Forget Category Captains. We need Category Lieutenants:
The retailer is interested in the consumers’ behaviour in each of the two or three hundred categories it offers, but owing to a lack of critical mass in each category, the retailer does not have the budget or the personnel to discover the information. However, for a manufacturer, concentrating on a small set of categories, it is worthwhile. Another approach is to become category lieutenants. This is where a smaller supplier looks to complement the category captain by providing niche brands where the captain is weak or absent, and perhaps offering me-toos to reduce the dominance of the Category Captain
But is trade spend paying back? The evidence suggests not. One AC Nielsen study suggested that 90% of trade-marketing initiatives do not produce a positive ROI. While a staggering 40% of items
sold in US supermarkets were on promotion.
Total global trade spend is now estimated to be over $125 billion, well above the total profits of the major retailers, and McKinsey estimate it to be typically 30% of an FMCG manufacturer’s cost base, second only to the cost of goods at 40%. Most manufacturers now spend more on trade marketing than brand/ consumer marketing
3,200 Members in the Private Label Manufacturers Association. The market to supply private label is competitive - private label sales were more than US$60 billion in 2011 and no manufacturer
can expect to succeed if their approach is half-hearted.
The most vulnerable brands to private label are not the strongest but the weakest. Manufacturers have one advantage that can never be overcome if used witli focus, vigour and investment and that is innovation. Yogurt, seemingly an ideal category for private label to take the lion’s share, has seen private label share decline. The top-five leaders, Danone, Yoplait/Sodiaal, Yalkult Honsha, Nestle and Muller represent half of all yogurt sales. Their innovation has been developing premium products, like pro-biotic yogurt and yogurt enhanced witli fruit, and tliey launch continually; between 2006 and 2010 Danone introduced nine new products.
Spar South Africa Private Label Strategy “There are now around 400 SPAR private label items making up about 10% of total sales. The products compete directly with A-brands and their prices are slightly discounted. However, the SPAR range is being extended and will include more upmarket and premium-priced products as well. The SPAR Fresh Line range includes ready meals and prepared foods and is also being extended at present. All products bear the hallmark SPAR logo.”
Pick ‘n Pay Private Label Strategy “Private label has gained importance fast at Pick n Pay in recent years, as it has in South Africa as a whole. At Pick n Pay, private label accounted for 11% of sales in 2007 but increased to 29% in 2011, carried by an offer of around 2,000 SKUs.To promote its private label approach of good, better and best, in October 2011, Pick n Pay added a new premium private label to its offer under the name of ‘Finest’. The label offers products from all over the world, such as Kalamata olives, organic coffee from Antigua, fine Belgian chocolate and premier South African rooibos tea. In addition, the label will provide customers with a seasonally changing choice of products.”
Shoprite Private Label Strategy: “Shoprite has several private labels ranges in its store formats that are estimated to make up about 10% of grocery sales and are growing faster than national brands. Ritebrand is Shoprite’s key in-store brand, both in its domestic market of South Africa and abroad, and is placed in the economy price segment, targeting Shoprite supermarkets’ core consumer group. The products range includes household items such as tin foil, detergents and paper products, and food products such as pasta, grains & flours and other ambient lines. It is easily spotted on the retailer’s shelves due to its eye-catching and simple red-white colouring. At the Checkers stores, which target above-average income customers, Shoprite sells the Checkers brand, which comprises most grocery ranges.”
‘Store loyalty’ is a rather ill-defined notion, as most consumers have patterns of shopping that involve several stores. Different stores may serve different roles, either by shopping occasion (Friday night big shop vs. lunch-hour fill-up) or by ‘speciality’ (e.g. vegetables, meat, discount).
Or, to put it another way, if a retailer knows more about a product category than does a manufacturer, then the manufacturer does not deserve the retailer’s business.
No matter how large and enlightened retailers become, they remain generalists, and there are things that are difficult for them to do as well as a manufacturer. In particular retailers cannot:
- Always get the quality they want.
- Advertise specific functions of a brand.
- Create a strong, emotional brand image.
- Give a sense of wide choice.
- Invest in deep understanding of consumer behaviour in all product fields that they operate.