Keep It Simple – Make it Clear

Lisbeth Echeandia
Direct Line: (903) 965-9300

It became evident at a recent seminar hosted by distributor J. T. Davenport that manufacturers are not communicating the importance and effectiveness of displays and other merchandising vehicles very well. It was interesting that many of the retailers present, although generally in favor of off-shelf displays, weren’t quite sure whether they really ‘worked’ or not. There was also the impression that floor displays were ‘only’ for special promotions.
I know there’s great research available that shows the effectiveness and best uses of displays and other ways of merchandising, and I encourage manufacturers to share that information on a regular basis with the retail and wholesale community. Providing the tools for success is absolutely essential.
Manufacturers also are investing more money in the point-of-purchase materials than ever before, so it just makes sense to communicate the effectiveness of what is available and to communicate clearly and frequently why retailers should be enthusiastic about using what’s offered.
Displays and other materials destined for use at retail must be user-friendly. As one retailer commented, “Manufacturers need to know that most of us are not origami experts.” Point taken.
Shopping vs. buying
One of the sessions at the National Confectioners Association State of the Industry Conference in early March will be titled, “Where Are Consumers Shopping for Confectionery and Why?” It’s a good question, especially because I’m one of the panelists for that session! Your input and thoughts would be appreciated.
Consumers buy candy in many locations. But where do they ‘shop’ for confectionery i.e. as a destination? At retail confectioners’ shops — where much of the product sold is made right on site, you can smell the chocolate when you walk in and it’s difficult to leave empty-handed. Such shops have a distinct advantage as a destination for confectionery buying. They are also the ideal place to shop for gifts. Unfortunately, not every neighborhood has a local confectionery store.
Looking forward
• Chocolate will still be very hot in 2007. Consumers are becoming connoisseurs of chocolate, so make the most of the trend. The dark, organic, single-origin, high cocoa content products will be available from even more manufacturers.  
• It’s time for non-chocolate manufacturers to do a better job of taking advantage of the premium trend. There’s room at the top in the category. It’s really isn’t just about price.
• ‘Added Value’ products will be a growth category. Energy, calcium, vitamin C and more will increasingly show up in candy and gum products. ‘Energy’ is on its way to becoming a major category, and gum and candy won’t be left out.
• There will be some truly ‘new’ products from major manufacturers — as opposed to just line extensions and leveraging of brand equity.
• There’s room at the top for self-consumption luxury items. Great products don’t need to be for gifting. Ferrero and Lindt have proven that. Consumers want affordable luxury. Let’s give it to them.
Do stay alert. Manufacturers can take nothing for granted. Retailers need to crunch the numbers well and be sure they know their customer base. The importance of justifying and proving the value of the confectionery and gum categories is ongoing. There are other categories looking to take over shelf space (smokeless tobacco in convenience stores, for example), so pay attention.
Best wishes for a Happy New Year and a successful 2007.