Bep Dhaliwal, trade relations manager at Mars, tells Tan Parsons how the company is helping wholesalers improve product availability.
BW: How has Mars helped wholesalers to grow sales in the last 12 months?
BD: Mars has worked in collaboration with our top wholesale partners over the past year to develop a series of planograms to highlight the most effective spacing and positioning which help to drive sales – this covers display of everything from bars to block and bitesize, including PMPs and NPD, and gifting. Retailers spend an average of three minutes shopping the confectionery aisles so we understand how crucial it is for wholesalers to give themselves the best possible opportunity to boost sales during this short window.
What is the greatest challenge you face currently?
With poor availability, rather than price, being the number one frustration retailers have when they visit the depot, this project we have undertaken is a huge step forward in providing the right solutions to meet the needs of retailers and drive sales for the category.
What trends and opportunities are you seeing emerging in the wholesale channel?
With the growth of the convenience channel, wholesalers have a key role to play in servicing this channel effectively by offering strong availability, eye-catching displays and value for money. We will continue to work alongside our wholesale partners to enable this to happen. Over the last few years, we have seen that seasonal events and occasions are becoming increasingly important sales opportunities for wholesalers and retailers of confectionery.
From Easter and Christmas, to Halloween and Diwali, shoppers are taking the opportunity to come together with family and friends and share confectionery and it is this consumption trend which seen a move away from larger formats in favour of treat bags and pouches – a move which has driven category sales up by 6.3% over the last 12 months. The popularity of PMPs also looks set to continue and remain the number one promotional mechanic wanted by retailers in 2016 as they give consumers the confidence that they are not being over charged.
What major challenges have you overcome in the last year?
We have made huge inroads in deepening our understanding of the right category vision for the wholesale channel, which has led to the successful trials we have put in place to further drive confectionery sales.
What is your greatest achievement in the last year?
Working alongside our wholesale partners to understand the challenges retailers face in depot and how best to overcome these to drive sales, has been a great achievement. We have a strong understanding of how to effectively drive sales of the confectionery category and we are keen to share these learnings. New product development is a huge area for us and the last twelve months has seen Mars make strides with strong product innovation. In addition to launching NPD for Snickers, Mars and M&M’s, we also released three new products within the Galaxy family. These include Galaxy Salted Caramel, Galaxy Duet, and most recently, the must-have treat this Easter, Galaxy Golden Eggs.
What advice would you give to wholesalers looking to grow sales?
There are three key areas wholesalers should focus their attention on in an effort to drive sales – availability, display and value. Stocking a full range like Mars’ core products will help ensure retailers have plenty of choice and keeping these in line with consistent planograms will prevent any potential frustration around availability or lack thereof.
Wholesalers should look to provide retailers advice on how to drive sales through distribution and availability.
When it comes to display, nearly a third of retailers will purchase on impulse so wholesalers should aim to use all PoS available to them to create theatre in the depot and drive awareness and sales for the confectionery aisle. This also makes the fixture easier to navigate. With value for money more important to shoppers than ever, it’s also imperative to highlight the best offers, like price-marked packs. PMP’s are the number one promotional mechanic wanted by retailers and they give consumers the confidence that they aren’t being over charged for their favourite treats, so prominently displaying these within the depot so pricing is clearly visible is key.
What should wholesalers be saying to their customers to help them grow sales?
Retailers are always looking for tips on how to attract more customers to their store so wholesalers should look to provide advice on how to drive sales through distribution and availability. This includes giving guidance on how to select the right range – stripping out the least popular products in favour of best-sellers, allocating sufficient space for sales, and optimising product positioning in store, like multi-facing the best-selling lines to increase uplift.
What would you like to see happening in wholesale in the next 12 months?
For wholesalers, increasing the physical availability of products in the depot, ensuring core ranges are on display with ample stock visible in key bays, will help maximise potential sales driven by heightened awareness. Implementing disruptive on and off-shelf displays in areas of high traffic flow – like the main aisle and end of aisle – should also be a priority for wholesalers looking to capitalise on increased retailer interest, with displays themed around specific brands, products, and seasonal events or occasions.
What campaigns or activations are you planning that wholesalers should be aware of?
Manufacturers are increasingly spending more money on media investment in order to keep the chocolate category front of mind for consumers, Mars continues to invest heavily in TV advertising. We most recently launched a new TV ad for our iconic MARS® bar which is on air now and is all about celebrating those who take life by the horns in extraordinary ways.
We’ve also got a range of innovative launches and exciting campaigns for Galaxy, Galaxy Duet, Mars and M&M’s across the course of 2016. Supporting much of this will be an increased spend on media including TV – with more than 50.4m people estimated to see Mars adverts in the space of a year, wholesalers and retailers should be prepared for increased interest during key campaign moments. Watch this space for further updates!