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Dannon group readies for some shelf-assessment

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WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. Dannon yogurt maker has implemented a five-member “shelf-obsession” group whose main purpose is to use shelf space in retailers to better market Dannon products. Laura Santella-Saccone, Dannon senior marketing executive, will name the team that will utilize sales backgrounds and market research to beef up Dannon’s shelf presence.

A company representative, Michael Neuwirth, told the media, “Our ambition is to impact about 3,000 stores in 2008. We need to be able to market this initiative to retailers” and use “heavy leverage market research data about the yogurt category and the opportunity.”

The shelf-obsession team will go beyond sales plans to apply their unique expertise and support to the currently operating sales teams, who, the company said, are more focused on day-to-day customer relationship issues.

Neuwith also said that dairy takes up about 3 percent of grocery store space. Dairy comprises about 9 percent of sales, he said. He said that he believed yogurt and dairy should close that gap, citing for example, that dry grocery takes up 43 percent of grocery store space, but makes 30 percent of sales.

Sources have said that yogurt is seeing a current growth rate of 6.3 percent per year, despite its meager annual shelf space growth rate of 3.9 percent. Neuwirth said that he has seen such growth as the demand for functional items like Activia and DanActive continues to grow.

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