With the Great British Summer still threatening to properly reveal itself, FMCG suppliers have been advised to consider how best to plan their ranges to ensure they are less dependent on economic vagaries such as bad weather.

That’s the recommendation from Bridgethorne, the customer, category management and shopper marketing specialist, after the Office for National Statistics revealed that food sales fell 4.1 per cent in April, the biggest fall since May 2011. Commentators speculated that poor weather had hit Spring and Summer-specific products particularly hard.

The news follows on from claims made in the recent Channel Four programme “Human Swarm” which set out to show how businesses can better manage risks and opportunities which are influenced by the weather and our collective behaviour. The programme showed the extent to which weather affects our behaviour: when it gets colder, our appetite increases and our buying habits change. For example, the programme showed how, when it’s cold, sales of porridge soar, citing Quaker Oats sell 200 % more than normal or 20 million packets each week.

The documentary showed how, at Morrisons’ 1.2 million square foot distribution centre inYorkshire, the retailer’s ordering system uses five years’ sales and weather data to predict what we will want to eat and automatically selects the right products to send to its stores.

“One thing we have learnt since we entered recession in 2008 is the importance of spreading risk and ensuring, as far as possible, that ranges take into account as far as changing shopper behaviour,” explains Bridgethorne director John Nevens.  “This means gaining the insights you need from the way we behave as shoppers and investing that in the development of your range and in the way you interact both with the retailer and the shopper.”

Bridgethorne has a demonstrable track record of working with suppliers to create detailed assessments that form the foundation of new product launches. This assessment process provides compelling insights and rationales to support both internal decision making, presentations to retail trade partners and external facing launch plans.

“It is important that suppliers develop a compelling proposition for the trade, objectively aligning the insights and opportunities identified with the ‘product’ intended for launch,” adds Nevens.

“The key is to transform what may appear to be an ephemeral issue into an objective category story where you can articulate benefits to both the shopper and the retailer, such that the trade sees clear value in working with you to bring the product to market.”

This process, Nevens adds, helps aid early decision making before major launch investment; lowers business risk and exposure; helps ease the internal decision making process and increases the chances of success.