Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Balancing the retailer - manufacturer dynamic

As global retail chains increase their presence in the Asian markets, analysts question whether the battle for power between brand manufacturers and large retailers will also be fought here.

If pressure from retailers and their private labels continues on brand manufacturers, what are potential moves for manufacturers to alter a possible gloomy outlook of retailer dominance?

Create your own distribution network
If the mass channel becomes difficult to compete in, leverage your dependence away from that channel. Go in-house and target your customers directly. Using the franchise model is a relatively easy way for a quick expansion. McDonald’s uses this method to quickly expand its presence in new markets.

Engage in e-retail
Explore this as a serious option. Online retail has grown at a tremendous rate and there are no signs that this trend will change over the next years. Amazon, for example, has known an enormous success and has recently set up plans to start a free weekly home delivery service.

Provide your customers with a shopping experience
Don’t forget that shoppers see shopping as an important leisure activity. Focus on providing your clients with the best attraction in your category section in the supermarket or in your shop in the shopping complex. Apple experiences a lot of success in this way: shoppers can test and try Apple products, attend workshops and ask for advice from Apple ‘Geniuses’ about all kinds of products. Make your products stand out from the rest by experimenting with creative packaging, creating your own shelves, sample tastings and introducing innovative products. In this way, you essentially force the retailer to stock your products.

Be innovative
Many large brand manufacturers have spent decades creating an emotional brand value. Nowadays, as shoppers are more than ever aware of the huge amount of options they have, focus should shift towards creating innovative products and marketing them accordingly. Knowing how your shoppers shop and offering them a quality product will generate repeated sales. This focus readjustment to products can potentially prove to be effective against private label competition.

Cooperate with retailers
Work together and search for win-win situations.  Retailers and manufacturers are in it together to sell products. Retailers need brands in their shelves to create their own brand image. Look for symmetries between your brand and the retailers’ brand and establish safe long-term contracts to secure that collaboration.

Take these 5 guidelines into consideration and question yourself what they practically mean for your brand. We need to remember that the emergence of mass retailers is an effective channel for brand exposure and reaching your end customer, especially in the Asian markets where infrastructure is still developing.

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