Are you putting lipstick on the promotional pig?

22 October 2014

David Williams

David Williams

Head of Consumer Products

Ctrl C, Ctrl V and tweak– this is the harsh reality of FMCG promotional planning.  The pressure from retailers to give the same promotions as last year but with additional funding to offset last year’s price increase might sound like a cynical view of how a promotional plan is constructed but it is, far too often, the case.

I’m not judging. The pressures exerted on a Sales team from both customers and employers is immense.  You must grow volume and revenue in a declining market, with retail deflation and strong competition. The path of least resistance is to start with what got you through this year and work from there. But, sadly, this will give diminishing returns – a winning formula last year will be unlikely to yield results next. The competition will have caught up, the retailers will demand that greater share of the profit growth and your own management will set stretching targets as you have shown your ability to grow your business.

So if copy and paste isn’t the answer, what is? 

The truth is that you must take calculated risks and then put together a compelling case for your customer.  The risk you take can be assessed and mitigated in three ways:

  • Don’t just push, try to create a pull
  • ‘Steal’ ideas with pride
  • Don’t just buy data, use it.

Don’t just push, try to create a pull

It’s easy to fall into the trap of pushing for higher sales. Targets almost demand it. From a shopper’s perspective, most promotions aren’t going to fundamentally change their buying habits – they may try something new but unless the product delivers a significant benefit over their normal choice, it’s unlikely to be a sustained purchase.

Talk to your consumers (this isn’t just the job of Marketing) and look for ways to create more relevance to their life through your promotions.

‘Steal’ ideas with pride

Your ideas for promotional growth aren’t likely to come from simply sitting at your desk. Get out and analyse/assess what other companies, markets and industries are doing.  Applying different approaches to your promotional model can yield transformational results.

Don’t just buy data, use it!

Make use of all of the data that you no doubt are buying. There is so much data now available on how your shoppers are buying your products. The problem is that it comes from different sources with different structures and is therefore difficult to combine to get a true understanding and insight into shopping behaviour. However, getting this right can not only reveal new insight to the questions you’ve always wanted answers to, it will help you ask more searching questions that you haven’t yet thought of.

The answer may come from any one of these strategies – invest in training your people and providing them with the right tools and set yourself up for success.

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