CPGmatters: Kraft Foods Scores with ‘Wall-to-Wall’ Strategy
By Dale Buss
Through a special
arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current
article from the monthly e-zine, CPGmatters.
In the low-margin
grocery business, every one percent – of anything – counts for a lot.
By that measure, Kraft Foods’ new strategy for deploying sales reps in
stores has been a big success. Called Wall-to-Wall, it has single-handedly
boosted sales by more than one percent at the 16,000 stores where Kraft
has rolled it out.
In fact, after only
two years into the program in which individual reps now handle more brands
and fewer stores than before, one top Kraft executive is ready to declare
Wall-to-Wall a key piece of the company’s retailing arsenal.
"We’re happy with
our progress, and now we’re going to focus on optimizing it," Darryl
Brown, Kraft’s senior vice president of retail sales, told CPGmatters. "Wall-to-Wall
is a weapon that we can use to help the business long-term."
Kraft maintained three separate organizations of store reps. One group
mainly handled Nabisco cookie and snack products and would be in any
given store three to five times a week. The second group handled the
rest of Kraft’s dry-goods portfolio and were in stores only every two
to four weeks. "It’s hard to sell incrementally when you’re only showing
up every 30 days,” Darryl Brown, Kraft’s senior vice president of retail
sales, told CPGmatters.
So, about two years
ago, Kraft collapsed the barriers between those two groups and created
a new Wall-to-Wall organization that now handles more than half of the
total of 30,000 stores with which Kraft does business. (Kraft’s third
group of reps still represents Kraft’s frozen-pizza brands separately.)
"We are in every aisle,
and Wall-to-Wall was an opportunity to give one face to the [retailer]
customer, so they could relate to ‘one Kraft’ coming in,” Mr. Brown said.
"Once we gave them one face to go to, the intent was to have that one
person become almost a consultant to store management to help them piece
together their product portfolio.”
noticed that the Wall-to-Wall reorganization provided a big lift in three
areas: easing out-of-stock situations, enhancing special in-store promotions,
and ensuring overall optimization of the merchandising of Kraft brands
in customer-specific ways.
"Our Number One issue
is out-of-stocks,” Mr. Brown said. "But now because we’re in stores more
frequently, we’re able to assist in that area.”
In promotions, he
said, Wall-to-Wall reps "can more easily partner with private-label or
other [brand] partners in the store to create in-store excitement.”
Of course, the progress
driven by Wall-to-Wall has come at a price: higher labor costs. For one
thing, Kraft has boosted compensation for reps who enter the Wall-to-Wall
program because of the richer mix of skills and higher levels of training
required for them to become successful.
"The old warehouse
reps were really focused on selling, not as much on merchandising,” Mr.
Brown said. "Now we need people who can understand the complexities of
all our product categories and bring them to life to make them sell.
We’ve got them representing multiple categories and multiple meal-usage
occasions that we weren’t able to bring to life before.”
What do you think of Kraft’s Wall-to-Wall reps program? What are the
advantages and disadvantageous of having reps covering more brands
and fewer stores? What areas do you think such a program would provide
the most benefit?