Are brokers losing significance?
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from Frozen & Refrigerated Buyer magazine
Hey, don’t blame me, I’m just the messenger. But a good chunk of respondents to our annual survey about industry issues see the influence of brokers weakening next year. This was spread pretty evenly among both large and small retailers and vendors. The dissatisfaction has different causes depending on whom you ask.
So here’s my gut instinct. Big manufacturers, especially, are wanting to pay only for menu-based services and are putting heat on broker fees. Some of them are threatening to move to direct sales.
Smaller manufacturers complain they are getting lousy service from large brokerages because of their size, and some of them are finding true love with small, specialist niche brokers. As one vendor put it, "I can’t speak for the big dogs, but for a smaller, specialty manufacturer, having strong, engaged, results-focused brokers is critical to our long-term success."
Yet many broker companies have a bad habit of taking on more clients than they can handle in these days of multi-tasking and budget squeezing.
Source: Frozen & Refrigerated Buyer October 2015
Said one manufacturer, "The few brokers have too many accounts and many accounts don’t allow entertainment, where some past relationships were formed. Also, decisions are more data-driven than people-driven than in the past and upper management access seems to be decreasing for brokers."
Another manufacturer vented, "Great brokers are getting older and the industry is not attracting younger broker personnel."
As for retailers? Forget it. Buyers are beyond swamped and can use all the help they can get.
Many assert brokers have more experience and less turnover than CPG sales agents. Said one retailer, "A broker provides ‘normalized’ transitions and has the benefit of sitting with a category manager across multiple categories and fully understands the retailer desires, market strategies, and ‘hot buttons’ not to push."
But another agreed that with consolidation, brokers may also be larger but less effective with many more lines.
"The retail side of the business (resets) is changing models and going to a single-source solution," added another retailer. "Brokers have baked in a lot of profitability in this arena and most of them do not have the highest-quality, single-source solution to provide to the retailer. They will need to adjust their need for this dependency as they continue to see it shift and/or improve their offerings."
Do you see the influence of brokers weakening or strengthening for food retailers? How should their role be evolving?