MARKETERS ADVISED: DON'T EXCLUDE RETAILERS

NEW YORK -- Don't take supermarket retailers for granted when planning consumer promotions, advises trade consultant Frank Saulsbury. The consumer is the first consideration, but the retailer must be integral to the plans. "Only then can you market through the trade," said Saulsbury, director of marketing for TradeMarketing, San Francisco. He spoke here at a conference on evaluating consumer promotions

NEW YORK -- Don't take supermarket retailers for granted when planning consumer promotions, advises trade consultant Frank Saulsbury. The consumer is the first consideration, but the retailer must be integral to the plans. "Only then can you market through the trade," said Saulsbury, director of marketing for TradeMarketing, San Francisco. He spoke here at a conference on evaluating consumer promotions sponsored by The Marketing Institute, a division of the Institute for International Research, New York. According to Saulsbury, manufacturers have a lot of leverage with retailers because they control the brands, the concepts and the deals. "The concept is probably the largest area we can deal with when it comes to positioning with the trade," he said. "Concepts include category management. We're in the position to understand categories more than virtually anything."

This leads to account-specific performance, he said; in other words, what brand marketers can get from consumer promotion dollars as they relate to the account. "Not only do we want account-specific promotions, but we really want to [move toward] account-specific marketing. That is, understanding an account's entire marketing mix and seeing if we can address each of the components to maximize retailer performance."

Saulsbury recommended finding the answers to these questions: Are the retailers representing your products well? How are they merchandising your products? What kind of stores do they have? What unique merchandising capabilities do they have? How are they positioning their stores against what kind of targets?

"Knowing retailers will really help you understand how your business will contribute to what they are doing," he said. Saulsbury reminded brand marketers at the conference that the retailer controls what items are on the shelf, their position, pricing and whether the item is going to be on display.

"If you understand what the retailer controls, then you can better understand how consumer promotions can affect trade activity," he said. It's also important for brand marketers to understand what retailers want, according to Saulsbury. He listed the following:

Money -- "Total volume profit, not just trade dollars."

Well-Timed Promotions -- "If Vons in Los Angeles is doing a 'Build a Better Burger' promotion, and you happen to be selling relish or ketchup, that's when they want to see the relish and ketchup promotions."

Flexibility -- "To run what they want to run."