My family members groan when they hear me say, “I’m running to the store.” That’s because they know that I can easily turn a five-minute quick trip into a 90-minute marathon. You see, I can’t leave a store without doing a shelf audit. At Martino Flynn, conducting weekly shelf audits is an important part of the marketing support that we provide to our clients. Here are some quick tips that we use to make sure that these audits are effective:
This ensures that you pick up the nuances that occur from week to week, including: price changes, stock outages, delisting, product development, and more. We always count each product to gain a better understanding of brand and product movement.
Visit a Variety
Don’t rely on visiting just one store. It’s important to visit retailers across the food, drug, and mass categories. Pricing and promotion vary across all. Be sure to visit different geographies as store plans, inventories, and purchase behaviors vary by market.
Understand the Shelf Set
Shelf placement has a tremendous impact on consumer buying behavior. Products that are at eye level receive more consideration than those on lower shelves. Brands that have multiple SKUs and facings often have the benefit of a billboard effect when placed next to one another on the shelf. It’s also important to understand the impact that mega-brands have on shelf real estate. Their likely close relationships with retailers often allows them to lock up premium placement, even for their smaller brands.
Monitor Point-of-Sale Promotion
Manufacturers want to be able to win customers in the aisle, but several factors contribute to making this difficult. Many retailers continue to operate under clean-store policies where POS opportunities are limited. Other retailers, particularly in the drug segment, offer so many product discounts and pricing specials that you may see up to 15 promotional shelf tags on one gondola in a given week. As a result, manufacturers now pay premiums or work with outside partners to secure the best promotional exposure at the point of sale.
Beyond the obvious fact gathering, conducting regular shelf audits provides you with the added benefit of understanding just how many things a prospective customer must evaluate before making an actual purchase. And if you’re lucky, you’ll have the added opportunity to talk to someone about his or her decision-making criteria when you meet them in the aisle!