Guest blog: Range resets – is a “top down” assessment needed of the role of brands?
A common retailer action in today’s competitive environment is to look for above the normal level of range efficiency, sometimes called a “reset”. Of course, a core task of category management is to identify the “right” range for any category to optimize return on shelf space, optimizing demand from that fixture, but category management is usually conducted by treating every category in isolation and can lack sufficient focus on the overall impact on shoppers to the store. It can result in efficiency but in aggregate could reduce the overall effectiveness of the store.
This isn’t because shoppers necessarily “need” all the options presented to them. There is another factor at work. The marketing investments of brands have other crucial impacts on the store.
Shopper Intelligence, in collaboration with the British Brands Group, took a look at its huge UK database of post-shop shopper interviews (124,000 in total) and split the data between shoppers who bought a brand and those who bought a private label across 140 categories.
Here are just four ways the data suggests strong brands can drive store performance over and above the margins they deliver, and how they perform differently to private label:
- Brand shoppers may be more willing to pay a premium in a category. Specialist brands convey values that appeal to these people. 46% of brand buyers net agreed* they are often tempted to pay a bit extra, compared to 24% net agreement among private label buyers. This is strong in categories like Beer/Wine/Spirits, Ice Cream and Personal Care.
- The competition between brands leads to promotional activity that drives traffic to the store. 29% of Brand purchasers net agreed with “promotions impacted my visit to the store”, compared to 8% net agree from Private Label buyers. Branded promotions also encourage additional purchasing (39% vs 18% net agreement), for example, in impulse categories.
- Brand buyers are more likely to agree that their category was “enjoyable to shop” (40% versus 30%). Brands play well in markets where indulgence matters and interest is high.
- Buyers of brands are less likely to want to swap to buy something else in a category (12% versus 7%). This is particularly the case in Baby or Healthcare.
This isn’t to say that Private Label doesn’t have relative strengths, one being the ability to differentiate the store (rating better for “retailer does this particularly well”: 21% versus 20%).
* Net agreement is total agreeing minus total disagreeing
Different brands should play different roles to the store by category
Building on this discussion, one thing that is notable is that not all brands should be treated the same. It depends on what category they play in and the role they play in that category. Brands can add value in different ways depending on the nature of the shopper attitude and behaviour in the category. Shopper Intelligence has developed the 4 quadrant “Brand Impact Model” as shown in the next column.
This model gives us four types of brand, depending on whether they are strong on “Intentionality” (about driving shoppers to the store) or “Engagement” (more about driving spend once in store). Some brands are particularly distinctive, being outliers in their quadrant.
Trip Driver brands are much stronger on Intentionality than Engagement and are perfect for featuring in pre-store promotions that create traffic. They are top of mind in the shopping trip. Outlier brands here include Pet Care (eg Felix), Bread (eg Warburtons), Baby (eg Pampers) or Butter/Spreads/Margarine (Eg Flora).
Basket Builder brands are in categories where both engagement and Intentionality scores are relatively lower. Outliers here tend to be ‘little extras’ in everyday categories, for example in magazines, facial tissues or confectionery. They were not planned but are low-consideration small impulse buys. Simple, adequate ranging combined with high-low price activity can work well for these.
Profit Booster brands are low on Intentionality buy higher on Engagement. These brands are the kind of impulsive indulgences that are important to add margin, including treats. Typical examples of outlier brands would be Haagan Dazs, Mr Kipling or Koppaberg. Display and merchandising execution should be the focus here, with greater adherence to premium pricing.
Finally, the Hero quadrant includes brands strong on both dimensions, and this is the place for premium products with strong loyalty, often in Healthcare (eg Neutrogena) and Baby (eg Heinz Baby Food) or strong personal preference brands like Sharwoods or Jordans. This argues for special attention for ranging and feature. The Hero quadrant also includes many categories that could be a focus for Private Label to achieve the strongest contribution to the overall store brand.
In conclusion, this data would suggest that an additional view of the role of brands should be taken as an overlay to category-level margin and rate-of-sale driven range reduction. Brands bring important characteristics to a store that, if lost en masse, will harm the shopper experience. Moreover, the ability to differentiate between different types of category and brand is important in applying range reduction tactics to best overall effect.
This blog is based on two studies, What brands deliver to supermarkets (which compares brand- and own label-buyers) and How do brands impact UK supermarkets? (which uses a quadrant model to identify how brands drive store traffic, store spend or both).
Roger Jackson is Chief Execuitive Officer of Shopper Intelligence.
The views expressed in this blog are not necessarily those of the British Brands Group.