Suppliers need to embrace range reviews as multiples battle for stand-out in competitive market, says Bridgethorne

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The news that Iceland is launching a major advertising campaign to promote its speciality fish and meat selection – which includes ostrich, crocodile and kangaroo meat products – is indicative of the lengths multiples are going to review and create ranges that will help them stand out in an increasingly competitive grocery sector.

Category, customer and shopper management specialist Bridgethorne says such campaigns show how range reviews can deliver an important competitive edge for retailers as they seek to increase shopper satisfaction and loyalty. Suppliers, Bridgethorne says, which ease the burden on retailers by delivering insights that will inform the range review process will be best placed to benefit from the process themselves.

The Iceland campaign comes as the ‘Big Four’ supermarkets continue to promote their low price ranges, with Asda reported to be spending heavily on its Roll Back campaign involving 2,500 customer favourites and weekly essentials and Sainsbury’s’ running multi-platform advertising to promote its lower prices on “products that matter”. Iceland says its campaign aims to bring to life the confidence and passion the supermarket has for its new specialty range as well as everyday essentials.

“All of the multiples are looking for leaner, stronger ranges that reflects both shopper and consumer needs, deliver choice but in the most business efficient manner,” explains John Nevens, joint managing director, Bridgethorne. “But many suppliers still don’t realise that the range review process is one of their best chances to positively influence their working relationship with retailer so that both can benefit from delivering more accurately what the shopper is looking for.”

But, says Nevens, not enough suppliers either understand the range review process or have the skills in-house on how to influence the account decision process, how to increase or optimise shelf space for their products or how to build and interpret the information that will give them a competitive edge in the retailer relationships.

Suppliers, he adds, often fail to agree the objectives of the range review with the retailer. They often don’t know why a range review is taking place and, without that knowledge, it is much more difficult to address the retailer’s requirements.

“Making yourself range review-ready requires time, resource, data and experience,” said Nevens. “You need to understand how your range functions as part of its category, whether your product is something for which a shopper would deliberately shop for or whether it is an impulse purchase. Then it is about analysing the range in the context of its category in terms of the shopper and consumer requirements.”

Bridgethorne says it uses its 17 years of Range Review experience to work with retailers and suppliers across different categories to ensure they maximise opportunities within the range review process. According to the company, it helps retailers optimise range and space and helps manufacturers gain an internal view of their brand and own label opportunities. Bridgethorne uses its software-based best practice tools and processes to provide a platform from which to launch new products, defend current and gain new listings, and increase distribution on lines where merited.