Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,

Upon reading your June 7 cover story, “7 Deadly Sins of SKU Rationalization,” we at The Swanson Group/Mack Elevation Forum have identified 10 ways that a small- or mid-sized vendor can avoid being SKU-rationalized. Respectfully, we have offered them for fellow Drug Store News readers.

1. All new items must hold a unique job description. If your item does not, then proactively reposition or rationalize yourself out.… Always be improving and solidifying your overall base product offering and consumer value. You must always be innovating in every area of your product portfolio.

2. Create differentiated brands while innovating in “white spaces.” Growth must occur in emerging growth segments where current needs are not being met.

3. Provide unique consumer insights validating that your product is truly unique while providing industry context on emerging societal trends in new growth segments.

4. Contract with the category manager on the role your product plays in the section (i.e., is it a profit contributor or a traffic builder?). Gain insight into the minimal threshold to stay on the shelf.

5. Demonstrate that your brand aligns with retailers’ core consumers; then provide significant profit contribution to the category.

6. Take the time to always understand what your competitors are offering and their role in the segment. Ensure you have positioned yourself uniquely in the category.

7. Provide both tangible (products) and intangible (insights—networks and knowledge) assets to your retailer partners. Your intellectual property is as valuable as your brand.

8. Utilize transparent co-creation as you develop your next generation of innovation with the retailer. Create the future with your top retail partners.

9. Create and leverage a vibrant “optin” consumer database of brand advocates. Demonstrate how you can deliver this passionate consumer to the retailer.

10. Assume the role of category validator—even if not appointed this role. (Provide fair and balanced category and competitive insights.)

Kudos again on “7 Deadly Sins!” It’s a message the industry needs to take to heart.

Dear Editor,

I read with interest your June 7, 2010, cover story, “7 Deadly Sins of SKU Rationalization.” In fact, I have recommended that all of our clients, associates and retail friends read it!

Having been quoted a few times, I have had the opportunity to speak to several buyers and retail executives that have taken this article to heart. It’s well-written and talks to a different point of view where smaller, niche and specialty brands are concerned.

Good stuff! Fantastic job by Antoinette Alexander and Michael Johnsen, and the entire DSN team! Very worthwhile reading!—David Biernbaum, David Biernbaum & Associates

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