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Let’s try: The big surprise will be that what seems an insurmountable challenge for them, is simple for us.

Posted on 07 April 2015

kohn-1By / Richard Kohn

Winning in private label is driven by a few factors: Speed of response, flexibility, pricing and increasingly, based on my most recent experiences, solving simple problems for our clients.

Or perhaps they are just simple for us,because of our depth of knowledge and ability to perform.

Let me explain more. We know there are a number of operational models retailers use for private label. These range from extensive in house teams to totally outsourced supply. For those with less extensive a team, there’s a real opportunity (less so with bigger teams, but I believe it is still there). Middle management ranks in retailers having been culled in recent years. The result is a knowledge gap in those retailers that smart private labelers can exploit.

Managers working in major retailers today are very impressive characters. In most cases they have passed through the fast track management training courses as top performers. They are bright, intelligent and commercially very savvy. They also are responsible for multi million Euro/Dollar budgets. These are extremely busy people, used to success and used to wielding great power.

Then comes along a problem to which they don’t, despite their great wealth of experience, training and budgets, know the answer. In today’s retail management environment, where can they turn? Colleagues – perhaps: but then they don’t want to show any weakness. Senior management – unlikely: there’s not a lot of them left and those that are there, so busy it’s unlikely that they will have time. Consultants – never: they cost money.

Develop a good and trusting relationship with your category manager, one where they feel they can share with you the product challenges they face, where you solve a few simple problems for them and then you become an invaluable source of support.

Believe me, I know this because I have sat on both sides of the table. It just seems that even more now, as retailers try to move from recessions to growth, the need for a wise, experienced counsellor at the shoulder of the buyer, offering easy solutions is more valuable than ever before. The big surprise will be that what seems an insurmountable challenge for them, is simple for us.

Most category managers simply have no time to manage their long list of branded contacts and then an extensive network of suppliers across the every expanding range of categories that they have to cover.

In a nutshell: Find a busy category manager, with too much on their plate, handling multiple big brands and big categories. Set a meeting and then listen, just listen. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to win new business!

Richard is an expert in global marketing and an acknowledged strategic brand leader. he currently heads the private label division at one of the largest retail pharmacy groups in Europe. he’s held senior management positions in a brand cPG companies and led international marketing and strategy teams across cPG, consumer durable and business services companies. he’s also the European client partner for a leading brand excellence training institute which delivers brand and communications courses to Fortune 500 companies. Richard is dedicated to bringing the discipline and science of brand marketing and marketing communications to private labels, empowering them to cultivate critically essential marketing management competencies to lead them to build leadership brands. richardkohn@gmail.com

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