By Vivien Godfrey, CEO, MilkPEP
Understanding the needs and business practices of retailers is an important component of driving milk sales. Successfully selling goods to retailers requires many ingredients, the first being solid relationships. MilkPEP understands the importance of not only building strong relationships, but also showing retailers the value associated with the milk category and is keeping its finger on the pulse of what is happening in retail through a number of targeted initiatives.
Getting involved in key retail associations, such as the National Grocers Association (NGA), the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and the National Frozen and Refrigerated Foods Association (NFRA), is one of our major undertakings for 2012. Building these relationships enables us to showcase MilkPEP’s unique value proposition, clearly articulate the power of milk and the opportunities for increased basket rings that exist with our new occasion-based focused approach on Breakfast at Home and Refuel with Chocolate Milk. It also allows us to share our wealth of consumer insights and research, and most importantly, maintain a dialogue with retailers.
In early May, I had the pleasure of presenting a workshop, "What’s For Breakfast: Capitalizing on the Breakfast Occasion," at FMI 2012, one of the food industry’s largest shows drawing over 12,000 retail industry-shaping professionals. My workshop objectives were to share with them our new Breakfast-at-Home strategy and help them understand the opportunities that exist by building their own strategy. The retailers I spoke with were not only accepting of the Breakfast-at-Home message, they were excited and eager to go back to their stores and develop their own strategies.
Key Takeaways From FMI 2012
Participating in a large conference such as FMI 2012 as both a speaker and attendee enabled me to have conversations with many retailers, and hear firsthand what issues keep them up at night, what initiatives they are working on and what needs are not being met.
Here are some of the insights for you to consider:
• Gone are the days when retailers are viewed by consumers merely as distribution centers. Grocery retailers are getting more and more technology savvy and leveraging their newfound capabilities to mine extensive data about their shoppers. Everything from how many times a shopper visits to which items they purchase the most is captured and used to build and enhance their customer loyalty programs as well as increase shopper frequency and basket size. Many CPG companies are tapping into the availability of retailers’ highly sophisticated data. This is an opportunity for MilkPEP and processors to explore. We can develop partnerships with retailers to tap into their loyalty programs, share data and drive sales around our Breakfast-at-Home and Refuel with Chocolate Milk campaigns.
• Retailers are looking to sell ideas, in addition to items. The fact that meal occasions have been proven successful by retailers bodes well for MilkPEP’s Breakfast-at-Home strategy. Similar to dinner solutions, breakfast solutions are a new way for retailers to own a meal-occasion strategy that will help drive milk consumption. Rather than viewing milk as a commodity, retailers who view milk as a way to grow shopper trips to their stores can use the Breakfast-at-Home meal occasion as a successful strategy to drive loyalty, increased traffic plus higher basket rings with complementary breakfast products.
• Retailers crave unique insights to help them think differently. Merchandising and marketing innovations driven by consumer trends are key to unit sales and growth. They realize pricing alone is not a strategy to sustain long term success. MilkPEP’s Refuel with Chocolate Milk platform has great potential in grocery and retail outlets. Positioned as a recovery beverage for athletes after a vigorous workout, chocolate milk represents an impulse buy of a product that typically has a higher margin, which will generate an immediate boost to incremental sales.
• Retailers own brands are growing exponentially. Consumers are looking to spend less than ever on food. People are learning to be comfortable with keeping less food in the pantry. Retailers can leverage their own brands to drive value and gain consumer acceptance. MilkPEP can help take all brands to the next level through sharing of our consumer insights and providing our tools and resources.
• Health and wellness is playing a huge role in the changing retail landscape. Shoppers are more mindful than ever of nutritional products that can help contribute to their overall health. Retailers are looking for ways to help educate their customers on how to adopt a healthier lifestyle and are challenged by the center store and how to marry “healthy” with their center store products. Our Breakfast-at-Home strategy speaks directly to starting the day off right with a healthy breakfast. It lends itself well to a consumer-centric health conscious message that can easily add a nutritious halo to center store breakfast products.
It is imperative that MilkPEP and the milk industry continues to build relationships with retailers, provide them with innovative ideas and resources, and seed key messages about the increased sales opportunities our Breakfast-at-Home and Refuel with Chocolate Milk occasion-based strategies provide. We are in the process of testing Breakfast at Home with several retailers and look forward to reporting the results to you later in 2012 and in early 2013.