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Vendor think tank examines new ways to make their brands stars

BY DSN STAFF

CHICAGO — At a time when consumer takeaway is low and financial resources are limited, retailers and suppliers need to dig beneath the surface to find creative ways to grow sales; it’s about exploring your hidden assets. And it was a key takeaway of a recent Elevation Forum meeting, held here last month.

“It’s not about what YOU make — it’s about what THEY want,” said Dan Mack, The Swanson Group’s EVP strategic business development and founder of the Elevation Forum. “Many organizations spend too much time looking inward at their own capabilities, goals, corporate metrics and opinions, and not enough time looking outward at the changing needs of their retailer partners and the consumer.”

In all, roughly 20 different companies attend a typical Elevation Forum — a think tank that brings together executives from noncompeting companies to examine the opportunities to better align their brands with the broader goals of retailers. Discussion at the Oct. 7 meeting centered on improving in-store shopper marketing practices and learning how to win “winner-take-all” negotiations.

Winning on both fronts requires a laser focus on the things you are and the qualities your brand brings to the consumer. “The winning companies are the firms that explore their inner ‘we-ness,’” said Bruce Kramer, VP sales and marketing for Wahl Home Products.

One key issue most vendors in the group seemed to agree upon was the incredibly short window that retailers seem to allow for new products to meet critical sales thresholds.

Another area of agreement focused on the escalating costs associated with bringing a new product to market, particularly for smaller and mid-sized companies that may not get a chance to start all over again if the launch goes wrong.

As for the battle for the consumer: That often can be won at the store level, explained Swanson Group principal Rich Swanson. “Shopper marketing also includes creating impactful, special packaging or added-value incentives.… Research shows a consumer is more willing to buy a product when [he or she] can see the brand within the package. Transform the package so the product is the star, not just your packaging and positioning,” Swanson said.

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Stater Bros. kicks off Harvesting Hope campaign

BY Allison Cerra

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. A Southern California-based supermarket chain is assisting with hunger relief throughout November and December.

Stater Bros., in conjunction with its charitable arm, Stater Bros. Charities, will host its Harvesting Hope campaign. The retailer said it is collecting nonperishable food items for struggling families and accepting additional cash donations in all 167 Stater Bros. stores. The stores also are offering customers the opportunity to purchase $10 Harvesting Hope scannable donation cards.

Each year, Stater Bros. contributes more than $15 million to assist those in need, with an emphasis on worthy programs that benefit hunger relief, health and nutrition, education and animal shelters. Stater Bros. also annually donates more than 3 million lbs of food and products to the local food banks.

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Whoopee! American Greetings brings the laughs

BY Allison Cerra

CLEVELAND Jokers will be sure to embrace the latest laugh-out-loud card line from American Greetings.

The greeting card company announced its first-ever whoopee-cushion greeting card line, called "It’s a Gas!" Each card in the collection is an actual whoopee cushion that can be signed and sent in an accompanying envelope.

 

"Consumers often tell us that surprising friends and family with the greeting cards they choose is the best part of the experience, so we are always looking for ways to introduce unexpected ideas," said Mary McClain, creative director of new product concepts at American Greetings. "With ‘It’s a Gas!,’ we have a really fun format that is silly and unique and sure to put a big smile on anyone’s face, which is what we strive for in every card we create."

 

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