FD Buyer: Let’s Try Coordinating the Time of Category Reviews
Commentary by Warren Thayer, Editor
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion
is a summary of a current article from Frozen & Dairy Buyer magazine.
Let’s say you’re a manufacturer with a new product breakthrough, and you’re
ready to present it to the trade this month. Your research says shoppers will
love it, your promo plan and consumer advertising are perfect and you’re understandably
excited. But let’s also say that several of your key retailers won’t be reviewing
your category until the following January. So how do you get your precious
baby onto the shelf and give it enough traction to get started with consumers?
There’s only one answer: With horrendous difficulty and inefficiency.
It’s a real dilemma. Do you go ahead with promotion and ad plans in the market
if you’re on the shelf in only half the stores? Do you sacrifice efficiencies
in ad spending, and risk alienating the retailers who don’t yet carry the product?
Will the lack of critical mass doom your launch?
This is a bigger problem in categories with SKUs coming and going all the time
— like dinners and pizza — than it is in more stable categories, such as
potatoes. In seasonal categories like ice cream and novelties, the seasonality
is readily understood industry-wide, so planning and promotion run more smoothly.
But there’s no reason why many frozen and dairy categories must be reviewed
in April, November, or whenever. Standardization seems like a good idea that
would benefit everyone.
Manufacturers could get to market more efficiently, helping improve the chances
of new item success. Shoppers, seeing an ad or coupon, would find product in
more stores. And there would be fewer emergency re-sets during the year. Quite
a few retailers, manufacturers and brokers I’ve spoken with think this is a
good idea, so now we just have to herd the cats. What do you think?
Discussion Questions: Would an effort at standardizing
which categories are reviewed when (i.e., category X in January and category
Y in April) be beneficial for the industry? If so, what is the best way to
bring this about?