This week, guest blogger, Glen Tyler, offers his insight into retail segmentation, a topic that has us dreaming up new ideas at one moment and pulling our hair out the next.
As I walked into Walgreens in Chicago, I was overcome with the myriad of selections to suit my shopping pleasures. In front of me was a made-to-order smoothie and sushi station; on the other side were gourmet wine selections; to the left, high-end convenience items and freshly prepared food selections; and upstairs were the pharmacy, wellness center and cosmetic section. Keep in mind, this was a Walgreens!
This scenario is not unusual. Traditional retail lines are being blurred every day. Convenience stores offer made-to-order food items and directly target the traditional fast-food and fast-casual restaurant customer. Not to be left in the dust, dollar stores such as Dollar General, Family Dollar and Dollar Tree have increased their prepackaged food offerings with some also selling cigarettes, thus competing directly with convenience stores and drug stores such as Walgreens.
The fast-casual restaurant segment has made no secret that they are targeting both the quick service restaurant customer and the casual restaurant customer. Quick-service restaurants have responded by trying to differentiate themselves by emphasizing freshness. Case in point, Arby’s, just last week dropped their “Good Mood Food” campaign and changed it to “Slicing Up Freshness.”
This blurring of the lines provides retailers with both opportunities and challenges. The opportunity lies in increased market share; the challenge lies in maintaining brand standards and value proposition that is unique to your brand. So how does a retail marketer accomplish both of these goals without compromising either one? Below are five tips to help you keep your focus or get you back on track.
1. Don’t Put the Cart Before the Horse
The onslaught of marketing technology advances and new marketing channels makes it very easy for marketing executives to get lost in the marketing maze of launching campaigns in new channels and getting off track with brand core values. As a marketing executive make sure you maintain the big picture perspective of the brand and delegate other responsibilities accordingly.
Ask yourself how a possible new product or service offering will help the brand evolve instead of make it confusing to the consumer. This involves stepping outside of your role and viewing things as the customer would see it. On this point it is key not to make whimsical decisions, but to think strategically and creatively.
3. Examine Your Process
Marketing a new product or service brings up many challenges because it touches everyone from the supply chain network to category managers to field level personnel. Is your process as efficient as it could be, and does it allow you to make changes with relative ease? A good solution is to bring in a retail consulting company who are experts at identifying and fixing retail process quagmires.
4. Analyze Your Non-competition
As retailers we are real good about knowing every move of our direct competitors. But when was the last time you took a more global perspective and examined others who compete for the same customer either on price point, convenience factor or demographics? Consider examining the consumer experience from a cross-section of retailers, then discuss these findings with important stakeholders within your organization and make changes, where necessary, in your marketing strategy.
5. Technology Must Manage Your Network
Are your technology applications living and breathing? For example, is it currently easy to make changes to your store profiles so that promoting a new product or service offering in-store or through other marketing channels is seamless? A retail store profile system must be flexible, where changes can be made via web portal or through trained customer service agents that know your brand as well as you do.
Lastly, there is much to be learned from the proverb “there is wisdom in a multitude of counselors”. Directing marketing efforts for the brand requires leadership, but don’t ever go it alone. Good leaders must have the common sense and intuitive skills to involve others in key decisions and delegate responsibility when appropriate. Collaborative decision making also involves consulting with trustworthy and knowledgeable personnel outside your organization who are reputable, have integrity and have a proven track record of success.
As a retail marketer, do you have all the tools at your disposal to be flexible as a brand, while at the same time maintaining brand standards and offering a competitive advantage?