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SymphonyIRI Report Examines Merchandising Trends

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


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.


Putting Center Store Front and Center

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


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.


SymphonyIRI: National Brands Strike Back

November 13, 2012 by Newsfeed Editor  
Filed under RMMC2013, Top Shelf


We all know that the recession and a slow economic recovery have given rise to a strengthened effort on the part of private label merchandise and store brands. In the November issue of Times & Trends, SymphonyIRI revisits how the private label explosion is playing out, and how national brands are digging in and protecting their turf. There are strong at-retail merchandising and marketing implications on both sides of this battle for market share.

The overall finding is that the lines are solidifying. Both sides are finding areas to score some impressive gains, but it is not a winner take all contest. SymphonyIRI says that national brands and private labels must complement each other and put the needs of the consumer first. There is room for both to succeed in-store around the globe. Here are some key findings from Times & Trends:

-Although dollar share continues to grow, private label unit share of CPG products has slipped. Meanwhile, national brands are gaining volume share in 40 of the top 100 CPG categories.

-Consumers are continuing to see value in terms of cost and benefits of store brands. There is growing feeling of acceptance helped by innovation and improved quality.

-Private label continues to score big points in the grocery sector in terms of growing share. However, share has slipped within the important drug and c-store sectors over the last year.

-In spite of the impressive gains, even the most ardent private label buyer only spends one out of every four CPG dollars on store brands.

-Store brands receive below-average levels of merchandising support and there is evidence to suggest that the level of support has been declining during the past several years.

As is the case with every issue of Times & Trends, there is way more valuable information than can be represented in this column and you should visit SymphonyIRI and download your free copy today.

Keeping you up to speed on the trends shaping the retail marketplace is an important function and value of your trade association. That commitment will be on full display at The Retail Merchandising and Marketing Conference (RMMC) presented by NARMS. The event is scheduled for April 27-30 at the Scottsdale Plaza resort. Visit the conference website for more information and to register.

SymphonyIRI Looks at Baby Boomers

September 18, 2012 by Newsfeed Editor  
Filed under Top Shelf


Much has been said and written about the baby boomer generation as a key shopper group. In the new issue of Times & Trends, SymphonyIRI calls this group of over 80 million the most studied shopper group in market research history. The report, Baby Boomers: Riding the Wave of Diversity, takes a close look at spending patterns and buying power of boomers, further studies and breaks down sub-segments of the group, and prescribes potential action items for CPG manufacturers and retailers to better service baby boomer market needs. As always, there is a strong correlation between the action items and at-retail merchandising and marketing activities.

Here are a few highlights of the SymphonyIRI findings: Spending for the group fell during 2010 and younger boomers continue to outspend older boomers and seniors for the past few years. The club and dollar channels have gained in market share for the group, while grocery and drug channels have witnessed a decline over the past year. Health concerns drive spending that increases with age for healthcare products, but decreases for beauty and personal care items. Boomers are similar to the average shopper when it comes to private label spending, but a disproportionate amount is directed toward the drug and dollar channels. Internet, social media and mobile technology use is much lower among older shoppers, but that is expected to change very shortly.

There is much more to this issue of Times & Trends than we have time or space to share. You will want to follow the link and download your own free copy. To wrap up the message in one neat package, the report advices manufacturers and retailers to continue to invest and understand this key demographic for their wants and needs at the market/store level. The next step is to deliver personal and customized in-store programs and direct-to-consumer marketing programs that speak to those needs. The members of NARMS can help on both counts.


Times & Trends Looks at Channel Migration

August 7, 2012 by Newsfeed Editor  
Filed under Top Shelf


The August 2012 edition of Times & Trends from SymphonyIRI takes a detailed look at the changing dynamics in the CPG marketplace and the opportunities for both manufacturers and retailers that have resulted. The double edged sword of high costs on the supply side and constantly changing buyer behavior on the demand side is causing a shift and making success at retail a moving target. Here are a few of the key findings found within the report:

Three quarters of consumers shop in five or more channels. This finding suggests that consumer are refining their shopping strategies to the channels they feel offer the greatest value.

The battle for grocery spending is being hotly contested and is seeing a high degree of channel migration. Supercenters and dollar stores have made great gains in winning heavy grocery shoppers away from other channels.

The consumer trip mission is still evolving as data suggests that trip frequency is declining, while basket size is increasing per trip.

The drug, dollar and club channels are capturing market share across several CPG departments at the expense of grocery, supercenter and mass. These changes are not huge, but the trend is hard to ignore. There has been a huge market share gain in the health and beauty care departments in the drug channel.

The Internet is a big factor in CPG purchase behavior and is a force to be reckoned with. According to Times & Trends, online sales of CPG products grew 10-14 percent during the first quarter of 2012.

What does all this mean for the members of NARMS? As consumers migrate across channels and as brands seek to find the action, trading partners will have to reset categories, cut-in new products, experiment with new formats and remodel existing stores. The August edition of Times & Trends is another great resource for at-retail merchandising and marketing service professionals to download and have at their finger tips as they contemplate how to best serve their manufacturer and retailer clientele.

Shopper Marketing and Shopper-Centric Begin with Shopper

June 5, 2012 by Newsfeed Editor  
Filed under Top Shelf


As the members of NARMS execute highly targeted and specific at-retail merchandising and marketing programs in-store, it is sometimes easy to forget who the ultimate customer is in the transaction. After all, they are being hired by either a retailer or a manufacturer to carry out necessary promotional or operational shelf-level activities. The trading partners are certainly the clients and they pay the bills, but it is important to remember that none of it works without the shopper.

In the May issue of Times & Trends by SymphonyIRI, the author examines the fact that the shopper is in control at retail. The marketplace has changed from a product focused business to a shopper focused business driven by a couple of key developments. The availability of multi-channel options gives the consumer many more choices on where to go and that is enhanced by social and mobile communications platforms.

By understanding the way that our clients are starting to look at the consumer, we can better understand and meet those needs. The shopping experience is becoming a highly personalized and intimate relationship. SymphonyIRI has some advice for trading partners on how to approach this shift. These strategies revolve around Shopper Marketing, Product Marketing and In-Store Marketing.

The In-Store Marketing component depends heavily on an inventory management system that reflects best shopper trip missions and reducing out-of-stocks in those key areas. That is just one specific example of how just about every decision made in the board room directly impacts operations at the shelf, and ultimately the relationship with the consumer. Keeping the customer relationship out front in your conversations with trading partners can help you demonstrate why they need to work with you to carry their shopper marketing initiatives all the way to its intended target. You can download the SymphonyIRI report here.

Helping New Products Beat the Odds


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.

Merchandising as the Value Platform

February 2, 2012 by Newsfeed Editor  
Filed under Friday Focus, What's in store


In a week that saw Wal-Mart move the U.S. marketing team under the direction of their chief merchandising officer, SymphonyIRI Group released the latest edition of Times & Trends which calls merchandising the platform to communicate value to the consumer. For members of the at-retail merchandising and marketing services industry, this is more evidence that the importance of in-store is ever increasing in the minds of brand marketers and retailers.

Wal-Mart says that their move is designed to better coordinate communication between the merchandising and marketing groups. They see the two previously separate functions as transforming due to the Internet, social media and mobile technology. SymphonyIRI defines merchandising as displays, feature ads, feature and display combined and price promotion. Their findings may have something to do with the Wal-Mart move. Here are a few of the positive trends:

-Merchandising support is increasing in 47% of categories across CPG channels. Drug channel merchandising activity is outpacing the grocery channel and the industry.

-CPG marketers are focusing their support toward home-based food rituals.

-Merchandising support of private label remains below that of national brands, but the gap is closing.

- Categories seeing the highest lift across merchandising tactics are well-represented by those that cater to recession-driven behaviors.

Times and Trends goes on to reinforce that shopper marketing, an individual level 360 degree view of the consumer, is the most effective current marketing program. Merchandising tactics that have been around for a long time have found new life as a way to support the shopper marketing approach.

The members of NARMS are well positioned to help retailers and manufacturers fully usher in this new age. Price promotions do not work if consumers do not find the products on-shelf. Displays are not effective in the back room. Feature ads need to be met in the store with an equally well executed and consistent message. Great plans can fall apart in the last three feet. You can download the latest Times & Trends report by SymphonyIRI by clicking here.


Shoppers Have Many Faces

December 15, 2011 by Newsfeed Editor  
Filed under Friday Focus, What's in store


We have all read endless stories about the changing face of the American shopper. We know that consumers are being conservative in their buying choices and that impulse purchases are down as shoppers stick to the shopping list and hunt for deals. The most recent Times & Trends from SymphonyIRI does a great job of digging beneath the surface of these general trends, helping us to truly understand motivations. They also give retailers and manufacturers some practical tips that we, as at-retail merchandising and marketing service professionals, can look forward to executing in-store.

Despite the relatively negative headlines in the trade press, there are some brand marketers succeeding at retail. We are also coming off one of the most robust Thanksgiving weekends in history with Americans spending $7.4 billion more than last year, according to the National Retail Federation. We can no longer say that the American shopper only has one face. Successful CPG companies have come to realize that there are many. And they are figuring out ways to reach them.

Here are some steps to success for CPG companies according to SymphonyIRI: Trip Management helps to segment consumers using analytical tools to recognize opportunities in the store. Store Level Opportunity Analysis can identify missed opportunities using POS data. Maximize Packaging by focusing on channel and trip type. Understand Channels and focus on growth channels like Dollar and Drug stores. Look at Assortment to determine optimal use of shelf space. Always keep an eye on Pricing in regards to channel, competition, private label and promotion.

The paragraph above only scratches the surface of the Times & Trends report and you should definitely download and take the time to read and digest it. All the suggested approaches for manufacturers and retailers ultimately run up against the same challenge of at-retail execution. As providers of those services, the members of NARMS should stay tuned and be ready with offerings that understand and meet the needs of trading partners.


Value and Service Driving Grocery Sales

November 22, 2011 by Newsfeed Editor  
Filed under Top Shelf


A few days ago, we brought you a Times & Trends Report from SymphonyIRI that stressed taking care of the ultimate consumer. This week, another grocery consumer survey seems to compliment those observations. A story in Progressive Grocer reports on the findings of a Coinstar study that found that 81 percent of consumers are spending the same or more the past three months on groceries, but they are asking for more when it comes to value and service. As the story describes, these consumers are taking a back to the basics approach. Today, we will look at some of the other findings.

Over half of those surveyed said they have used more coupons than in the past. The same amount said they prefer loyalty or value cards that offer instant rewards. The use of debit cards and cash are the primary forms of payment when it comes to groceries. These consumers said they are buying more grocery brands than private label and less non-necessity items. They say they are being careful with their dollars, but will spend providing they see a streamlined and value-oriented approach.

As the story reports, the National Retail Federation predicts an average holiday shopping season expecting a 2.8 percent increase versus the 5.2 they experienced last year.

What does this all mean? The holidays are providing an opportunity to attract and build consumer loyalty and increase market share, but the margin for error is shrinking. The doorway to success is through excellent execution and paying mind to the customer experience. Sixty-two percent said a varied, well-organized inventory was the key. Sixty-one percent cited ease and speed of the shopping trip.

It has never been more important for brand marketers to execute exceptional at-retail merchandising and marketing programs. Being in-stock, having promotional material on display and providing professional sample and demo programs appeal to the more grass roots approach being displayed by grocery shoppers. To not execute means to lose that hard-earned shopper and now thinner dollar to another store or brand.


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