Friday 2 August 2013

The battle for market share in a flat-line war

In a flat-line market the only way to grow share is at the competitors’ expense, with some help from suppliers…. In other words, the retailer needs to evaluate the relative appeal of their offering, from the point-of-view of the target shopper compared with available alternatives.

In practice, this means that the retailer’s 8 P Marketing Mix – the offering – needs to be assessed, weighted and objectively ranked vs. other retailers’ offerings, in the eyes of savvy consumers.

The 8 P Mix - a harmonious and need-prioritised blend of the following:
  1. Products & Assortment: ranges matching consumer expectations, and doing what it says on the tin (short-changing here makes the remaining parts of the retail offering irrelevant…)
  2. Pricing: with most retailers now price-matching, price has been virtually eliminated from the equation, leaving the remaining 7Ps as the only real differentiators…
  3. Promotional activities: promotions are now about informing and clarity, an attempted basis for like-with-like comparison (trust, values and credibility being implicit, easily eroded, impossible to restore, if competitors manage to build and hold the honesty line…)
  4. Place i.e. store location: being available everywhere the customer wants to buy, in a format that optimises location, offering effective store-level assortment, and if necessary show-rooming for the retailer’s online alternative
  5. Personnel: vital that the entire organisation, especially front-line colleagues express the offering in harmony with other elements of the Mix
  6. Physical distribution & handling: full on-shelf availability, as ‘fresh’ as the pics in the adverts, zero-defect
  7. Presentation of stores & products: optimising the presence of those who make it to the aisle (shopper marketing)
  8. Productivity: delivering the above ingredients within financial constraints of ROCE performance of at least 15% ( this maintains the share price and minimises cost of support from stakeholders
In other words, good shop-keeping, and better than most…

The supplier role
Patently, suppliers also need to grow at the expense of competition in a flatline market. In practice, this means conducting a qualitative analysis of their offering through the eyes of target consumers, using the 4 P Marketing-Mix (see specifics here)

However, the real difference in relative profitability will be determined by a supplier's ability to differentiate the offering to match the traffic-mix profile of each major customer. Again, taking as a basis the relative presence of target consumers of the brand in specific customer-aisles, it is vital to tailor the offering to optimise actual shopper behaviour in a way that fits with the retailer’s 8P Mix.

Simply offering the same to each major customer will at best be a compromise in terms of needs-match, and the big guys will ration their partner-shipping accordingly….

Incidentally, Graham Ruddick has a great article in the Telegraph: Tesco-Sainsbury's row draws battle lines for entire retail sector, well worth a read...

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