CPG Industry View of What’s Ahead for 2010

My friends over at CPGMatters published a roundup perspective of what’s important for industry trade and marketing strategists in the new year.  They were also kind enough to quote me several times, alongside folks from McKinsey, PWC, Adesso and Synectics Group.

Not surprisingly, the list of themes is fairly consistent with many of the issues I have written about over the past few quarters.  Some of the highlights include: pricing as a strategic lever, planning price and promotion strategies together, co-opetition with private label and maintaining a total category view when selling to retailers.

All in all, an on-target story that frames up some pretty important industry issues for 2010.  You can access the full story here.

What’s Next in Trade Effectiveness?

Trade promotion best practices are fairly well established across the fast moving consumer goods industry.  But looking forward over the next 1 to 3 year horizon, two “next generation” themes stand out:

1. Aligning “top-down” strategic trade planning with “bottom-up” account planning processes on a single technology platform

2. Weaving in the shopper insights dimension to what has traditionally been a brand/category focused planning framework

We are already seeing signs of both development themes taking hold among some of the larger CPG manufacturers.  Better technology made more broadly available through SaaS frameworks are fast-tracking theme #1.  And many retailers who have come to recognize the importance of more localized, shopper-centric trade planning are helping to drive theme #2 among the vendor community through richer data-sharing policies.

Note: I recently completed this thought-leadership eBook for DemandTec, my employer, to help articulate what’s on the horizon in the trade promotion space.   Hope you enjoy thumbing through it, and I look forward to any thoughts you care to share on the concepts.  Since the document has some small text, it is best viewed in full-screen mode.

TPMA San Francisco Event Update

Day 1 of the TPMA San Francisco event just wrapped up at the Stanford Court hotel.  Lots of focused, practical dialog around trade promotion optimization, collaborative analytics, funds optimization and the role of shopper insights.  While attendance is on the lighter side, this conferences offers a set of rich discussions among industry peers.

Day 2 kicks off tomorrow at 8:30 AM, when Todd Bortel from Cannondale Associates and I will deliver our presentation titled “Trade Promotion Planning & Analysis: A Game that Needs Changing”.  We hope to see you there.

Optimizing the Trade Plan with Applied Science

Note: I produced this product demo overview for DemandTec, my employer, to help show off some cool capabilities for the Trade Planning & Optimization software service.  The movie runs ~2.5 minutes and has a pretty cool audio overlay…so turn those speakers up!

Consumer products manufacturers are under pressure to drive more volume — and profitable volume — without increasing the trade promotion budget.  Problem is, most trade promotions don’t deliver economic value for the manufacturer nor do they drive an increase in category performance for the retailer.  Selling in a bad plan like this to the retail trade is tough at best.

What to do?

Isolate plans that drive profitable volume for you, the manufacturer, and also hit key category performance objectives for your retail customer.  Sounds easy, but doing this requires a quantified understanding of category behavior — including every item in the category — so that you can simulate events before they occur and isolate the good ones from the bad ones.  Predictive software from DemandTec and others do just this, and help customer-facing sales teams develop win-win trade promotion events and entire category plans.

Some of the biggest CPG companies are using capabilities like this today, paving the way for a step change in how the industry goes to market.

Trade Promotion Excellence from a Retailer’s Perspective

On May 21 at 11 AM Pacific, John Carlson from Cannondale Associates and I will appear together on a webinar on trade promotion effectiveness.   You can click here to register for this event.  John’s insights are based on a set of one-on-one interviews that Cannondale conducted with category management and merchandising executives from large grocery retailers.  These interviews focused on which manufacturers set the bar for trade promotion management, and what specifically the manufacturers were doing to distinguish themselves.

Cannondale was kind enough to invite me to provide DemandTec’s perspective on what this means for the CPG manufacturer community.  I’ll plan to tee up some pretty tactical recommendations to help put into action Cannondale’s observations.  As I started to sketch out my talking points, I ran a quick analysis to track share price performance of the short list of recognized manufacturers.  Interestingly enough, every member of the group outpaced the S&P 500 in a trailing 2 year comparison.  It would  be unfair to attribute this performance to just effective trade promotion practices, but clearly there is a common thread with how this group of leaders manages their respective businesses.


The webinar will be hosted and facilitated by our friends at Consumer Goods Technology (click here to register).  Hope to see you there!

Trade Promotion Marketing in a Digital World

Brett Goffin from Google spent some time with Bob Houk, Executive Director of Trade Promotion Management Associates (TPMA), discussing how and when the trade promotion discipline will adapt to the digital world.  Some very interesting opportunities for sure.

As Bob and Brett discuss, the trade promotion discipline is deeply rooted around driving value for both trading partners — manufacturers gain more prominent placement for their products, while retailers monetize lucrative in-store marketing vehicles.  This fair trade has taken place for at least the last century, and even more recently both parties have doubled down their investments to scale shopper marketing initiatives.

But taking this a step further, how do multi-channel retailers monetize available trade dollars in their online storefronts?  Will manufacturers realize the same value from a “virtual” end cap as they do for a physical end cap?  The industry consensus points to a resounding “yes”, and this model is starting to take shape.  Don’t be surprised to see a case study or two on this subject at an upcoming TPMA event.

For a primer on trade promotion marketing, an overview of  Bob Houk and the TPMA, and a quick history lesson on the Robinson-Patman Act, check out Part I of the video series.

Collaborative deal management is good for the industry (and consumers too)

miami_viceNext Tuesday (April 7) I will share the stage at the Grocery Manufacturers Association conference in Miami with two DemandTec customers — Kraft Foods and Safeway — to discuss the business benefits of collaborative deal management.  We’re expecting more than 250 attendees including CPG manufacturers, a few grocery retailers and a smattering of technology vendors, consultants and media pundits to join us for this session.

So what is deal management?  In a nutshell, it’s how manufacturers and retailers agree to which in-store promotions make the calendar, at what terms, for which products and during which time periods.  The traditional deal management process is pretty inefficient involving a combination of paper deal sheets, spreadsheets, faxes, courier deliveries and phone calls…resulting in a lot of wasted time and energy.  Each retailer uses a proprietary deal sheet and deal term nomenclature, forcing the vendor community to adapt to 20+ unique processes.

Online, collaborative deal management offers a more efficient way for big retailers (like Safeway) and their entire ecosystem of manufacturers (including Kraft Foods) to bring sanity to the process.  Paper deal sheets are now a thing of the past.  Deals are submitted and negotiated online with deal status and comments fully visible to both parties.  No lost deals, and no anxious vendors.  Meaningful efficiency gains are realized by both parties, allowing everyone to focus on more strategic activities.  DemandTec’s Deal Management software service leads the industry, with retailers accounting for roughly 33% of US grocery ACV using (or deploying) the software service.

So collaborative deal management is definitely a good thing for the industry.  As more retailers migrate to an online, collaborative process life gets a little easier for everyone.  And this is ultimately a good thing for consumers.  As trade plans are entered and negotiated more efficiently, more working dollars can flow to the shelf to support an incremental program or two.

If you plan to attend the GMA conference, we’ll see you in Miami!