All four are from the earlier study - and at first glance it seems little has changed. Many manufacturers still feel they spend too much on trade promotion, especially in an environment of low to no top line growth and increasing use of zero-based budgeting. Temporary price reductions (TPRs) are still the most common promotion and produce the lowest lift. Both manufacturers and retailers spend considerable resources on trade promotion evaluation, but plenty of questions remain. And the organization pendulum tends to swing every five years or so between centralized and decentralized, effectiveness versus efficiency and highly standardized to largely customized. Is it possible little has changed?
This industry study, coupled with extensive trade promotion project work with leading manufacturers and retailers, confirms much in fact has changed. Although opportunities remain, we are optimistic about the state of CPG trade promotion.
Manufacturers are quite passionate about developing data-driven promotion strategies, better leveraging shopper insights to make promotions more effective and efficient, and measuring the short- and long term impact of promotion on brands and categories.
Below is a summary of key findings and recommended actions from our 2016 trade promotion industry study.
Trade Spending Still Shifting to Customer-Specific Tactics
Total trade spending as a percent of gross sales has remained flat for some years. However, the growth of customer-specific programs and digital promotions has shifted spending considerably from traditional to new media. Manufacturers are increasingly targeting trade promotion funds at growth channels and customers, seeking to better align investment with potential while still complying with federal law.
Manufacturers and retailers share the same challenge: finding the right combination of trade promotion strategies, tactics, channels, customers and vehicles to invest in.
1. Segment customers strategically for better allocation of trade funds and higher potential for growth.
2. Develop customer-specific promotion strategies and tactics.
3. Partner closely with retailers to find the right combination of strategies and tactics to achieve common goals.
Digital Growing Quickly, Retailers Leading, Manufacturers Lagging
Trade promotion spending and activity is rapidly migrating to digital, yet manufacturer strategies, budgets and organizations have not adapted quickly enough. Just 13% of manufacturers have separate brick-and-mortar and e-commerce budgets and 24% have no e-commerce budget at all. Conversely, 33% of retailers have a separate e-commerce budget and just 8% have no e-commerce budget at all. Clearly, retailers are out in front.
Manufacturers and retailers appear to be taking different approaches to digital promotion activity, likely leading to considerable misalignment. Manufacturers are increasingly focused on promoting on retailer websites while retailers have deemphasized their own websites in favor of social media, email and mobile couponing.
4. Establish separate e-commerce teams, budgets and goals if you haven't already.
5. Manufacturers should better align digital promotion spending and activity to retailer strategies and tactics.
6. Retailers should leverage manufacturer social marketing content in trade offers.
Measuring Impact on Longer-Term Shopper Behavior Is Next Frontier
Most manufacturers are using trade promotion management systems to support the management and analysis of trade spending. Despite this investment and effort, all parties feel much more should be done - including analyzing the impact on categories (as well as brands) and better aligning spending with retailer-specific strategies.
- The next level of optimization is understanding the longer-term effects of trade promotion on shopper purchase behavior.
- Perhaps the most important takeaway from this research is the shopper remains boss. In an increasingly omnichannel world, the shopper is expected to continue gaining power.
7. Measure the impact of trade promotion on categories, not just brands, and longer-term shopper behavior.
8. As you move beyond trade promotion management (funds focus) to calculating ROI (performance focus), carefully consider its many components such as duration, incrementality and fully-loaded costs.
9. Combining trade promotion activity and shopper marketing insights with individual customer strategy is the next frontier for optimization.