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Launch lessons: How to launch a brand in a drug store chain

BY Bonnie Kintzer

For both brands and retailers, media is key to introduce a brand or product and ensure it flies off a retailer’s store shelves.

The facts are these: Brands need media to let customers know they exist.

So many times we see a new brand, new product or re-emerging brand focus solely on distribution. Often this is the case for good reason: It’s all the brand can afford. But it’s always a mistake, and here’s why.

If a newly launched brand or product doesn’t show a sales trajectory of up-up-up, it’s bad for the brand and the retailer. Not only will the savvy retailer not pick up the brand for national distribution, but it will most likely drop it altogether. Without sales, a brand is at risk of being pushed out.

A U.K. skin care line was recently in just this situation. The company had made it into a prized U.S. chain retailer, which was a great achievement, but few customers in the area had heard of the line — and the middling sales reflected that. Just as the company was about to lose the account, it placed an ad in two national celebrity-focused print magazines, both of which are sold at the retailer and great for driving in-store traffic. The company immediately saw a difference in sales. Shortly thereafter, it took out more ads and broadened its scope to include beauty magazines. Again it saw a significant lift.

A new color brand built around a celebrity wants to make a splash with a 75-store regional test as a run up to national sales and distribution. Its future hinges on blowing out sales in the test so it will get national pickup. Just being in the store is not enough.  So the company plans to use digital advertising with targeted zip codes and out of home advertising, such as ads on buses near the stores, where the product will be distributed.

Research shows that about 27% of women who buy beauty products at drug stores are very likely to try something new. These are the “Swayable Shopaholics,” according to a fall 2011 study by GfK Mediamark Research and Intelligence. This group loves the latest trends and celebrity-endorsed products. They don’t mind spending extra for something if it’s consistent with their image, and they tend to make impulse purchases. Surprisingly, they are not influenced by salespeople or price — which means novelty, prominent placement on the drug store shelf — and advertising and marketing are the most likely ways to catch their attention.

Once media is taken care of, consider other ways brands and drug store retailers can work together to launch a new product. A partnership between a drug store retailer and a brand that share similar images and customers can benefit both.

For example, a snack food aimed at women launched into one chain whose values it shared. The brand exploited every opportunity, and in turn, the chain bought broadly and deeply in the brand. Brand and store worked together to drive in-store sales by partnering on coop advertising, hosting in-store sampling and setting up a table outside stores to attract women to brand-sponsored charity events. The halo of the brand and the retailer extended to both. Women shopped that chain knowing they could buy that brand and certain flavors of that brand only there. The brand has since gone national and expanded its distribution to a wide variety of retailers.

Coupons and sampling are other good tactics that retailers and brands can use together to launch a brand. So are events that combine the virtual with the real, as when a brand mixes a contest or charity drive with an in-store appearance.

Integrated campaigns work best because all channels feed off each other. Marketing messages are more effective when they are viewed and heard in more than one channel or venue. When brands support retailers with advertising and retailers support brands with distribution, both benefit.


 Bonnie Kintzer is CEO of Women’s Marketing Inc., the authority on how women consume media. Women’s Marketing Inc. services more than 300 clients in the beauty, fashion and health space by delivering the best integrated advertising solutions in digital, print and out-of-home. Kintzer has built a distinguished career in the media world with a strong focus on revenue creation and re-engineering. She can be reached at [email protected].

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[email protected] says:
Jun-08-2012 10:47 am

Bonnie, I couldn't have said it better myself. At Transformation Sales and Marketing we help clients enter retail and build their brands. One of our biggest challenges is helping clients understand the need for ongoing marketing suupport. A good product is not enough--we must make shoppers aware that it is on the shelf and drive them to the store. Thanks for a great article with real-life examples.

D.WENDLAND says:
Jun-06-2012 09:04 am

Excellent advice, Bonnie! I have watched far too many companies begin their celebration as soon as they have gained distribution. As my father (and mentor) always stated, selling to someone is the easy part; selling through to the customer is true success! I'm going to share this blog with many of the companies that approach our firm for brand management / launch support. Hearing the same advice from another expert like you may help more understand the significance of a solid pull-through game plan.

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Food Lion kicks off Miracle Summer Balloon campaign to benefit Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals

BY Allison Cerra

SALISBURY, N.C. — Food Lion this week is launching a campaign designed to support Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

The four-week Miracle Summer Balloon campaign allows customers to donate $1 at the register, in exchange for $5 coupons that can be used for produce, milk or Magnum ice cream, at all Food Lion stores. What’s more, Food Lion customers can purchase specially-designed Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes, Pop Tarts and Cheez-It boxes that will feature five CMN-H children who were treated at hospitals in Richmond, Va.; Washington, D.C.; Greenville, N.C.; Baltimore; and Columbia, S.C. Kellogg will donate $1 to the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals for every four boxes sold, up to $50,000.

"At Food Lion, we are passionate about children’s health-and-wellness issues," said Kyle Price, division VP for Food Lion Triangle region and Food Lion CMN-H campaign executive sponsor. "We are pleased to help this organization for the 21st year by raising critical funds needed to help this organization make a tremendous difference in the lives of children and their families in our communities."

Food Lion noted that a similar campaign will be held in the fall.

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NRF: Organized retail crime continues to rise

WASHINGTON — The number of retailers that fell victim to organized retail crime groups has increased, according to the National Retail Federation’s "Organized Retail Crime Survey."

Of the 125 retail companies surveyed for NRF’s eighth annual survey, a record-setting (96%) said their company has been the victim of organized retail crime in the past year, up from 94.5% last year. Another 87.7% said ORC activity in the United States has grown over the past three years.

"What this tells us is that as retailers and law enforcement become more aware of and more proactive in pursuing organized retail crime gangs, criminals have become more desperate and brazen in their efforts, stopping at nothing to get their hands on large quantities of merchandise,” NRF VP loss prevention Rich Mellor said.

On a more positive note, the survey found that more retailers believe law enforcement is aware of and understands the severity and complexity of the issue (40% this year versus 32.3% in 2011). More than half (54.4%) said top management at their company is aware of the problems associated with organized retail crime.

Increases in violence and cargo theft were both found to pose problems for retailers as well. According to the survey, on average, 52.1% of companies have been victims of cargo theft in the past 12 months, up from 49.6% last year. A significantly higher percent of companies this year said cargo theft occurs mostly en route from the distribution center to the store (68.1% versus 57.4% last year). Four-in-10 (43.5%) said these incidents also occur en route from manufacturer to distribution center and 15.9% said they happen at the distribution center.

The survey also indicated a growing trend in the level of violence retailers see when organized criminal gangs are apprehended (15% of incidents versus 13% in 2011). Retailers grappling with these violent acts also reported that they believe more ORC offenders are engaged in drug activity. Nearly half (49%) of respondents estimated drugs and drug-related activity are linked to organized retail crime incidents.

When asked what new trends in organized retail crime they have noticed in the past year, retailers cited familiar issues involving the economy, returned stolen merchandise, gift card fraud and increases in violent activity upon apprehension. However, new to the list of trends this year were specific references to digital receipt fraud; increased "smash and grab" incidents; and collusion with street gangs.

"Though retailers continue to make great strides in their fight against organized retail crime, sophisticated criminals with unending opportunities and anonymous outlets to sell their stolen merchandise are proving to be quite challenging for both retailers and law enforcement agencies working to combat this issue," NRF senior asset protection adviser Joe LaRocca said. "With the types of organized retail crimes changing in severity and scope every day, and cargo theft and violent instances becoming more troubling, retailers are constantly on high alert."

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