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Stop, collaborate, and listen


taylor_swift_dietcokeWay back in 1990, Vanilla Ice topped the charts with his now famous song, Ice Ice Baby.

Little did he realise that “stop, collaborate, and listen” would also become the mantra for today’s best practice shopper marketing.

Retailers and brands need to stop giving joint marketing efforts a shallow nod, and start collaborating with genuine gusto.

These sentiments are echoed by new Nielsen research showing overall value is more valuable than low promotional prices.

The research found top line growth is not affected by sales or discounting in the current retail market.

This points to the fact that retailers and suppliers need to be more collaborative in order to provide overall value.

Being big no longer future proofs. The new retail dynamic is one where fast is beating slow and small is beating big.

This is a landscape where winning will be defined by a willingness to adopt new behaviours and practices anchored in partnership.

Brands and retailers must listen to what their shoppers want and provide it to them via relevant and inspired solutions.

Advantage and value creation

Collaboration is becoming a strategic imperative for businesses aiming to sustain continued relevance, growth, and profitability.

Approached properly, this is an avenue toward joint advantage and value creation, but the brand and retailer relationship must be anchored in trust, fairness, transparency, and listening.

The financial gains of collaboration are summed up by a Booz & Co study outlining three collaboration levers.

Below are examples that demonstrate successful application of each.

1. Revenue or margin enhancement

The Target USA and Diet Coke Young Designer program is a great example of an ongoing collaboration between retailer and supplier.

In its second year, the multi-channel program invited aspiring designers to create an t-shirt personifying the Diet Coke brand and this year’s ambassador, Taylor Swift.

The winning design was turned into a limited edition t-shirt which shoppers could earn with the purchase of multi-pack Diet Coke at Target stores nationwide.

This is turn helped Target deliver on its “expect more, pay less” promise to customers.

2. Process improvement

Improving effectiveness of marketing efforts was at the heart of Burberry’s catwalk partnership with Apple and its (at the time) as yet to be released iPhone 5S.

As Burberry launched its new collection, Apple recorded and live streamed the action to Burberry’s millions of fans via multiple touchpoints, including billboards, Burberry stores, and across social networking platforms.

Burberry regent st
Burberry’s Regent St flagship in London

3. Cost reduction

UK health and beauty retailer, Boots, worked with a leading supplier of hair accessories to cut labour costs while improving the supplier’s displays.

By designing an intuitive, colour coded product display system, Boots reduced set up times and overall store rebuilds.

This resulted in a double digit sales increase of hair accessories in the first year alone.

Collaboration as win-win

All of these examples show that, no matter what collaboration lever is applied, the right internal organisational structure is critical to success.

Collaboration needs to be embedded as a way of doing business for retailers and brands, with the common goal being a win-win.

As brands and retailers seek to drive continued growth they must focus on the one anchor point they share in common – the shopper.

By uniting on how to differentiate and improve the overall experience for shoppers, the industry as a whole will be bolstered.

But it has to start with a desire to stop, collaborate and listen.

Caroline Ghatt is planning director (brand and retail) at Leo Burnett Sydney. She works on shopper insights and retail activations for Caltex, McDonald’s, and Canon.

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