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SymphonyIRI Report Examines Merchandising Trends

January 22, 2013 by Newsfeed Editor  
Filed under RMMC2013, Top Shelf

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The consumer definition of value is a moving target. The widespread acceptance of online, mobile and social media marketing has gone a long way to shape the impressions of shoppers before they enter the store. Has this made traditional methods of at-retail merchandising obsolete? The January issue of Times & Trends by SymphonyIRI takes a look at current and emerging trends being embraced by CPG marketers in the ongoing battle to meet consumer needs.

This report defines merchandising activity as those employing feature ads, feature plus display, display only and price only tactics. According to the report, more than one-third of volume is sold with merchandising support across 39 percent of categories. Here are some other key findings:

-The pace of merchandising activity has been mixed during the past year, with 53 percent of categories seeing increased support. Within the drug channel, merchandising activity declined across 60 percent of categories, but support across key health and beauty care categories has risen more quickly versus the grocery channel.

-Growth in display only and price-only tactics has escalated, while combined feature/display activity has slowed.

-Merchandising activity is intensifying across many meal ingredient and meal component categories, particularly in frozen foods and fresh/perishable categories.

-In general, private brands receive less merchandising support versus their name-brand competitors.

-Merchandising programs that begin to impact the shopper in the home are having a powerful impact on sales lift.

-CPG marketers are adopting new strategies aimed at capitalizing on new technologies and building more targeted, impactful relationships with consumers.

Certainly, the merchandising tactics employed by CPG manufacturers and retailers have a direct effect on the members of the at-retail merchandising and marketing service industry who often act as their outsourced execution arm in stores. Times & Trends dives much more deeply into these trends than we can share here, so you should download your copy here.

Staying on top of trends that shape the industry is an important mission of NARMS. This commitment will be on full display at The 2013 Retail Merchandising and Marketing Conference (RMMC) to be held on April 27-30 in Scottsdale, Arizona. Visit the official conference website for more information and to register.

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Putting Center Store Front and Center

January 3, 2013 by Newsfeed Editor  
Filed under Friday Focus, What's in store

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CPG manufacturers in all categories and channels are always looking for ways to differentiate their products to gain additional sales and market share. There was a time when this drive to draw attention lead many to concentrate their promotional activity to the perimeter of the store. The center store was seen as a place to stack it high and let it fly, but not a place to truly innovate. But according to the latest issue of Times & Trends by SymphonyIRI, there is a new emphasis on promoting center store categories.

According to Times & Trends, center store has outperformed industry averages for two years garnering two-thirds of CPG spending and 70 percent of unit sales. In spite of this fact, promotional activity is declining in 58 percent of center store categories and 6 of the top 10.

The report says that center store has rebounded due to changing consumer rituals like preparing meals at home and using home based health and beauty products. The center store is the focal point for trip missions and the basis for popular shopper loyalty programs. Advanced analytics and shopper marketing data have made it possible to promote and differentiate in the center store. It all revolves around understanding the needs of key shopper groups and merchandising to meet those needs.

SymphonyIRI suggests three courses of action for trading partners: Continue to assess new growth opportunities and threats. Explore the feasibility of collaborative marketing and merchandising plans. Closely measure and monitor strategy execution.

The members of the at-retail merchandising and marketing service industry provide services that directly support these strategies. NARMS members can quickly execute shelf-level initiatives that support shopper needs such as new product cut-ins, category resets, store remodels, product sampling and demo programs and mystery shopping/audit services.

For a deeper understanding of the SymphonyIRI Times & Trends report, download your free copy by clicking here. Another opportunity for deeper understanding and insight is coming up on April 27-30 at The 2013 Retail Merchandising and Marketing Conference (RMMC) presented by NARMS. Click here to find out more and register today.

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Sponsorship Prospectus Outlines RMMC Promotions

November 15, 2012 by Newsfeed Editor  
Filed under Friday Focus, RMMC2012, What's in store

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As you can probably tell, momentum is building for the Retail Merchandising and Marketing Conference (RMMC) presented by NARMS slated for April 27-30 at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. The official conference website is on-line and registration is now open. And by the way, did you know we have group rates and early bird registration deals? The event is a gathering point for current and prospective members of NARMS, retailers, manufacturers and other companies who provide goods and services to the at-retail merchandising industry. This highly engaged group of trading partners presents an exciting opportunity for you to reach out by partaking in the many RMMC sponsorship and promotional programs.

Supporting RMMC promotes brand identity and visibility of your company to more than 300 attendees specific to the retail services industry. Whatever your objectives are, or your budget, the NARMS International team can develop creative opportunities for you to reach your target audience. Here is your chance to connect with new businesses, increase brand and product exposure, enhance relationships with your customers, elevate your company profile within the industry and cultivate relationships through networking.

Click here see the RMMC Sponsorship and Promotional Prospectus or visit the official website. There is something for everyone including sponsorships of networking lunches, receptions and dinners. Support of programming is also available through General Session, Seminar and Breakout opportunities. And do not forget about the chance to display in the exhibit hall or sponsor the NARMS Annual Golf Tournament with proceeds benefiting Enactus. You are going to want to act early as several sponsorships, including the RMMC Mobile App, are already spoken for.

Your support of sponsorships and promotions make the RMMC possible. Visit the site, download the prospectus and contact the NARMS International team to find out how you can take a leadership position and enable the theme of Learn, Change, Grow.

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RMMC Website and Registration Now Available

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Learn, Change, Grow. Those are three powerful words and they accurately describe what awaits the attendees of the 2013 Retail Merchandising and Marketing Conference (RMMC). The annual NARMS event is slated for April 27-30 at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. A big and exciting milestone took place yesterday as registration went live on the official RMMC website. The 2013 RMMC will offer retailers, retail service providers, manufacturers, members of NARMS and non-members the opportunity to learn, collaborate, network and gain insight into the future of retail.

You can visit the official conference website by clicking here or following the tabs on www.narms.com. The website features everything you need to plan your trip to Scottsdale in April. You will find a welcome from Conference Chair Ron Apel, general RMMC information, conference registration, hotel reservations, sponsorship opportunities and how your company can participate as an exhibitor at the trade show.

The site also features the conference agenda tab already filled with engaging keynote speakers, networking opportunities and informative educational breakout sessions. The breakout sessions offer four tracks discussing trends and important issues relating to Operations, Sales and Marketing, Human Resources and The Changing World.

All retailers, manufacturers, retail service providers, support service companies and anyone whose company has an interest in expanding their knowledge about retail services are encouraged to bring their departmental staff and executives and take advantage of this opportunity to learn and network with well-established industry leaders.

It is time to mark the date and register. Although the site and registration is an exciting development, the real magic happens when you attend and bring your voice, viewpoint and energy to our annual at-retail merchandising and marketing forum.

Out-of-Stocks Still Big Factor in Retail Success

October 23, 2012 by Newsfeed Editor  
Filed under Top Shelf

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Raise your hand if you have heard this one before: if it is not on the shelf, it is not for sale. This simple statement is a universal truth of retailing and yet the issue of out-of-stocks (OOS) continues to vex manufacturers and retailers. The problem was brought to light once again in a recent Chain Store Age story reporting on a study by The Retail Feedback Group.

According to the story, The 2012 U.S. Supermarket Experience Study called OOS the number one element that negatively effects shopper satisfaction. On a five point scale, shoppers who found all the items on their shopping list rated their in-store experience at a 4.54 compared with those who did not at 3.97. Keeping a clean in-store environment is also very important, rating a 4.53 on the scale.

It is not just shopper satisfaction that is impacted by OOS. The lack of satisfaction leads directly to lost sales and lost market share. Fifty percent of those shoppers go to a different store to buy the missing item, but 38 percent forego the item all together. Only fourteen percent buy a replacement item at the store and 12 percent buy a different brand or size.

There are many reasons for the problem of out-of-stocks. If it were just one or two things, it would have been fixed by now. Lack of human resources, missing shelf tags, inability to cut-in new items and distribution voids are just a few of the factors.

At-retail merchandising and marketing service companies provide services that tackle a significant amount of the issues that result in OOS conditions. Association studies of its members and independent surveys of their clients agree that well executed at-retail merchandising activities can help achieve incremental sales gains of around 10-15 percent.

Even though much attention has been placed on the issue, the battle against OOS is still raging. The members of NARMS are on the front line for manufacturer and retail trading partners fighting that battle.

Holiday Outlook Identifies Increased Showcasing Trend

September 20, 2012 by Newsfeed Editor  
Filed under Friday Focus, What's in store

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Tis the season for many consultancy firms to publish their annual outlooks on the crucial holiday shopping season. These reports serve an important function as they uncover and corroborate key trends for manufacturers and retailers. As a result, at-retail merchandising and marketing service firms such as the members of NARMS can be ready for the needs of their clients. One such study was released this week by Booz & Co. as reported on by DSN Retailing Today.

Booz & Co. surveyed 1,600 people including consumers, store staffs and retail executives for their views on buying behavior and expected trends. There are many interesting findings in the report, but the one that jumps off the page is that 40 percent of those surveyed said that Showrooming or Showcasing is their new shopping strategy. Showrooming is the practice of browsing in the store before buying online. Trading partners wanted to initially combat that practice, but have now seemed to settle in on strategies to drive Showcasing volume to their websites rather than chasing the consumer to other e-tailers such as Amazon.com.

That major finding screams for a comprehensive, seamless multi-channel strategy in which merchandising and promotion at brick-and-mortar stores are in perfect alignment with online and mobile offerings. Conversion of the at-retail shopping experience into a sale has become the overriding concern, regardless of whether that sale occurs in the check-out lane or on a smart-phone.

These trends will no-doubt drive a flurry of new and exciting at-retail service opportunities for the members of NARMS. It falls squarely on our shoulders to be ready for these assignments with the experience, expertise, people and systems that have become the hallmark of at-retail merchandising and marketing service industry.

Proficient Consumers Raise Stakes on At-Retail

September 13, 2012 by Newsfeed Editor  
Filed under Friday Focus, What's in store

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To truly understand the trends that occur at retail, it is always a good idea to understand what is going on with the ultimate customer: the shopper. Everything trickles down from there, not the other way around. Recently, Progressive Grocer reported on Valassis and its RedPlum Purse String Study. The report finds an increasingly frugal consumer who has become much more determined and proficient at saving money.

The story and study show that 62 percent of consumers spend two hours per week to find savings of $30. Eighteen percent only spent about an hour to find the same savings. The take away is that deal seeking is now second nature to consumers and that they are getting better at it in terms of time and money saved.

They are also becoming more social about their activities. Eighty-three percent share coupons and deals with friends in person and on social media. This sharing behavior pays off. Those who share deals save $31 more per week than those who say they do not.

These shoppers cross between traditional and digital sources to find their deals. Sixty-one percent, up 10 percent from 2011, reported planning their trip mission based on circulars and coupons. Consumers use their smartphones to access coupons, download promotional apps or send text messages to receive a savings reward.

Based on the amount of consumers who say they seek deals and based on the behavior that they exhibit, it is an understatement to say that in-store execution of promotions and reduction of out-of-stocks is vital. Savvy consumers will move on to the competing product quickly if they do not find a product on the shelf. They will use their phone to find another offer costing the manufacturer and retailer brand and market share. They will share this disappointment with family friends and total strangers who will also move on to the next product, regardless of what they find in their outlet.

It is a safe bet that CPG manufacturers and retailers are going to want to take steps to greet these forever frugal deal seekers with in-store and shelf conditions that match the price promotions.

Store Doors Open and Shut

August 14, 2012 by Newsfeed Editor  
Filed under Top Shelf

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There is some very compelling evidence of an increased state of change for those companies who help retailers open new stores or remodel existing stores. A story on Retail Traffic says that store closings for the first half of 2012 are well ahead of last year, but that might be balanced by an increase in new store openings for the same period.

The story cites International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) data which has store closings in the first half of the year at 34 percent higher than in 2011 for a total of 2,329. In the second quarter alone, closings amounted to double that experienced in 2011 with 1,150 stores closing or 10.3 million square feet of retail space. The Apparel sector was hardest hit in the second quarter making up 70 percent of that or a total 803 stores.

Industry analysts are attributing this movement to healthy right sizing and are saying that the purging might continue into next year. Many of the closings are retailers shutting down brand extensions and banners that simply did not work out. Helping to offset this rash of store closings is a number of new store openings. ICSC says that there were 440 new store openings in the second quarter.

When a door shuts for one, it opens for another. The members of NARMS, and especially the members of the Professional Installation Company (PIC) division, are helping retailers get stores open in a consistent, efficient, fast and safe manner. Whether it is new construction or moving into an existing retail space, retailers are finding that it makes sense to partner with a third-party provider of build-out services when it comes to the ceiling down, floors up and walls in.

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Seeking a Seamless Shopping Experience

July 12, 2012 by Newsfeed Editor  
Filed under Friday Focus, What's in store

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The last few weeks in retail news have seen some troubling developments for iconic retail chains in various channels. Best Buy, JCPenney, Supervalu and the Tesco Fresh & Easy concept are among a group that is struggling to maintain market share and profitability as shoppers exercise a dramatic shift in behavior. Two reports released this week by Capgemini and ShopAtHome.com underscore some trends that drive the behavior. The big picture is that consumers no longer differentiate between the at-retail and online experience and are attracted by retailers and manufacturers who are seamless in integrating a multi-channel approach.

The Capgemini report surveyed 16,000 digital shoppers worldwide. More than half of the respondents expect physical stores to take on more of a showroom role as shoppers use them to see and feel the product, but then buy online. But it does work the other way. More than half also said they are more likely to spend more money in the physical store if they used digital channels to research products prior to the trip.

According to the ShopAtHome.com study, consumers are becoming increasingly more dependent on the retailer to carry the promotional message online. The report says that 62 percent of shoppers who use their site search online for store-centric deals, 24 percent for product specific promotions and 14 percent for brand name product discounts.

These two pieces of research suggest that the retailers and manufacturers who successfully remove the gap between physical, digital and mobile retailing will emerge as the big winners. Shoppers are telling us that they want complete integration in the way that they now shop.

For members of the at-retail merchandising and marketing services industry, it is important to stay on top of these trends so you can hear the challenges faced by your retail and manufacturer customers and act as a conduit to a seamless merchandising approach.

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Changes in the Aisles

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Another piece of research appeared this week having to do with the impact of game changing buying groups. The Trouble in Aisle 5 joint study by Jefferies, a global investment bank, and AlexPartners finds that traditional food-at-home, which is already facing trouble, is likely to see its challenges accelerate over the next few years.

The findings are based on a survey conducted in May of 2,000 adult grocery shoppers over the age of 18. One thousand of these shoppers were across all age ranges, and an additional 500 Millennials aged 18-31 and 500 Baby Boomers aged 48-66 were included.

At the heart of the oncoming challenges is changing demographics. The study cites U.S. Census Bureau projections that Millennials over the age of 25 will make up roughly 19 percent of the U.S. population by 2020, up from just over 5 percent in 2010. Household spending for this group is expected to raise more than $45,000 from just over $28,000. Food-at-home spending by Millennials is set to jump by $50 billion annually through 2020. Baby Boomers, on the other hand, are expected to decrease food-at-home spending by up to $15 billion.

This transition is expected to bring about a shift in buying patterns. Millennials are far less dependent on brands. Twenty-three percent are less likely to value food brands when making buying decisions and 18 percent are less likely to shop at traditional grocers.

According to AlexPartners, the shift will require increased flexibility and an even more intense focus on the consumer for established food manufacturers and retailers. No doubt, the same requirements will be needed from the at-retail merchandising and marketing industry if we are to help our clients find innovative solutions and growth in the challenging times ahead.

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