Significant growth in sales of ice cream underlines the importance of suppliers having an effective category strategy that can lead to more accurate shopper understanding and long-term success for suppliers.

That is the view from category and shopper management specialist Bridgethorne, after a report revealed that shoppers had spent an additional £53.9 million pounds on ice cream in the last year alone. 500ml tubs of premium brands such as Ben and Jerry’s and Häagen-Dazs have been particularly successful with an additional 7.2million tubs being consumed.

“From socio-economic factors to changing market trends, there has been a power shift towards the shopper in the FMCG sector,” explains John Nevens, co-founder of Bridgethorne.

“Brands need to understand the factors that drive shopper behaviour and decision making at the point of purchase – why they buy premium brands, how these products speak to them as shoppers rather than just a consumers. That means greater use of insight into shopper needs and wants such that brands are able to influence buying decisions when the shopper meets the product at the point of purchase.”

Bridgethorne works with a diverse range of clients to deliver a category vision that identifies and quantifies specific growth drivers that can influence behaviour at the point of purchase. This helps suppliers contribute to growth in category revenue through increased shopper targeting. This can include data strategy and management, category performance tracking, range analysis and category insights. It also delivers category and range reviews using techniques accepted by retailers, which focus on meaningful insight, action and opportunity.

“Information from the Office of National Statistics published recently showed how much people are staying at home rather than going out and are prepared to spend more on premium products at home,” continues Nevens. “For example, drinking alcohol at home costs British households more than drinking in bars, pubs and clubs, whilst more was spent on gambling in the average British household each week than going to the cinema, concerts, theme parks, museums and the theatre combined. This apparent willingness to spend a little extra when we go shopping rather than dine out could be behind the success of premium products.”

By building insight into every level of the business, from product development to marketing and promotion as well as shelf positioning, the demand/supply chain can be streamlined. Suppliers who best demonstrate effective strategy implementation, built on meaningful insight, will find themselves in a valuable position. Not only will their products enjoy increased sales and volume figures, but also retailers are more likely to include these suppliers in important overall category decisions.