Stepping Things Up

In her latest article for the International Licensing Industry Merchandiser's Association (LIMA), Carol Spieckerman riffs on why step change planning is right for the retail times. Sequels and already-in-the-pipeline products can't be the only answers.

In her presentation in Bentonville last week, Sam’s Club’s SVP and chief merchandising officer, Linda Hefner, lamented that some suppliers treat the club channel as an afterthought, taking a product that they sold to the drug or grocery channels, putting it in a bigger pack size, shrink wrapping it on a pallet, and calling it a “club pack.” It wasn’t that long ago that such derivative strategies worked just fine – retailers were happy with semi-customized versions of something that worked somewhere else. 

What really grabbed me about Hefner’s presentation, though, is where she went from there. Hefner encouraged suppliers to focus their efforts on “step change” opportunities in areas such as brand, price, sustainability, and packaging functionality, which increase the value brought to members. 

The concept of step change is a powerful one at this particular moment in retail, when the journey from early adoption to obsolescence seems to happen at the speed of light, and as social media, digital marketing, and omni-channel options turn brand program debuts into multi-touch-point, make-or-break mega-launches. 

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