The continued domination of the retail FMCG market by the large multiples means that a suppliers’ best chance of success is in being able to offer the most effective insights into category strategies and actionable plans are likely to succeed.

That’s the view of Bridgethorne, the category development, shopper marketing and customer management specialist.

“As the retail multiples’ hold on the market grows, the battle for shopper loyalty will become increasingly vital. If a supplier can develop its offering based on category insights that demonstrate how to influence the shopper at the point of purchase, the opportunity for success could be significant,” explains Bridgethorne Joint Managing Director John Nevens. “It is essential that suppliers are able to demonstrate to retailers how they can make their category work for shoppers and grow incrementally.  This will allow suppliers to develop and maintain a positive working relationship with the large retailers.”

For the retailer it means the manufacturer is adding value to the relationship by identifying short and long term, quantified strategic opportunities for the category rather than just its individual brand.

Suppliers that fail to implement an insightful and effective category strategy risk a declining relationship with the retailer with less influence on category agenda. Furthermore, should suppliers fail to act on category insights they may find that competitors move ahead of them and exploit new opportunities.

“Lucozade is one brand whose category strategy has always been particularly insightful,” adds Nevens. “Introduced to the market as a product for people who were essentially feeling unwell, by understanding the emerging trend for energy drinks for active people Lucozade managed to shift into and positively influence the energy drink category and enjoy a far larger share of the soft drink market as a result.

Effective category development is critical. It will focus on the major drivers and tactics that will increase value and often volume. It should be underpinned by consumer and shopper research and data driven insights.”

In so doing, Nevens explains, manufacturers can also identify short and long term quantified strategic opportunities for the category and the brand.  This will increase expertise and multi – dimensional levels of influence in the category leading to brand growth ahead of the category. It also provides a pragmatic internal plan of action for brand development.

Bridgethorne works with manufacturers to develop the quantified vision and category plan that will help them increase their sales. This is a flexible, insight-based, three phased approach – with consultative, managed or directed options – with as much input from Bridgethorne personnel, all of whom have hands on industry experience, as is needed to suit the manufacturer’s business objectives and resource needs.