percent year-over-year. Electronics and appliance sales increased 1.2 percent. Furniture and home furnishing sales increased 11.4 percent. Health and personal care sales increased 3.1 percent.

It is always helpful for members of the at-retail merchandising and marketing industry to keep our fingers on the pulse of economy as our customers, retailers and CPG manufacturers, are on the front line and feel the impact first. It is the best way to anticipate and plan for their ongoing service needs. You can read the DSN Retailing Today story by clicking here.

Introducing Rhonda Bauer, New Sr. Director of Marketing and Trade Relations

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Another exciting week at NARMS as the Association for at-retail merchandising and marketing service companies announced that Rhonda Bauer will be coming on board as the new Senior Director of Marketing and Trade Relations. Bauer will have primary responsibility for the ongoing marketing and branding of NARMS International and will provide valuable counsel and support to Executive Director Tom Caddell.

Bauer comes to NARMS with as strong track record for developing fully integrated strategic and tactical marketing programs and campaigns. Bauer is an accomplished senior marketing executive with extensive experience in branding, marketing, advertising and public relations. Twenty plus years of agency leadership honed her skills as she developed and implemented results-driven marketing programs for national corporations, regional companies and entrepreneurial, family-owned businesses.

She has been actively involved with numerous organizations, including SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise), IFA (International Franchise Association), AAF (American Advertising Federation) and many other local associations. Bauer has published more than a dozen articles and her marketing contributions are broadly represented in many facets of the consumer goods and services arena.

Among her many duties at NARMS will be to develop and execute a comprehensive marketing plan that measures and evaluates the value and return of NARMS resources to the members and the industry. Bauer will develop Association communications, public relations and trade relations with the goal of advocating for the increasingly high standards of the at-retail service industry and its individual members. She will also be the primary liaison between the Association and the Independent Food Brokers (IFBA) division.

You will be seeing and hearing a lot more from Rhonda in the weeks and months ahead. In the meantime, you can reach her via email at: [email protected] She will be located in Colorado at the new NARMS headquarters at NARMS International, 2095 West 6th Ave, Suite 213#, Broomfield, Co 80020. The new headquarters will officially open on July 1.

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NARMS Webinar Series Returns with NARMScertifyU

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If you missed the sessions at the 2012 Retail Merchandising and Marketing Conference (RMMC), or if you would like hear more about the official on-line training tool of NARMS, you will want to tune in to the next NARMS Webinar. The highly popular Webinar Series makes its return on Tuesday, June 5 at 11:00 AM CDT with NARMScertifyU: What’s in it for U? (Members only)

The topics for the last few weeks in this blog and in Top Shelf have been data and developments in the retail world that support the importance of excellent in-store execution of merchandising and at-retail marketing initiatives. The margin for error for retailers and manufacturers is shrinking and the need for trained field reps is at a premium. NARMScertifyU is a valuable resource to augment your current training program and to help your field reps enhance their skills and marketability.

This webinar will give you a brief overview of NARMScertifyU and the value that this service can add to your company. We will discuss the goals and objectives of NARMScertifyU, what the industry experts are saying, and of course, how to get started. In addition, we will discuss how using the Recruiter to filter for NARMScertifyU candidates will ensure you find qualified employees faster.

Fiona Lipscomb, NARMS Director of Member Relations and Communications, will be facilitating the webinar, and will be joined by Heather Johnson and Scot Maurath from NARMSCertifyU to answer all your questions via the ReadyTalk webinar chat tool.

Trading partners are raising their game at retail. NARMS members and their field reps need to keep pace, upholding the very highest of industry standards. The session is complimentary to NARMS members as a value added membership service. We encourage you to share this invitation with anyone who might gain value from this information-sharing opportunity. Click here to register now!

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CPG Success

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According to a new report by Catalina Marketing, 1.5 percent of shoppers determine the success or failure of a new CPG product. The findings of the report add to a flurry of recent data that support the absolute need for superior execution of at-retail merchandising and marketing services. The study looked at the purchasing behavior of 41 million consumers at 20,000 food, drug and mass stores. Here are a few of the top line observations from the report:

Just 1.5 percent of shoppers made up 80 percent of volume for the average new product in the study.

These shoppers were worth 1.6 times the value of the average new product buyer.

Top category buyers were 3.8 times more likely to try a new product than the average shopper.

Top brand buyers were 5.8 times more likely to try a new brand extension in the category.

Top category and brand buyers repeated at a significantly higher rate, 19 percent and 28 percent greater than average.

The battle for market share goes on daily at-retail. These findings show that the top category shoppers that are responsible for a large percentage of sales are also way more likely to shift brands if they encounter shelf conditions like out-of-stocks, missing shelf labels or distribution voids. They are also highly open to sampling new products.

These are just a few of the nuggets of information contained in the report. You can download your copy here. The bottom line is that the data seems to support the notion that just a small amount of shoppers drive the success of a new product. That makes the target small, concentrated and way too valuable to risk by failing to execute at the store and shelf level.

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Buying Decisions are Highly Visual

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A colleague recently described at-retail merchandising and marketing services as being a visual yet invisible force. Visual in that the results of high quality, professional in-store execution of sales building promotion and operational initiatives are immediately noticed by the shopper, the store manager and the brand. The invisible describes the purveyors of this craft who are really only noticed if these activities do not happen or if something goes wrong.

Some recent research on the importance of visual cues on buying decisions supports this theory. Drug Store News reported on a paper that will be published soon in the Journal of Marketing Research on how the consumer views extensions of premium brands. The paper finds that shoppers are more willing to switch or trade-up from second-tier brands to more premium brand extensions when they are supported by a picture of the product or are allowed to compare. These are just the type of elements that are included in POS materials, displays and product demos.

The visual cues take the consumer focus to the quality of the item and away from the traditional fit of the brand in a given category. That opens up the opportunity for brand extensions in new product categories. The use of these techniques is more likely to reveal the actual potential for a brand extension.

The paper points out that the door swings both ways. A higher quality brand will benefit from at-retail that encourages brand comparisons, while a lower quality brand may benefit from an in-store opportunity like an end-cap display which puts all the focus on the one brand.

The visible and visual cues provided by the efforts of the members of NARMS have a powerful influence over the buying decisions of increasingly selective consumers. They often perform these duties in the plain sight of consumers, but go unnoticed. You will only notice them if they are not there.

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Buying Decisions In-Store

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On Tuesday, we wrote about some mounting evidence that execution at-retail is more important than ever. In the mean time, POPAI released findings from its 2012 Shopper Engagement Study that add even more compelling data. Among the most eye-catching finding is that 76 percent of purchasing decisions are made in-store. This was one of five key findings of the study.

Although shoppers are more empowered than any other time before, they still depend on at-retail marketing and branding initiatives to make most of their buying choices. The 76 percent figure was based on pre and post shopping interviews. The message is clear that trading partners who value in-store marketing are at a key advantage.

Display activities seem to single out brands from their competition. Putting items on display seems to provide a head start to ending up in the shopping cart. The study found that nearly 1 in 6 brand purchases are made when a display with that brand is present in store. Going further into the research, displays geared toward female, stock-up shoppers enjoy the greatest success.

Retailers have plenty of opportunities to embrace techniques that can enhance the in-store experience. The study suggests using displays in secondary locations or working with suppliers to develop custom display material to enhance the experience. Retailers seem to be catching on. In 1995, 47 percent of displays were placed in secondary locations. That number has risen to 60 percent by 2012.

Creativity in at-retail marketing is important. The shopper has an overwhelming number of choices to make while in the store. Compelling and visual cues help to engage the value proposition of the product. Fifty-six percent of shoppers said they recall seeing in-store displays with endcap and free-standing being the most recognized. Capturing the consumer eye resulted in 66 percent turning into purchases.

Shoppers are not very accurate at planning their spend at-retail. Most miss their goal by 35 percent, either high or low. Even taking impulse items out of the equation, 57 percent still spend more than planned. Impulse item buyers spend over 200 percent more than they planned.

For members of the at-retail merchandising and marketing service industry, these five key findings point out one major overall message. The hearts and minds of shoppers are still there for the taking at the in-store level.

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Stunning Changes Ahead for Supermarkets

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It is not a newsflash that the 2012 FMI Conference is going on this week in Dallas. The trade press is covering it like a blanket with Supermarket News doing a particularly thorough job reporting on the event. Today, we will focus in on comments made by Leslie G. Sarasin, the president and chief executive officer of FMI.

If we read and listen closely, there is a call to be part of what Sarasin describes as stunning changes ahead for the industry. She says that retailers must adapt to changes in consumer attitudes and technology to survive and thrive. That sounds like good advice for the members of the at-retail merchandising and marketing service industry as well.

Among some of her remarks to a general session at the event: Conventional supermarkets are the choice of 64 percent of shoppers, which is the lowest level in years. The number of shoppers who look for discounts has risen from 60 to 80 percent, an increase of 19 million people. Fifty-five percent of shoppers are learning to live with less, a jump from 42 percent, or 15 million people. Shoppers who buy private label products rose to 78 percent from 64 percent, an increase of 16 million people.

Sarasin added that better than half of shoppers go online prior to one in four shopping trips or use mobile technologies in the store. Online purchases totaled $12 billion in 2010 and will reach $25 billion by 2014. Two percent of those purchases involved CPG products. Supercenters, dollar stores, convenience stores and clubs have added 150 million square feet since 2005, while traditional grocery stores have not increased square footage.

Regarding these game changing events, she says sometimes the limits in our own experiences prevent us from grasping the importance of what is happening right before our eyes. As service providers to retailers and to manufacturers, we must keep pace with the observations and resulting actions of our customers. It is then that the members of NARMS become agents of change.

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Helping New Products Beat the Odds

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According to the SymphonyIRI Group 2011 New Product Pacesetters report, new products are the lifeblood of the CPG industry, with 22 percent of consumers looking for new products to try. The Pacesetters report is an industry-recognized benchmark analysis of exceptional first-year CPG sales success for newly launched products. The report finds that successful launches and true innovation, regardless of the size of the manufacturer, are rooted in the ability to listen and respond to the consumer and gain an intimate knowledge of their needs and wants.

At-retail merchandising and marketing industry professionals know the kind of odds that new products are up against. They have been helping CPG manufacturers and retailers cut-in new products at the retail shelf for decades now. As the report points out, current economic conditions have made the environment even more difficult and complex.

Among sectors that had high levels of successful launches for 2011 was candy and gum. Successful launches in this sector accounted for 19 percent of food New Product Pacesetters dollars. For non-foods, innovative beauty and personal care products, green friendly household products, and enhanced pet-care products also made a dent.

Successful new product launches aim to bring innovative products to consumers and thereby increase brand loyalty and market share. Huge amounts of development dollars are spent to bring these products to market. Ironically, it is the last few feet to the shelf that often times contribute to the success or failure of a new product. For a fraction of the cost of the product development, assurances can be put into place to remove this variable.

The members of NARMS can help trading partners stack the deck and beat the odds by cutting-in new product on the shelf and making sure any supporting POP or end-cap displays are built within the time frame of a well coordinated launch. Professionally executed sampling and demos of new products have proven to be an effective tool in raising awareness for a new product. These services assure consistent roll-out across multiple geographies and multiple channels, bringing the sales lift and return-on-investment sooner.

Click here to download your copy of the SymphonyIRI Group 2011 New Product Pacesetters report.

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Events

Calendar items for NARMS:

Feb 10, 2013 - Feb 13, 2013
2013 NGA Show
Feb 10, 2013 - Feb 13, 2013
2013 Toy Fair
Feb 19, 2013 - Feb 22, 2013
87th Education & Trade Expo
Feb 20, 2013 - Feb 22, 2013
Global Pet Expo
Feb 26, 2013 - Feb 28, 2013
2013 Commercial Construction & Renovation Summit
Mar 02, 2013 - Mar 05, 2013
International Home & Housewares Show 2013
Mar 03, 2013 - Mar 06, 2013
Distribution Management Conference & Technology Expo 2013
Mar 07, 2013 - Mar 10, 2013
Natural Products Expo West 2013
Mar 07, 2013 - Mar 10, 2013
2013 CHPA Annual Executive Conference
Mar 17, 2013 - Mar 20, 2013
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