Saturday, September 4, 2010

Are Chain Stores promoting Cherry Picking?

Increasingly I read about promotions which make no sense. Some even border on the ridiculous. For example, many apparel stores offer promotions like buy 3 and get 5 Free or get 50% off and then 40% off.

Either the merchandiser is completely lost and is drowning in inventory and therefore desperate to liquidate stocks or someone forgot to tell them that promotions are very powerful tools and each type of promotion has a specific purpose. For example a bill value based offer is supposed to increase the overall average bill value and needs some thought and date to fix the optimum slabs. Recently I was reading about a promotion where there was an offer on a particular category’s purchase value coupled with an overall bill value and then additional discount for a specific credit card and so on. Does this make sense?

Absolutely not!

Promotions are tools to drive walk ins and also build loyalty through repeat purchase. One of the cardinal rules for promotion planning is that a single SKU cannot have multiple offers.

The other cardinal rule is the selection of SKU itself, especially for advertisements and other public communication. Today, I saw an advertisement for a leading supermarket chain. The communication highlights refilling the groceries and home needs. In other words it is trying to capture the monthly shopping of the household.

In such a case the core products and KVI is mandatory because that is what the customer will relate to immediately and it will also deliver the message of a better price.

Consider this advertisement, which does not feature Rice, Toor Dal or Sugar - some very important KVIs. Oil is featured but a 5 litre jar whereas the average consumption of oil in Chennai Households is 3 litres. What it does feature is Basmati rice, Slice and 7 Up. It does have a sweeping statement about groceries being available at prices expected by the shopper. Such statements rarely have any impact and I shall detail why in a subsequent post.

To be fair, I have seen other such bright advertisements which ignore core SKUs and highlight offers on SKUs which might not influence the monthly shopping decision.

In this context I wonder what the objective of the merchandising and marketing team is. Do they wish to have people looking to buy only Slice and 7 Up come searching for the offers on such SKUs or do they wish to increase the share of monthly shopping baskets in the catchment?

Something does not seem right.


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